Multichannel strategy has been on the agenda for the past few years, it is not a new phenomenon.

Whether marketers have reached multichannel nirvana is up for debate, but we’ve no time for that now, we’ve moved on. 2012 is all about convergence.

Consumers are multi-tasking, technology savvy, interactive individuals these days. They don’t differentiate terms such as channels or devices like marketers do, they are just engaging.

I might be chatting to friends online about a wedding invitation I’ve just received via my laptop, receiving a text message on my smartphone all whilst watching TV. Channels are converging due to new technology and a shift in consumer behaviour, and we need to keep up.

The concept of the second screen is an interesting one, and a major contributor to the convergence debate.

Let’s look at TV as an example. Broadcasters used to have our undivided attention, now they have competition. Rather than battle against other media and channels, TV is all about convergence.

Game shows are beginning to encourage convergence, inviting viewers to play along at home via the internet. For example, ‘The Million Pound Drop’ allows a viewer to play alongside the live broadcast, which allows the broadcaster to share the statistics of how the viewers at home have been scoring throughout the show. 

And of course the new kid on the block, Zeebox, is exploiting the fact that consumers are browsing the internet while they are watching TV by bringing social and traditional media together.

The service requires the user to select the programme they are watching and presents them with a screen showing general information about the show, related links, and a Twitter panel.

This provides a platform to tweet and view tweets about the show in real time. This service is also connected with the users Facebook account.

Zeebox shows the user ‘Live Zeetags’ (things that are currently being tweeted about via the platform). This is very powerful and may even persuade the consumer to switch channels if they see a trending topic of interest.  

Convergence can support interactivity and ultimately drive engagement, but how do marketers tackle this?

Four top tips for dealing with convergence:

No channel is a silo

Convergence defies traditional marketing structures. With so many channels communicating to the consumer, it is crucial that the marketing teams join up to ensure they are transmitting the same message.

That’s not to say we don’t still need experts or specialists, but these experts now need to consider the wider marketing mix and consumer activity.

It’s nice to have options

Every internal part of the organisation should be concerned with the customer; the customer is king.

If you’re not ‘linking up’ and diversifying the channels you communicate through, then you’re missing a trick. Utilise channels, enable channels to converge and encourage consumers to interact.

Collect data

Data allows companies to gain greater insight into their customers’ behaviour and improve channel interaction.

If you don’t understand which channels you’re customers use, when they use them and how they use them then optimising channel interactions will be a challenge.

Don’t sit still, it’s moving fast

Technology and strategy are moving at an exceptionally fast pace. No company can afford to ‘just sit still’. Lewis Carroll wrote about this in ‘Through the Looking Glass’ (1871) during a dialog between Alice and the Queen:

‘Well in our country’ said Alice, still panting a little, ‘you’d generally get to somewhere else – if you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.’

‘A slow sort of country!’ said the Queen. ‘Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!’

Even if you are at the top of the industry, you must keep moving otherwise you may be overtaken by a competitor. A company needs to run in order to stay in the same place, and sprint to move ahead.