Channel Surfing - Multichannel Engagement

Linc Wonham
by Linc Wonham 17 Oct, 2011

According to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, nearly 50 percent of today's global brands have made multichannel engagement a top priority. For any business that distributes content on the Web, the chances are high that some of your competitors are focusing on that very initiative.

If you haven't already begun, it's time for you to do the same.

Today's consumers are becoming increasingly familiar with a broader range of content-distribution methods, allowing them to receive the information they want at all hours of the day no matter where they are or what device they're using. Website Magazine recently selected NPR and the Weather Channel among its top Web companies of 2011 in part because of their sensibilities for this emerging trend, but the importance of multichannel engagement is in no way limited to news and media organizations.

Any company that conducts business on the Web must adapt to each and every method of content distribution such as social media, mobile optimization, email, video and many more. To neglect just one of these channels today is the virtual equivalent of turning customers away from your business or brand.

Here are some basic tips to help integrate multichannel engagement into your current Web marketing plan:

Be social
By now, most companies on the Web have embraced social media to some degree. More often than not, however, the channel is underutilized, resulting in missed opportunities to connect with consumers. One of the greatest benefits of sites such as Facebook and Twitter is that they give businesses the opportunity to engage directly with customers to find out more about their wants and needs. Business owners that do not engage in these discussions through surveys, by offering reviews or holding contests are not getting the most out of their social media efforts.

Then mobilize

One of the most common pitfalls for website owners in this developing mobile era is lacking an understanding of the needs of their audience before they "go mobile". Social media provides a channel to determine just that before a company starts developing mobile applications that its customers will never use or optimizing its website for users who are better-suited for apps. Every company on the Web has to have a mobile strategy today, but diving into it before knowing the preferences of your audience can be costly.

Don't ignore video
While the mobile channel is gaining most of the attention from marketers today, Web video remains one of the fastest-growing and most valuable platforms through which to connect with consumers. Put the two channels together and you may have the hottest vehicle in digital marketing right now. Not only are informational videos, how-to videos and product videos among the most popular methods for reaching and converting customers today, they also provide a significant boost in search engine results.

And don't forget the basics
It may not have the cachet that some of these emerging channels do, but email remains one of if not the most effective methods for marketing a business on the Web. Print advertising and direct mail may sound even more archaic in today's landscape, but that's the beauty of multichannel engagement - when used together, every channel has its purpose. Another old-school marketing channel can be every bit as effective as the others when used in conjunction with strong social, mobile messaging, video, email and print campaigns: the telephone. In today's increasingly digital world, there's still nothing quite like a personal touch to let consumers know that your business is operated by living, breathing human beings.