When you focus your attention on just one thing you fail to spot what is going on around you.
In both sales and marketing, standing still and going down a tried and tested route for too long will start having an adverse effect on performance and it’s vital that you take a look at alternative options that will give your efforts a new perspective and a much-needed boost.
As anyone who has worked in either sales or marketing will testify, it’s absolutely crucial that you focus your efforts on more than one channel in order to succeed. If you simply reach out to prospects over email the chances are that they’ll just hit the delete button and you might never hear from them again. Similarly, if you only post content on your blog and hope that it will change the world for you and your business, you’re going to be pretty disappointed.
So what do you do about it to ensure that you reach the right people, and ensure that your great content is being found? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Cross-channel strategies: what are they?
Cross-channel sales and marketing strategies might sound complicated but they’re not actually as complex as they sound. In actual fact, you have most of the infrastructure in place already, you just might not be using it to its full potential.
A great cross-channel sales and marketing strategy will enable you to reach different audiences in different places, increasing both brand exposure and engagement in the process. This can be done through a variety of different methods, including:
- Website content including landing pages
- Blog and downloadable content (eBooks, whitepapers, etc.)
- Case studies and testimonials
- Emails and newsletters
- Prospecting and sales calls
The ingredients for a high quality cross-channel sales and marketing strategy
If you’re going to build the kind of sales and marketing strategy that works across each of your channels, and keeps both departments aligned and working together to achieve the same goals, then you need to get the foundations in place before you start working on your next campaign.
The most important considerations are:
- A consistent experience with your brand so users know exactly who they are engaging with across any platform
- Knowledge of the target audience and the channels they are using
- What the user is trying to achieve
- The ability to increase engagement by using different, relevant channels
Create a consistent experience with your brand
The most important thing with a cross-channel strategy is to offer a consistent experience for those who engage with your brand - in whatever way they choose.
Users today have access to your brand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and often use different platforms and devices to do it. They might use the website while they’re at work and then social media channels on their smartphones at home, and you need to ensure that your brand is available to them when and where they want it.
This means you need to call upon your brand guidelines to stay true to who you are, your messaging and how you’re seen, as users will only see a brand and not a platform or channel.
In practice, a user might visit your website to read a blog post or land on a service page with a view to investing in your brand, and they might then receive an email that they read on their smartphone later on advising them of a new promotion or an additional blog post that they might be interested in.
The same is true whenever you speak to a prospect over the phone. While your marketing strategy might be aimed at bringing in new leads through specific messaging you need your sales team to be ready to follow through and maintain the same kind of approach for consistency. If your marketing department is saying one thing then your sales team should be expanding on that, not contradicting it, in order to get that lead over the line or, at very least, down the pipeline.
Understand where your customers and prospects are coming from
Once you have your platforms and messaging in place, you need to get analytical in your approach. Building your strategy based on pure guesswork and hoping it’ll have the desired effect is not going to cut it, so you need to use the wealth of data you have at your disposal to your advantage in order to develop a killer cross-channel sales and marketing strategy.
Every platform you use - whether it’s your website content, your sales software, your social media channels or even your email marketing software - has its own data stream and this can provide you with some incredibly insightful information relating to your audience. You have access to data relating to the time of day that people engage, the most popular day of the week for enquiries, even geographical information showing where your audience are by city or state so that you can adapt the content and timing of your messages accordingly.
For example, you might notice that a large proportion of recent site visitors have come from the West Coast of the United States.
If you’re based in the UK then it’s important that you target those users at the best time for them and that might mean scheduling your next email campaign to go out around prime West Coast time so that your next promotional message or blog post is at the top of their inbox when they arrive at work in the morning, rather than sending it out in the middle of the night.
Factor customer intent into your marketing strategy
Understanding what prospects and customers are trying to achieve with their enquiry or visit to the site will also help to shape your cross-channel strategy. Customer intent is a major part of every marketing strategy and forms a key pillar on which the content you create should be built upon and around.
You might get some users who land on your site based on an informational search query relating to what you offer, and at this stage they are just exploring their options and attempting to learn more about the product, service or sector. This will need a more educational approach from your marketing and sales messages, as they might not be in the market to buy at the moment but may be in a few days, weeks or months’ time. As a result you might send them an email sharing similar content pieces from your blog, or a link to a service page that provides key details relating to the product or service, and the packages available.
You might also get people who visit your site and head straight to a contact or subscription form and this shows a clear transactional intent that they are ready and willing to invest, and this will require a completely different approach as you know they are in the market for your product or service and it’s down to you to provide them with the best package or smoothest transaction to close the deal.
In this example you might alert your sales department to the form completion and it’s down to them to research the person or business, the sector they are in and how your product or service will benefit them when they sign up before they reach out directly over the phone.
The language and messaging in general will vary as users move through the buying journey and increase their level of understanding. A good rule of thumb for all departments is:
- Awareness phase: little/no understanding. Require clear, concise language to learn. Will benefit from generic/top-level content explaining the product or service.
- Consideration phase: basic level of understanding. Have a problem and are looking for a solution (yours!) Will benefit from educational content and reviews.
- Decision phase: good level of understanding. Know what their problem is and the options to solve it - why should they commit to you? Will benefit from case studies and testimonials, plus detailed user guides or product demonstrations.
How to increase engagement through your sales and marketing channels
One of the biggest challenges experienced by sales and marketing teams individually is that there is limited success when using a single-channel approach.
An email marketing campaign might bring in a certain number of new leads based on existing subscriptions, for example, but once that list of contacts starts to move through the funnel you need a stream of new contacts coming in at the start and that may require a different approach to target new users.
The problem is that teams get used to working in silos, all striving to achieve their own goals, and it’s difficult to break down those barriers when you take a more aligned approach to your sales and marketing strategy.
Sales teams are tasked with closing deals, marketing teams with bringing in new leads and customer service teams are focussed on keeping customers happy; so when you start a new approach of each team working together towards a common goal it can be difficult to get people away from their individual habits.
When you break down those barriers and take an aligned approach it can make a huge difference to customer engagement. Using the most relevant channels for the customer, based on the data you’ve already collected and analysed, you can reach out to them at the best time and in the right place for them and this can really resonate with users.
It might not even be one message that hits home, you might have to send out two or three targeted messages across email automation and social media, or even over the phone, in order to fully engage your prospect or customer in conversation or with the content you’ve put out on your site in an attempt to get users over the line.
There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that it takes more than one attempt to engage a prospect and then multiple follow-ups to arrange a meeting or demonstration, and then more to close the deal.
Hopefully this has given you plenty to think about and discuss with your own marketing and sales teams in the coming weeks. Should you need a brief summary, here are some key takeaways to remember when you put your cross-channel strategy together:
- Remain consistent across all channels
- Learn where customers come from and the channels they use
- Give users what they want, where they want it, when they want it
- Understand customer intent and adapt your messaging accordingly
- Increase engagement by following-up on leads with targeted messaging