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How to Create Cross-Channel Campaigns: 5 Do’s, 5 Don’ts, 3 Examples

How to Create Cross-Channel Campaigns: 5 Do's, 5 Don'ts, 3 Examples
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To effectively create a brand marketing strategy, you can’t focus all efforts on one silo. After all, while some people tend to check their emails, others are glued to social media, but many search Google for answers and end up reading lengthy blog posts for more information.

There is no ‘right’ way to learn about a company or a person, which is why cross-channel campaigns are essential for success. Here, we spoke with marketing experts with decades of experience to dig into the 101 to engage each channel. Consider this your crash-course into what to do — and what to avoid.

What are cross-channel campaigns?

What are cross-channel campaigns?

As the name suggests, a cross-channel campaign is a brand’s approach to sharing information, including news, sales, or other updates, across many platforms. These include, but are not limited to, websites, emails, SMS messaging, social media, blogs, news outlets, print-on-demand providers, advertising, and so on.

By creating a strategy for each of these mediums, you ensure your message finds the right people in relevant and actionable ways, according to Esther Poulsen, founder and CEO of Raare Solutions, LLC.

“An intelligent cross-channel marketing program ensures that the overall ad-spend is efficient and effective, and reaches consumers in relevant ways,” she adds.

The value of cross-channel campaigns can’t be discounted, especially since Harvard Business Review found 73 percent of shoppers use more than one channel to shop. And those businesses that used four or more channels beat out companies who only use one or two mediums by 300 percent.

These numbers speak for themselves — and provide an incentive for brands to think critically about every direction of information sharing.

As Kevin Poirier, chief marketing officer and co-owner of East End Yovth, puts it, if a business is running a campaign and wants to maximize reach, delivering messaging across several channels will increase the level of conversion, and therefore significantly increase return. In other words: it’s a definite win-win.

5 do’s of cross-channel campaigns

5 do’s of cross-channel campaigns

If you’re new to cross-channel campaigns or you’re struggling to convince a client to invest, it’s essential to come to the table with a plan.

Here, experts share the most beneficial ways to execute this strategy, including:

  • Do be laser-focused with your goal
  • Do tailor the approach to each channel
  • Do track everything
  • Do carve out separate budget for each channel
  • Do listen to your customer’s needs and preferences

1. Do be laser-focused with your goal

It’s one thing to be calculated and precise about your touchpoints on every channel, and it’s another thing to post way too often, say too much or too little, or to lose sight of the endgame.

Lauren Sloat, senior director of marketing for Street Sense, shares a common cross-channel campaign challenge of trying to accomplish everything simultaneously, thus not doing anything well. Instead, it’s smarter to set measurable goals — and remain focused.

“If you’re trying to achieve reach, engagement, user-generated content, contest entries, and landing page traffic all in the same campaign, you sometimes cannibalize your own goals rather than building a ‘conversion machine’ finely tuned toward one result,” she says.

Try to define the most critical metric, and track accordingly.

2. Do tailor the approach to each channel

The type of users that flock to Instagram likely aren’t the same ones who carefully read over each page of a company’s website before taking action. And those who like short-and-quick emails aren’t likely to spend hours flipping through an SEO-optimized blog. That’s why it’s essential to tailor your approach to every medium, according to Sloat. Otherwise, you run the risk of coming across as lazy — and usually, ineffective.

“While you want to stay consistent with a big idea and key message, you have to do so in a way that resonates with the specific demographics and user behaviors of each channel,” she explains. “Also, force-fitting an idea for the sake of being somewhere doesn’t always further your goal — so be honest about what you’re trying to accomplish and only include channels that can get you there.”

3. Do track everything

Regardless of the channel, it’s impossible to know if your message is hitting the spot if you don’t measure its impact and success. That’s why Poirier says to dig into the data with your campaign efforts. If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, make sure your Google Analytics has an advanced tracking set-up, including conversion goal analytics.

“You can set up tracking on any clickable button on your website, so having goal-based tracking is critical for user path analysis, which are the actions the user takes once they land on your website,” he shares.

Or, if it’s your email channel, be sure you’re able to track which emails have not been opened, opened but not converted, converted, or unsubscribed.

“This is critical because each status will require an actionable follow-up,” he adds.

4. Do carve out a separate budget to support each channel

Many brands get into the position of having to use the same approach across the board because they don’t appropriately budget for each channel’s unique needs, Sloat warns.

“TikTok content functions quite differently than YouTube content, Twitter and Instagram Stories work at a faster pace than Facebook feed content, LinkedIn ad dollars don’t stretch as far as the same buys on other platforms, and the list goes on,” she explains.

To determine how much to allocate to each medium, she suggests starting with a big idea, then map it against how people use each platform, and then create a calculation of the budget required to support content development.

5. Do listen to your customer’s needs and preferences

Not only is this a betrayal of a user’s trust when you send them a message via a channel they have opted out for, but it’s also illegal, Poulsen warns. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission can charge fines exceeding $16,000 per email and $1,500 per text message. Plus, you can become blocked, have your website taken down, and ultimately, completely crush your business.

“This is a risk you do not want to take, and your customer’s preferences should always be considered and respected in any cross-channel program,” she adds.

5 don’ts of cross-channel campaigns

5 don’ts of cross-channel campaigns

You may be eager to get started — but pause to ensure you aren’t making any of these mistakes with your cross-channel campaign strategy.

