Cross-channel digital strategies

More than just a buzzword, it has become imperative for businesses to incorporate cross-channel tactics into their marketing strategy.

Information passing across my desk is telling the truth about brands that campaign over multiple channels.

It would seem that most of the trouble stems from a flagrant lack of planning - hope is nice, but it's not a strategy. That is where most brands run into trouble. This lack of digital strategy is the veritable elephant in the room.

The issue, it seems, is connecting with customers in a meaningful way. Looking at the numbers, it seems hardly any businesses are making full use of online platforms overall. That means, of course, that particular critical challenges facing marketing teams need to be overcome.

So let's talk about it.

'We don't have a strategy.'

According to an eConsultancy report, upwards of 57% of respondents say the most significant barrier preventing effective coordinated marketing across channels is "no clear or well-defined strategy."

This will be immediately identifiable as a problem for many, since the only sure way to fail is to operate without a plan.

The follow-up thought to that is: think of all the brands hacking away on social media, inbound, Email, website development, online PR, copywriting, usability, analytics and other efforts without putting them under the umbrella of a multi-channel strategy.

And we're not just talking big brands here. Business-to-business (B2B) and small businesses (SMBs) are also struggling to get their act together when it comes to a compelling digital strategy.

Virtually all Australian businesses are 'online', yet many of them report that they are stumbling.

What needs fixing?

According to the same report from eConsultancy, some of the biggest problems are:

  • Only 50% of large Australian businesses engage their customers through social media (hint: if you are a small business, those consumers would like someone to talk to)
  • 93% of B2B customers say all companies need to use social media
  • 11.5 million Australian's use Facebook, compared to only 2.2 million using Twitter (think about your ratio of posts to each platform)
  • 40% of organisations in the country have apps, 75% expect to do so shortly

What these seemingly disparate statistics tell us is that a lot is going on, and some of it isn't working.

Sure, there is also plenty of room for improvement, as well as plenty of wide-open opportunities to seize. Looking at stats like that, one gets the sense we're all over the place when it comes to social media - and that's not to mention other branding activities outside online platforms.

The above issues are rooted in businesses' attempts at using multiple channels (which is a smart move), but ultimately running into problems with aligning those seemingly disparate channels.

The truth is every channel through which a brand engages has to serve the over-arching goals of the business, and truly need to function as one. That's where a strategy comes in.

Many of these problems could be fixed with a solid, cross-channel strategy designed to help better position the respective brand.

How to fix the issue

The simple answer to lacking a plan is to get one. But, as you may know, that is not quite as simple as it sounds.

Here's the basic roadmap for building a cross channel strategy:

  1. Determine what precisely you are planning to offer in the digital space
  2. Identify needs and goals, with an eye towards results in return-on-investment (ROI)
  3. Determine what digital platforms can help your business achieve the objectives in steps 1 and 2
  4. Layout sub-plans for each channel
  5. Execute the strategy

Mind you, that's the slightly dumbed-down version of how a cross channel digital strategy works. It may sound simple enough, but when you start to factor in budgetary concerns and other variables, you soon realise that it can be complicated.

Nevertheless, the need to have a thoroughly forward-thinking strategy is more pertinent than ever. If you are one of those businesses that face problems with getting profitable results through digital channels, it might be time to look at strategy - even if you already have one in place.

Do you have a working strategy that gets results?

If you find yourself in over your head before you even get started with implementing a strategy, or if you have tried but failed to implement a digital strategy that gets results, then we have one more bit of advice for you - ask for help.

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