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Today's customers have far more control in their relationship with companies than before: The voice of the customer has gotten increasingly more assertive. As a result, companies have had to change their digital strategies to accommodate consumer preferences.
Companies can no longer dictate the preferred communication channels -- whether that's email, social media, corporate website and so on -- when interacting with customers. For digital marketing strategies to be successful, companies have to offer their customers multiple avenues of communication. But part of the challenge is determining which channels customers prefer.
But it's not enough for companies to simply cultivate a presence on a few digital channels to market products. Customers often use multiple channels freely, switching back and forth between them in their daily lives. A company's marketing campaign on one channel has to be consistent among multiple channels.
Digital marketing campaigns work best when all of the channels in a campaign's media mix are interconnected. Without striving for this sort of omnichannel marketing that blends and blurs the lines between media boundaries, targeted marketing messages might not reach their desired audiences. The keys to mastering an interconnected media, messaging and experience strategy are the following:
- Be present and active in the media channels your customers use most, and offer avenues for cross-media interaction.
- Use various forms of media in a cohesive communication strategy to reinforce messages and experiences consistently and seamlessly.
- In developing campaigns, map a clear path that entices consumers to follow your brand's message across channels.
Here are two examples of omnichannel marketing:
Michaels wants "Makers"
Arts and crafts retailer Michaels is creating a sense of community that guides consumers between its physical stores and digital accounts within one comprehensive, omnichannel marketing umbrella.
Their marketing program, "Michaels Makers," is a company-provided blogger network where customers can read about tips for do-it-yourself projects. "Michaels Makers" integrates online and in-store classes, summit events and blogger outreach programs using video and how-to resources for customers. Additionally, Michaels uses a combination of Web and social media marketing to involve its audience in monthly online craft challenges. Crafters can also post their own projects on social media using the hashtag #MadeWithMichaels for a chance to be featured on Michaels' social channels.
Over the past year, Michaels saw its email database grow by more than 10%, according to chairman and CEO Chuck Rubin. In March 2015, all of the company's marketing channels came together for its Springtime in Paris event which produced 400,000 visits to the event website as well as shares from email, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. The company also got its physical stores involved in the event's marketing, offering classes and encouraging customers to send them pictures to be entered in a drawing for a free trip to Paris. More than 11,000 entries were submitted for the contest.
Sally's getting viewers involved in its new 'project'
Sally Beauty Supply partnered with the reality TV show Project Runway in a cross-promotional marketing campaign that ties in with the looks created on the show. The campaign also provided customers with beauty tips to help them recreate their favorite styles.
As part of the omnichannel marketing campaign, consumers receive email messages that reference the show's most recent hair and makeup looks -- with the actual products used -- and step-by-step guidance for customers to achieve those styles at home.
Along with email messaging, Sally's interconnected marketing campaign includes a mix of social media, YouTube videos and a dedicated section of its website. Customers can enter online or in-store to win the "Runway Your Way" sweepstakes for a trip to New York City to see the show's finale.
Currently, Sally's has more than 434,000 Facebook likes and more than 54,000 Twitter followers. We should acknowledge, however that likes and followers can be empty, or hollow, gauges of audience affinity for a brand. Still, they are ways to broaden exposure of a company's brand and get people talking.
1. An interconnected omnichannel marketing campaign must include a well-rounded media mix that reaches your customers on the channels they prefer. Understand where and how your customers are spending their time -- whether online or in-store -- and then develop strategies for cross-linking content in those venues.
2. If your campaign is not valuable to customers, they will not participate. Provide customers with meaningful content, such as education, tips, "in-the-know" background info they can't get elsewhere, videos, social interactions, Web resources, etc.
3. Encourage the feeling of community and value. When customers feel that they are a part of a "movement," they are more inclined to want to participate and be a part of the marketing campaign.
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