Multi-channel marketing isn’t exactly revolutionary.
I find it hard to believe that, in this day and age, there’s a single brand that relies fully on just one channel.
According to research from Digital Doughnut and EPiServer, 95 percent of marketers agree that taking a multi-channel approach plays an important role in achieving their business goals. I can only assume the other five percent didn’t understand the question.
However, it’s one thing to agree that multi-channel is important, and another to effectively execute a marketing strategy across multiple channels.
Indeed, that same research tells us:
- Three in five marketers lack the ability to understand a prospect’s position on the customer journey.
- One-quarter don’t feel confident in their ability to deliver “the right message, at the right time, to the right prospect.”
If you can’t do those things, you’re not doing multi-channel marketing right.
Multi-Channel Marketing 101
What is Multi-Channel Marketing?
Multi-channel marketing involves using several marketing channels to target customers with a single message or concept.
You’d likely discuss it in your organic social posts too, and build a dedicated landing page to capture search traffic. Perhaps you’d even take things offline by sending a direct mailer or running a print or broadcast ad campaign.
But just because you’re using a wide range of tactics and platforms to reach customers, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re running an effective multi-channel campaign capable of achieving your desired goals. To be successful, multi-channel marketing campaigns must:
- Leverage the “right” channels. Clearly, the whole purpose of using more than one channel is to increase your reach (thereby boosting brand awareness). So it’s important you choose the channels that’ll help you get in front of your target audience.
- Drive engagement. Successful marketing isn’t a one-way street. To drive results, you need to strike up a meaningful conversation with your target audience, encouraging them to react with, comment on, and share your content.
- Be integrated. No channel exists in isolation. Instead, they should work together to further your goals and deliver stronger customer experiences. For example, if a customer buys a product via a social ad, they likely won’t want to receive emails promoting that same product.
- Nail the messaging. Obviously, your message needs to resonate with your target audience. But it also needs to be consistent, regardless of the channel on which it appears.
5 Killer Multi-Channel Marketing Examples
Okay, so we understand the theory behind what “good multi-channel marketing” looks like. Now, let’s dig into some real-world examples of killer multi-channel marketing campaigns.
I’ve already noted that consistency is one of the key elements of successful multi-channel marketing. It’s the reason you only need to catch a distant glimpse of the famous “golden arches” to immediately start craving a Big Mac.
Consistent messaging isn’t just a nice-to-have; it has specific and practical business benefits. In a survey of more than 400 brand management experts, Lucidpress predicted businesses that consistently maintain their brand enjoy a 10-20 percent uptick in revenue.
However, it appears that consistency is easier said than done, with just 30 percent of brands routinely enforcing their own guidelines.
Simply put, if your marketing communications aren’t consistent, don’t expect to see results. You need to figure out the combination of visuals, messaging, and language that resonates with your audience—and once you’ve found it, you need to do more of it.
Which is precisely what Kiwi-American footwear and apparel brand Allbirds does.
Allbirds consistently leverages two key messages in its marketing:
Importantly, those aren’t just empty words. The brand has committed to reducing its carbon footprint to near-zero by 2030, and its products are made with natural materials like merino wool and eucalyptus fiber.
This shines through in its marketing, regardless of channel. For instance, check out this recent Facebook ad for the “world’s most comfortable shoes”, which also references how they’re made from natural materials:
And now take a look at this Christmas-themed newsletter, which leads with the idea of sending Allbirds products as gifts, before reverting to those same core messages—how those products are light, comfy, and made from natural materials:
It’s not rocket science; it’s just about finding your niche, understanding your audience, honing your messaging, and sticking with it when you’ve discovered what works.
It’s not exactly breaking news that Apple is good at marketing.
According to Interbrand, it’s the most valuable brand in the world, with a value of almost $323 billion. That’s approximately double the value of third-placed Microsoft, which is hardly a slouch in the marketing stakes.
There are lots of reasons why Apple’s brand is so strong—far too many to go into here. But one of the key aspects lies in its unique approach to blending digital channels with physical retail stores.
A lot of high street retailers treat the online and offline worlds as near-separate channels. Others prefer to drive online shoppers in-store via services such as click-and-collect.
Ever the innovator, Apple has done things entirely differently by making the in-store experience all about education and customer service rather than sales.
Because Apple stores are such low-pressure environments, consumers feel more compelled to visit them, try out new Apple products, and speak to Apple Geniuses (or Genii?). And the more they do that, the more they buy into the brand.
“Multi-channel” doesn’t exclusively refer to totally different online (and offline) environments.
