Today’s consumer has an unprecedented amount of brand-related user-generated content available to them. To an extent, the seller is no longer in control.
We’ve all seen Mad Men, right? The old marketing model was advertising based. Corporations and ad-men sat around a conference table on Madison Avenue, chain smoking and sipping Scotch, deciding how to tell the consumer what they need to buy.
Flash forward to 2017 and the typical marketing model does not rely on ads. Today, the consumer tells the seller what they want to buy, how they want to buy it, and what they expect from the product or service. And if they’re disappointed, you better believe they’re going to tell everyone about it.
Multi-channel marketing in the days of Madison Avenue looked like this:
Multi-channel marketing today looks like this:
- Sponsored Content
- Brand Journalism
- Landing Pages
- Visual Content
With so many channels, the connection between inbound marketing and multi-channel marketing is critical to sales. Sellers must have valuable, relevant content, where, when, and how consumers, prospects, and customers are looking for it.
Social Media: The Base of Multi-Channel Marketing
75% of online adults regularly use social media. Of that 75%, the number is split 50/50 between people who use 1+ social media networks and people who use 4+ social media networks.
“Social media” is not a channel. Social media is a platform for sharing and discussing the content you have published within your selected marketing channels. Remember: 75% of online adults use 1+ social media networks. These consumers also spend an average of 3 of their total 6 online hours browsing these networks, sharing and discussing.
Worth repeating: sellers must have valuable, relevant content, where, when, and how consumers are looking for it. They are looking for it on social media. Your goal on social media networks is to be visible and active in the discussion that is taking place about your brand, industry, or niche. The best way to contribute to and eventually lead these discussions is to publish content on a few of the many carefully selected marketing channels available to you and to engage and connect with your consumers who are also sharing content.
Social media is a relationship-building tool, not a sales strategy. Social media is a critical piece of your overall marketing and business strategy. Therefore, in order for a social media manager or agency to be successful, there are some important steps you need to take to and bring to the table such as establishing your brand identity and doing extensive audience research.
How to Choose the Right Channels for Your Business
With consumers being active on so many digital channels, companies have numerous ways to reach them. Choosing all of them is often unreasonable and impractical, for your time and budget. When sellers take a scattered, ad hoc approach to managing multi-channel communications they run the risk of:
- Presenting an inconsistent brand message that ultimately confuses and inevitably fails to connect with people.
- Spreading resources too thin by concentrating on channels where your market isn’t.
- Focus solely on creating as much content as quickly as possible, rather than promoting or creating dialogue around the content.
Here are a few basic do’s and don’t for choosing the marketing and communications channels that are right for your business:
- Do follow your customer. Your brand’s message is tailored for your audience so your communications and marketing strategy should be as well. Find them where they are: which social media networks do they use? Do they share? What do they share? Blog posts? Videos? Infographics? Products? Do they shop on Amazon? Do they leave reviews?
- Do your research. If you haven’t done this already, know your demographic like the back of your hand. Who are you currently selling to? How old are they? Who are your competitors selling to? Why do they buy? What do they care about? What are they talking about related to your industry on social media? Find studies online. Look for #hashtag trends. Pour over your website’s data and figure out what search terms they’re using to find you. You can never know too much about your audience.
- Don’t copy your competitors. Your competitive research should supplement your overall marketing strategy, not become your marketing strategy. With that mentality, you will always be a step behind the competition. You heard that your competitor has a successful email marketing program. Great! Choosing to add email marketing to your marketing strategy is an excellent idea. Don’t create a fake email address to join their mailing list, then use their message, content, and style for your next newsletter. Stay consistent with your own brand and focus on what makes you different from your competitors. Look for opportunities in channels that resonate with your audience that they’re not leveraging. Make them your own.
Set Benchmarks for Success
Don’t get caught up in vanity metrics: “likes,” followers, page views, registrations, downloads. Instead, focus on comments, shares, clicks on your CTA, retention, and traffic-to-lead conversions. These are actionable metrics. Actionable metrics show intent and engagement on behalf of your audience. These metrics are also key indicators that you’re using the correct channels and your message is on-point and resonating with the people you are trying to engage with.
The most critical aspect of any marketing campaign is having a clear, concise brand story and a cohesive message hierarchy.
If you are not seeing the results you’re hoping for, consider revisiting your brand’s demographic and story. Are you actively engaging with your audience on your chosen channels, not just pushing out content? Is it even the right audience? The right message? Simply publishing content on a social media network and hoping that people see it is not a marketing strategy. As a seller, you need to be communicating and building relationships with others. This is what social media is for: socializing.
If you’re getting clicks but seeing bounce rates rise on your pages, this is a clear indicator that your audience either did not see the content they were expecting to see in terms of either message or design. Is your site optimized for mobile? If not, you don’t have a website.
If you’re getting a lot of traffic to your blog but they’re not converting into sales or leads, this is a time to consider having a professional look at your web design and to rethink your CTAs on your blog pages. Are they clear? Visible? Enticing? Follow a user’s journey through your website. Where are you losing them?
Consider hiring a public relations consultant if you’re continuing to struggle with engagement and traction. PR professionals thrive in environment that places two rules above all: be helpful and be newsworthy. It doesn’t get more authentic than that. These pros work hard to engage your audience in an authentic manner to gain their trust. They are masters at finding the story and spreading the word. Social media and PR lend themselves to each other perfectly.
“PR: the communications discipline that’s about showing, not selling; influencing, not promoting; and earning, not buying,” writes Adam Snyder in AdWeek. “PR professionals have been engaged in pure social media since before the term was coined and should naturally be leading social efforts.”
Social media plays a critical part in supporting your company’s overall multi-channel marketing, but it should not be the basis of your entire strategy. Explore channels and opportunities, experiment with your messaging, and understand who you’re selling to. Once you have a deeper understanding of your goals and audience, social media will become and an invaluable tool for building relationships with consumers in today’s market.