Print is getting a little help from its friends. Thanks to digital enhancements, including QR codes, augmented reality and social platforms, the printed piece is positioned to engage prospects from a cross-media perspective. But this raises new questions for marketers: How can multiple channels be successfully integrated into cohesive campaigns? How do recipients prefer to receive communication? And how can results be accurately quantified?
Print+Promo turned to the experts for answers. Below, they share thoughtful approaches for launching optimal cross-media campaigns.
An effective cross-media campaign provides clients with actionable customer results. Campaigns vary in technique, but a favorable outcome hinges on strategy. Without a clear plan, companies will struggle to yield a positive return. According to Sarah Mannone, director, account services at Trekk Inc., Rockford, Ill., the best place to start is to define campaign objectives.
“Are you trying to generate leads or sales? Those are two very different things,” she commented. “Is it to build awareness of your brand, or is it to drive traffic to your website? Those require very different strategies.”
After this step is complete, marketers must prioritize their chosen objectives. Is it more important for the campaign to generate a lot of leads or convert one sale? Furthermore, what goal should the campaign deliver on to satisfy upper management?
“Carefully identifying, defining and prioritizing your goals and objectives is key,” Mannone stressed. “They not only become the pillars against which you measure and report on success, but they also give you a compass by which to direct your team and the decisions you make along the way.”
In addition, Mannone encouraged marketers to use their campaign goals as a guide. Otherwise, it will be impossible to appease the designer who wants to use certain photography, or the programmer looking to build mobile apps, she said.
“Does that style of photography capture attention? If so, it might be good for an awareness effort. Does that mobile application help simplify daily tasks for its users? If so, it’s a great fit for retention and loyalty,” Mannone suggested. “[...] It’s all about coming back to your goals and making sure that everything you do in shaping your strategy and tactics is specifically tied to meeting one or multiple of those objectives. If not, lose it.”
Cross-media marketing is about reaching “the right people, at the right time, with the right message through the right channel,” Mannone pointed out. Who are the “right people?” Segmenting prospects and tailoring messages to those segments for which the offer is most relevant is crucial.
Tony Abunassar, president of Hunt Valley, Maryland-based WebbMason Interactive, the online marketing services group of WebbMason, explained the importance of identifying how a variable such as age can influence channels.
“WebbMason has recently run a successful multi-channel program that targets seniors, with an average age of 74, as well as their health partners, who tend to be their children in their ’40s,” he recounted. “One key performance metric we measured was the target’s preferred communication channels. Our data indicated that 84 percent of those seniors we enrolled in our program prefer to receive mailed, paper communications. Conversely, 60 percent of their ‘health partners’ consider email communication a better option.”
Mannone believes that the objective naturally identifies the target audience. “Ultimately, by starting with your objective, you’re able to identify your best target segment and any sub-segments. Once you combine your specific objectives with your specific targets, you’ve narrowed the pool of tactics that are most fitting from dozens down to a handful,” she said. “Additionally, your objectives and audience work has now enabled you to determine the best creative and message strategy, based on what resonates with them.”
Cross-media campaigns can be rewarding when properly executed. However, they also present challenges. “Connecting the dots between marketing investment and outbound generation [is a common challenge],” noted Joseph G. Scott, MAS, vice president of Scott & Associates Inc., Chanhassen, Minn. “Doing this with e-commerce clients is simple. Service businesses are a bit more challenging. Inbound marketing systems help quite a bit.”
Abunassar cited database maintenance. “Any good campaign will require that you start with—and maintain—a clean and accurate database,” he said. “On any given project, you may be working with a marketing database, a prospect database you purchased, and customer database from a CRM that all need to be scrubbed, integrated and maintained in a single location.
“At WebbMason, we have developed technology to help us accomplish this previously Herculean feat and it has dramatically improved our results,” Abunassar continued. “Developing a clean database is the single most important step to effectively manage a multi-channel campaign that links multiple online and offline marketing vehicles.”
Mannone agreed, adding content to the list of pain points. She has particularly observed a pattern where companies fail to recognize what they have or how to use the content to deliver rich campaigns. She first recommended auditing your content (both old and new). “If you don’t have a content management system, create a simple Excel file that you and your team can manage. Identify the type of piece (white paper, brochure, etc.), its title, and what it includes (project specs, project description, features and benefits, etc.),” Mannone instructed. “Now you’ll know where you can pull these pieces of information from any time you need them. As you’re compiling your file, look at what needs updating and start tracking that. As updates become available, check them off your list.”
Next, evaluate the content. Is there a better way to distribute the central message of each piece? Mannone gave the example of white papers. “If you have 25-page white papers on your product/service and its applications, think about turning that same content into a supplementary video. [...] Or perhaps [the white paper] can serve as a series of short videos or provide fodder for your daily social media posts,” she said. “Once you’ve audited your content thoroughly, you should have enough big and small pieces of content to fuel your direct mail, email, social, mobile and video editorial calendar for the next few months. And you’re now thinking about using this content cross-media, adding channels and opportunities for response along the way.”
Tracking results is necessary to measure the efficacy of any cross-media campaign. This can be done in several ways depending on the copy and methods of the campaign. “Many campaigns are designed to sell products and services, which can be measured via business and/or web analytics,” Scott remarked. “We also view social media likes, followers, subscribers, the target’s engagement with the message and downloaders as assets that increase the value of a business.”
Abunassar mentioned the influence of urgency in today’s business environment. As a result, tracking methods have shifted from analyzing final campaign metrics to monitoring progress in real time. “When you are running a multi-channel, multi-touch campaign, people expect multi-dimensional results,” Abunassar said. “A truly effective multi-channel campaign will feature a user dashboard that will present results from all programs, online and offline, in real time. This provides marketers with the ability to change a program ‘on the fly’ and improve the response rates, conversion rates and overall effectiveness of a campaign.”
Mannone offered a final thought. “In a world where all are working to do more with less, tracking and reporting on results is no longer a nice thing to have—it’s a necessity. Just as is creating a positive and engaging customer experience and increased ROI,” she concluded. “Therein lies the power of multi-channel campaigns.”