It can just as accurately be used to discuss how brands operate across multiple social channels.
As we all know, different social platforms have very different audiences. You’d expect LinkedIn to have a different audience to TikTok, and for people to use the platforms in different ways.
But it’s equally true for platforms that aren’t so obviously different.
For instance, consider Instagram and Twitter. They have lots in common—both are beloved by brands; both are pretty visual; both have big influencer communities.
However, their user bases are quite different, as demonstrated by data from Sprout Social. Instagram skews females, and its largest age group is 25-34. Twitter, on the other hand, has an overwhelmingly male audience, while its largest age group is significantly older at 30-49.
So it stands to reason that brands should alter their approach across those two channels. Which is exactly what ASOS does.
Here’s a pretty solid example of a tweet from the fashion e-commerce giant:
It’s visual and relatable, while also broadly tying into the brand’s market and products.
In other words, it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from ASOS.
Now, let’s take a look at one of its Instagram posts:
While it’s still aiming for that relatable, casual feel, this post is clearly a lot more “salesy” (since it’s promoting a site-wide discount). That makes sense because Instagram feels like a more sales-driven environment than Twitter.
This is reflected by data from HubSpot, which shows that Instagram delivers the highest ROI of any social platform other than Facebook:
4. Under Armour
Just as the term “multi-channel” can relate to marketing across different social platforms, it can also refer to using the same platform through organic posting and paid media.
Even within the same social network, paid and organic can be different “channels”.
Think about it: when you’re scrolling through Facebook (or Instagram, or Twitter, or any other platform), you’re specifically looking for posts from the people and brands you choose to follow.
When you see those posts, there’s a comparatively good chance you’ll engage because you know—and maybe even like—the people or corporate entities that posted them.
On the other hand, social ads are interruptive. Often, we don’t follow the brands who advertise to us. A lot of the time, we’ll never even have heard of them.
For that reason, paid media is almost always more sales-oriented, whereas organic posting is more about generating engagement and loyalty among people who are already bought into your brand.
Clearly, those two “goals” are quite different.
So it’s no surprise that many brands struggle to make their organic and paid social activity feel consistent—which, as I’ve already discussed, is a key element of high-quality multi-channel marketing.
Under Armour is one brand that gets it exactly right.
Admittedly, as a household name, it has a distinct advantage over your average e-commerce company. Whether or not you follow Under Armour’s social channels, chances are you’re at least somewhat familiar with what it does. And if you aren’t, you likely won’t be part of its target audience anyway.
Still, that’s no guarantee of success. So what does Under Armour do well?
Just like Allbirds, the brand clearly understands what its audience wants.
Much of its marketing hinges on the fact that high-profile sportspeople across multiple disciplines use its products.
In its paid activity, that translates to highlighting its collaborations and promoting specific product ranges:
In contrast, Under Armour’s organic posts are far less promotional. Rather than attempting to directly drive sales, they often tell the story of athletes who use Under Armour products. The products themselves are barely mentioned, if at all. Here’s a good example, featuring long-distance runner Weini Kelati:
That makes for a much more engaging experience. After all, when I follow a brand, I don’t just want to see a bunch of adverts masquerading as organic posts—I want to see content that educates and entertains me.
So, without wishing to labor the point, consistency is important. But consistency doesn’t mean doing the exact same thing across every channel, regardless of what the audience for each channel wants to see.
It’s no secret that e-commerce brands love Instagram.
The reasons why are obvious: it’s one of the most effective platforms for connecting with shoppers. Indeed, Instagram’s own data shows that 90 percent of users follow a business account. What’s more, 50 percent of consumers say they feel more interested in a brand after seeing ads for it on the platform.
However, there’s an obvious problem with Instagram: the whole link-in-bio thing. Unless you’re allowing customers to buy from within the Instagram app, it can be difficult to create a unified, multi-channel shopping experience that starts on Instagram and ends with a purchase.
That’s a major issue for a company like Sephora, which has almost 21 million Instagram followers—and no doubt wants to monetize those followers.
…straight to the relevant product page:
This is a simple and highly effective example of multi-channel marketing in action because it does what all good marketing should do. It reaches the customer with a compelling message and a product they want to buy, then makes it simple for them to convert.
Like so many other things in marketing, multi-channel campaigns sound complicated but are actually simple.
Ultimately, it boils down to finding a message that resonates with audiences across several channels, then tailoring your language, visuals, calls to action, and other key elements to each individual platform. You don’t need to be a genius to get it right; you just need to put the work in.
When you understand your audience and know which channels they like to use for which purposes, the rest becomes easy.