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best-defenceLow costs, global reach, easy implementation and tracking. The benefits of multichannel digital marketing are manifold, but there's still a definite tendency by many companies to play on the safe side.

A large number of employers simply don't trust their staff to remain on message when taking their first steps into multichannel, and with social outreach at an all time high there certainly are examples that back up that age-old adage: To err is human.

Even those who've successfully mastered the digital domain made the occasional slip-up, with global giants like Starbucks and Nestle tripping up by adopting the wrong tone, or simply applying old school broadcast media attitudes to new channels.

These slip-ups are unfortunately often par for the course, and while they may provide you with plenty of buzz, it won't be the kind you were hoping for.

Traditional broadcast marketing by its very nature requires that the advertiser assume full control of the message, but digital campaigns differ entirely. Online you aren't delivering a message, you're sparking up a conversation and just as in real life, you won't always get along with everyone you meet.

There's also still a lack of understanding in many boardrooms used to selling their product directly. Social networks and blogs have leveled the playing field.

You may well be Fortune 500 listed, but that doesn't mean that a housewife from Nowheresville can’t initiate a fully functional campaign to condemn your company, product and brand.

Hang on...” you may be thinking, “Isn't he here to sell me on the idea of social outreach, rather than terrify me?” Indeed I am, but a few home truths upfront only serve to strengthen the message.

If you want an effective multichannel marketing presence, then in many cases you'll need to initiate a complete organisational shift. From boardroom to basement, success rides on an open and transparent approach that encompasses everything from customer service to marketing strategy.

It sounds like a tall order, but if you take time to examine how and where others have failed then a clear pattern quickly emerges. Ultimately, it’s down to attitude.

Let's examine some of the most common mistakes:

1: Lack of planning.

One of the major benefits offered by digital is the relative ease of launching and distributing a campaign. Social networking and aggregator sites mean you can make your message visible to a huge variety of audiences very quickly. 

Unfortunately this can lead to a hastily assembled campaign.

Just because the outreach is quicker, that doesn’t mean you can rush the initial stages. Take a breath and make sure you plan your online campaigns with exactly the same amount of care you take with print or broadcast.

Poorly considered messages will come back to haunt you.

2: Lack of integration

Many companies make the mistake of offering great online offers, but then don’t plan continuous follow up action, or don’t tie that campaign into their wider efforts.

Remember, multichannel is about full spread integration. Your digital campaigns should be easily identifiable with your wider brand presence.

3: Lack of authenticity

As mentioned earlier, several major brands have fallen at this hurdle in the past.

Above all else, you must be honest online.

Remember, every single customer can check every single one of your statements for veracity, and has the power to alert all your other customers if you’re telling fibs.

However good your idea, you need to be transparent and authentic.

As an example, you might want to show customers using your product in interesting ways, if you do, make sure they are real customers. Don’t be tempted to use actors.

People will know.

4: Lack of trust.

Again and again companies fail at this. Of course, it’s your product and it’s your message, but if you love it, you have to set it free.

As soon as your message hits the tubes people will begin quoting from it, repurposing it, mashing it up with pictures of kittens, and you simply can’t afford to be annoyed about it.

If the message is garnering a lot of negative reactions then obviously you should engage in damage control, but even then keep telling yourself that it’s not your message anymore.

It’s a public statement. You need to react to public sentiment in an open and honest fashion.

Let your customers know that you get it by handing over the reins.  

5: Lack of monitoring.

Again, you will need to release control of the way your message is utilized by others, but that doesn’t mean you should simply let it fly and forget about it.

Many companies are still failing to set up proper monitoring, or simply looking for the wrong things.

By keeping track of the buzz your campaign is generating, both positive and negative, you will be well placed to engage directly with your supporters and to head off any naysayers.

Make sure you factor in enough time to consider what you want to gain from the campaign and how you want to monitor it.

More importantly, be prepared to consistently follow up on feedback.

Any forward thinking business should be considering the advantages of multichannel, and while there are dangers they can be avoided by instigating a well thought out governance structure.

While many factors will contribute to the overall success of a campaign, putting the correct initial processes in place can certainly help you to guide the way users engage with your brand and avoid any major problems later on. 

Truly effective campaigning involves both broad management policy as well as concise, targeted policies.  

These major points should be implemented at structural level within your organisation:

Be strategically consistent

Decide on your strategy early and stick to it. This sounds simple, but with constantly changing methods of interaction it’s easy for your initial policies to become muddied or lost entirely. 

Make sure you lay out clear rules of engagement and promote them actively across your entire organization to help anyone engaging with customers remain on message.

Have a flexible damage limitation strategy ready in the event of negative reaction.

No matter how great your campaign or how fantastic your product is, it’s still impossible to please absolutely everyone.

Monitor negative feedback consistently and engage it as quickly as possible, and above all do not be tempted to dismiss it or get drawn into a flame campaign.

If you receive a negative comment at any point, engage the commenter, ask about their problem and publically attempt to resolve the grievance.

You won’t always be successful, but the willingness to do so openly will help foster a better brand image overall.

Allow flexible campaign interaction.

Working in multiple channels requires a multi-departmental approach. While your campaign may originate in marketing, consider which other departments will need to be involved and assign an inter-departmental team to the project.

You may need to include HR, Sales, Web management and many more so consider exactly who has the most relevant knowledge of all the channels you are utilizing and get them on board at the start.

Track everything.

Finally, make sure you’re tracking the correct metrics. What are your goals for this campaign? Increased awareness, more traffic or a higher conversion rate?

It’s highly likely that it’s a combination of these and more, so make sure you have tools in place to track all engagements and cross reference them if needed.

If something is wrong then it will show up here first, so be prepared to fast track measurement data to the whole team so that it can be acted upon according to your strategy.


Making sure you have these key points in place at the start of all your campaigns will help you develop a secure, long-term strategy and avoid the more common pitfalls presented by multichannel and deal quickly and effectively with any problems that do arise.

By incorporating these processes into your organisational structure you’ll equip yourself with a consistent approach to multichannel that’s in line with your desired brand image and fosters stronger relationships with your customer base.

Matt Owen

Published 22 July, 2010 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen was formerly Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or hook up on LinkedIn.

203 more posts from this author

Comments (1)

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Bangalow Accommodation

Trust and consistency is key in SM.

about 6 years ago

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