These are the ‘don’ts’ experts warn against:

  • Don’t assume your traditional channels are always appropriate for each campaign
  • Don’t build a cross-channel program without considering each medium’s call-to-action
  • Don’t get caught in ‘analysis paralysis’ by over-analyzing each program
  • Don’t forget about updating your cross-channel customer engagement touches after customer conversion
  • Don’t forget about design

1. Don’t assume your traditional channels are always the appropriate ones for each campaign

Not every channel needs an update, depending on your campaign. For example, Poirier says the world of social media is large and diverse, and different platforms yield better returns. For a user-generated type of promotion, Instagram and Facebook may provide more results than LinkedIn.

However, if you’re hoping to reach a younger generation, TikTok may be better. The goal is to meet your target user, where they are most active and engaged.

2. Don’t build a cross-channel program without considering each medium’s call-to-action

In other words, Poulsen says each CTA should have data embedded that identify which person responded from a particular channel, whether it’s email, social, digital, or so on.

“Even direct mail calls to action should have distinct CTA URLs or unique QR codes that allow you to measure how each channel performs and link it back to each distinct customer’s behavior,” she shares.

3. Don’t get caught in ‘analysis paralysis’ by over-analyzing each program

Though, yes, it’s beneficial to create test scenarios using different headlines, CTA-text, imagery, and so on, allow your reactions to be flexible in real-time.

“A solid test plan upfront is a baseline for understanding how your multi-channel program structure performs, and don’t be afraid to modify along the way as you determine that tests don’t give you much insight,” Poulsen suggests. “Execute your ‘test and learn’ model methodically, make incremental changes, and use that to build your overall best practices and playbook for future programs.”

4. Don’t forget about updating your cross-channel customer engagement touches after customer conversion

Once you have converted a customer through a cross-channel campaign, you need to keep them engaged and active, so they don’t churn. And, they should be removed from your distribution list of prospective clients. Sometimes, Poulsen says, marketing spend is wasted when ads continue to target customers on one medium who have already taken action on another channel.

For example, a user was converted via Facebook, but they’re still getting emails to ‘join.’

“Communicating on any channel after conversion gives a sense that the brand is disorganized,” she continues. “It is a waste of money and negatively affects brand reputation, which is important for the post-sale customer journey. Work with channel providers to ensure individuals are dropped from a campaign immediately after they complete a sale.”

5. Don’t forget about design

Design is content, too — and it can make or break your strategy. As Sloat says, every channel has a unique tone, style, and even mood. And what works on one channel might fall flat on another.

“Consider your target audience’s state of mind when they’re on any given channel: are they browsing for fun? Are they focused or distracted?” she shares. Use this insight to create the right imagery for their experience and preference.

3 examples of cross-channel campaigns

3 examples of cross-channel campaigns

Whether our experts created these successful campaigns or witnessed them from afar, they rave about these cross-channel approaches.

  • Logitech G ‘No Wires No Limits’ campaign
  • Twitter’s #BlackLivesMatter campaign
  • Royal Caribbean’s ongoing customer retention campaign

1. Logitech G “No Wires No Limits” campaign

Sloat’s team worked with Logitech G to develop and execute a cross-channel campaign to drive awareness of the company’s G-series, a wireless product line with current and prospective gamers. Since the gaming community is divided between wired and wireless peripherals, they developed an integrated, influencer-driven campaign to announce their breakup with wires — and offer a compassionate shoulder for gamers to lean on.

“The campaign leveraged influencer partnerships paid media — including a YouTube advertorial that garnered 1.6M views — digital advertising and a dedicated landing page to engage our user base, solicit user-generated content and inform them on the benefits of wireless peripherals,” she shared. “Through these efforts, Logitech G was able to generate millions of impressions around the ‘Dear Wires’ message and hundreds of UGC-social media submissions from the community.”

2. Twitter’s #BlackLivesMatter campaign

Sloat says Twitter’s #BlackLivesMatter campaign was one of the most innovative and high-impact cross-channel marketing campaigns that came from Twitter in 2020. They turned to content creators and used out-of-home ad buy to create poignant messages using #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackJoy to bring the message beyond the platform, reaching millions.

“This out-of-home ad buy coincided with increased #BlackLivesMatter content on the platform itself, with promotions on Juneteenth, as well as influencer plays, with Twitter partnering with Black artists to create #BlackJoy messages and original work,” she shares. “This innovative cross-channel campaign widened Twitter’s audience while delivering on the company’s social justice values.”

3. Royal Caribbean’s ongoing customer retention campaign.

Poulsen says one brand she feels delivers a harmonized experience is Royal Caribbean, particularly in the domain of abandoned cruise reservations. She’s a huge cruiser — apart from 2020 — and she often goes online to check for sailing based on her mood, interest or just because she’s longing to sail again.

“Royal Caribbean tracks my online browsing for sailings and then enters me into a cross-channel program to remind me to complete sailings via email, coupled with digital ads that reinforce the call to action to complete a booking,” she shares. “It is not overpowering and does a marvelous job of keeping their offerings top-of-mind.”

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About the author

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar is an experienced, established travel and lifestyle journalist, editor, and content strategist. Since uprooting from Asheville, North Carolina in 2010 to Manhattan, Lindsay's work has appeared on several websites, including Travel + Leisure, Vogue, USA Today, Reader's Digest, Self, Refinery29, and countless others. While she is always up for the challenge of any assignment, her main areas of focus include travel, wellness, career, psychology, love and healthy living.