Multichannel marketing is the process of utilizing online and offline marketing communications channels to target and engage with your customers.
As outlined in our Quick Win – Create a Multi-Channel Marketing Plan, the purpose of a multichannel marketing plan is to define a strategy and plan the resources needed to achieve business sales targets. The timeframe is typically annual but potentially longer-term, such as 18 months to three years.
Examples of communications channels could include, for example:
The goal is to deliver leads and sales targets for defined products and services, which can apply to an organization as a whole, or a single market if there are multiple markets and product or service categories.
An effective multichannel marketing plan outlines the marketing communications techniques and channels required to enable customer acquisition for particular product or service categories. A multichannel marketing plan strategically connects multiple channels into one, thriving, multi-channel communications approach.
The key to a successful multichannel marketing plan is integration; a common challenge that most marketers face. If your organization has established a digital marketing plan, for example, it should not be used in isolation, but used to inform the multichannel marketing planning process.
Your multichannel marketing plan should set out campaigns that span multiple channels, catering to the customer, and tailoring them to fit multiple channels. Buying processes are controlled by the customer, rather than the marketer so the ‘always-on’ nature of multichannel marketing will reach customers via the inbound or outbound channel of their choice.
Organizations using an effective integrated multi-channel marketing plan will continuously stand out, gain qualified leads, and maximize conversion throughout the customer lifecycle. Your multichannel marketing plan should therefore continually engage, nurture, and retarget customers to convert to a sale.
A multichannel marketing plan typically includes:
Knowing which campaigns on which channels has led to the most sales will enable you to establish the success of your activities and the return on investment (ROI) that particular channel returns. Customers move across channels quickly, therefore both your strategy and analytics should simultaneously adapt.
For the perfect multichannel plan structure, I recommend you combine SOSTAC® and RACE planning. Why are two frameworks better than one, when we’re seeking simplicity? The reason is that each has its strengths.
SOSTAC® is structured around process covering all stages of creating and implementing your plan including goal-setting, strategy, implementation, and review.
RACE Planning is structured around the many activities in the modern marketing funnel designed to define online and offline tactics to engage audiences to get results.
So, you can see that the strength of SOSTAC® as a general planning framework is also a weakness; it doesn’t apply specifically to the multichannel marketing communications needed to engage an audience through an engagement funnel.
To make sure your multichannel marketing plan has all the essential features, I recommend the SOSTAC® structure developed by PR Smith—Dave Chaffey’s co-author of the printed book Digital Marketing Excellence.
SOSTAC® is a great framework for structuring business, marketing, or digital marketing plans since it’s relatively simple and logical, so it’s easy to remember and to explain to colleagues or agencies. SOSTAC® is a strategic planning process framework that gives you a clear structure to work through to create and manage your plan.
Situation analysis means ‘Where are we now?’ For multi-channel marketers, questions include:
Objectives mean ‘Where do we want to be?’
Strategy means ‘How do we get there?’ Strategy summarizes how to fulfill the objectives. It is the shortest part of the plan, but arguably, the most important, as it gives direction to all the subsequent tactics. It answers questions including:
Tactics are the details of strategy (the marketing mix, communications mix, and channel mix are the tactical tools). They highlight on a campaign timeline exactly which tactics occur when. For example, how do we improve our ‘always-on’ communications, e.g. how to harness Marketing Automation alongside Content Marketing to generate and nurture leads.
To help you plan your multichannel marketing tactics effectively, the RACE Planning system will provide you with a simple framework.
RACE covers the full customer lifecycle or marketing funnel from:
(Plan) > Reach > Act > Convert > Engage
There is also an initial phase of Plan involving creating the overall digital strategy, objective setting, and plan.
RACE consists of four steps or online marketing activities designed to help brands engage their customers throughout the customer lifecycle. This infographic shows the goals for each part of RACE and how you can measure them.
The Smart Insights Multichannel Marketing Growth Wheel infographic gives a visual view of key planning activities that are needed as part of the process of producing an integrated digital marketing plan.
A solid digital marketing plan has:
A multichannel marketing plan is suited to:
It can also act as a longer-term customer engagement plan, focusing on one market or audience.
For larger organizations, formulating multichannel marketing plans is typically challenging, owing to obstacles when attempting to:
A multichannel marketing plan is a marketing communications plan, rather than a broader marketing plan. Key outputs include:
Integration with other organizational plans is critical to connect them all into one, strategic, multi-channel approach to inbound marketing. Integrated with a multichannel marketing plan may be a marketing plan, a digital marketing plan, and a campaign plan, for example. They inform the multichannel marketing plan and vice-versa.
Effective integration and compilation will result in a long-term integrated communications plan for utilizing all of your marketing activities together, to hit lead and sales targets.