Email, mobile, social—it’s hard to keep up with the various ways to reach an audience. If you’ve been dismayed by the low response rates your marketing campaigns have received, it might be time to change the channel. But why stick with one when so many options are available? If you’re looking to fully optimize your marketing budget, it’s time to utilize multichannel campaigns.
So, how do they work? Essentially, multichannel campaigns blend outreach tools, like direct mail, personalized URLs (PURLs), QR codes, augmented reality, social media, video and more, into one seamless user experience. Chances are, you’ve already used these forms of media at some point, but if you haven’t implemented them into a single, cohesive campaign, you could be missing out on boundless business possibilities.
You might be wondering which marketing channels should, without a doubt, be included in your campaigns, or how you can ensure greater response and conversion rates.
To address those questions and help you get started, Print+Promo reached out to Sarah Mannone, vice president of client services, TREKK, Rockford, Ill.; and Michael Mapes, president and CEO, Primadata, Green Bay, Wis. Here some of their best tips:
1. Set effective goals
The beginning stage of any multichannel campaign is the most important. Without effective goals in place from the start, your campaign won’t stand a chance. “I think [your goals] need to be tied to a specific business objective,” Mannone said. “It’s important to understand what results you’ve gotten in the past.
“If you’ve done a multichannel campaign before, you’ve really got to give a baseline for what’s working and what hasn’t worked, and set goals on the incremental improvement you want to see over what you’ve done in the past,” she continued. “And, I think you need to understand what the industry looks like and what sort of response rate is realistic.”
Mapes agreed that your goals should be in-line with a specific business intention. “In setting a goal for the campaign, it’s best to narrow it down to be as specific as possible as to what you want to accomplish,” he said. “Is it a call-to-action? Is it an event or trade show you want people to attend? Do you have a specific product or service that you’re hoping to increase? Or, are you looking for increased membership and renewals?”
2. Look at the data
With your goals in place, it’s time to look at the data you have on your user base. “Typically, [the data] will dictate what channels will be targeted,” Mannone said. “Starting with the data and building the buyer personas is the first step to building effective multichannel campaigns.”
Mannone advised taking note of buyer behaviors, preferences, titles, roles and any other relevant piece of information. “Once the profiles are built out and you know what channels you’re going to target, you move into a strategy of how you’re going to move a prospect through the experience,” she explained. From there, you can decide how you’re going to move the users through the campaign, which media form you want to start with, how you’ll engage the users and what you’ll do if they’re not engaged.
Data also comes in handy throughout the course of a multichannel campaign, according to Mannone. “Think of every touch point in the campaign as an opportunity to either change course if it’s not working, or stay the course to fuel that channel because the response is so high,” she said.
3. Don’t forget print
You’ve gathered the data and formulated your strategy. Now, you’ve got to decide which media channels you’re going to use to carry out your marketing plan. With so many advances in technology, email and mobile marketing might seem like the obvious choices. While these tactics are important to implement, don’t underestimate the power of print.
“I would say that, truly, we find we get the highest response rate when we’re sending out a postcard with a PURL asking users to go to a landing page,” Mapes said. “And the reason for this is, even though we can [market] through text messaging or email, it’s so much easier in this world to hit ‘delete’ on a computer or a phone. When someone gets a physical postcard in the mail that has their name and some variable graphics that speak specifically to them, they are less likely to throw it away.”
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should forget about new media. Instead, the two entities can come together. “I think blending [print and digital] is really important,” Mannone said. “For us, it’s all about moving people forward—from a static, printed touch point to an online or digital experience where we can engage with [the prospects]. “I think the best play is when the channels are feeding each other and are connected.”
But if you’re still worried print isn’t the right fit for your audience, Mannone offered a tip. “The use of augmented reality is a way to bridge the gap between print and digital,” she said. “We’re looking at ways to take people from where they are in a mailer to an alternative environment where they can experience and engage in three dimensions. Those experiences continue to compel people, and really create memorable campaigns and engagement in the brand.”
4. Design for the smallest screen
With your multichannel campaign mapped out, it’s time to design the campaign itself. But, which channel should you design for first? “Think about the smallest device first,” Mannone said. “If you’re going to launch a campaign that includes print, social and ads, I think you really need to start with the smallest screen you’re designing for because mobile’s going to play a role in some way, shape or form. If the email is not mobile-compatible or the content doesn’t look right on a small screen, it’s a big miss for the user.”
5. Avoid bad timing
Imagine that after weeks of researching and designing your multichannel campaign, you lose conversions because you chose the wrong time to launch.
Mapes urged marketers to check their calendars before deploying a campaign. “If you’re going to ask a specific, targeted group of recipients to take a call-to-action, make sure that the timing is appropriate,” he said. “We did a campaign for a software company going out to educators. They wanted to send the campaign out the first week in September, which is horrible timing because every educator is busy getting their classes organized and starting school. And the campaign had one response. We tried to tell them the timing was wrong, but that’s when they wanted to do it.”
6. Add incentives
To increase open-rates and conversion, it can help to use extra motivation. If you’re looking to drive a certain call-to-action, you’ve got to include an incentive. “The better the incentive, the better the success rates,” Mapes said. “People will typically go to a landing page, and give you some feedback if they know they’re going to get something in return. And that incentive should be in-line with whatever product or service you’re offering.”
Multimedia campaigns might seem like a tactic that requires too much time and effort to execute, but, for Mapes, it’s always worth it. “The outcome of the business that will come in from these targeted and relevant campaigns is such a higher response rate versus the plain, static card that goes out in the mail,” he said. “So, while the costs to produce it are more expensive, the results are so much greater than when you typically look at the cost versus the outcome. The profit ends up being a much higher ratio, and many people don’t realize that.”