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It doesn’t matter what you sell or where you sell it or who you sell it to—people rely on the digital world throughout their purchase journey. There’s no avoiding it. While connecting the dots between all of these digital touchpoints can be challenging and time-consuming, it should be your primary focus during 2019 and beyond. A cross-channel marketing strategy can help you get there.

A Look at a Cross-Channel Shopping Journey

Image Source – Survive & Thrive:  A Cross-Channel Guide for the Modern Advertiser

With three months before the golf season, Sam is in the market for a new set of clubs. Although he believes he’ll purchase the clubs at his local pro shop, he’s committed to sizing up the market beforehand to get the best deal.

To get a sense of his options, Sam turns to Google and types a handful of related queries. A few sites catch his eye, so he clicks through to conduct preliminary research. In his experience, branded websites, although they can be skewed, provide in-depth information that can act as the foundation for the rest of the journey.

With his options whittled down, Sam wants to get an idea of what the outside world is saying. To get an unbiased opinion, he goes to Amazon to read reviews and logs into Facebook to ask his friends and family what they think. Ultimately, he trusts his peers more than anyone.

Combining first- and third-party information, Sam’s made a decision. He heads to his local pro shop to make the purchase.

While your customers may take a different path to purchase, the message to you is the same: Shoppers have adopted (and will continue to) cross-channel behaviors. No one source reigns supreme and they all serve different purposes to different people. Yes, this adds a layer of complexity to your digital marketing efforts, but it also presents you with an unprecedented opportunity to meet them across these digital touchpoints, allowing you to focus your marketing dollars toward the channels driving the biggest impact on purchase decisions.

How to Meet Sam During His Digital Cross-Channel Shopping Journey

Opportunity #1: Sam started his search like most—he typed a handful of related queries into Google. Although your goal should be to rank for keywords and get him to visit your website, you can improve the likelihood of influencing Sam from the onset with search ads and placement opportunities offered by Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Meeting Sam here offers the unique value of introducing yourself when he’s looking to engage with brands like yours.

Opportunity #2: With Sam redirected to a branded website to continue his research, you have another chance to sway his decision. Inventory offered through DSPs can be an effective way to insert your message and guide Sam’s purchase toward your product. And even if he’s engaging in other online activities, like reading the news or watching his favorite TV show via OTT technology, this inventory can make sure you’re reaching Sam and others like him while they’re exhibiting online behaviors that signal buying intent. Using similar tactics in tandem with first -and third-party data segments will get you in front of shoppers who’re likely on the purchase trajectory you’re after.

Opportunity #3: With a better idea of what’s available, Sam wants an unbiased opinion on the golf clubs he’s deciding between. Like many people conducting product research, he heads to Amazon. With Amazon’s growing influence on the shopping journey, it’s impossible to ignore the impact that Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and Stores can have on improving visibility, boosting brand awareness, and inspiring people as they shop. Combine that strategy with Amazon’s targeting capabilities that use shopping behavior and lifestyle data, and you can take your cross-channel marketing strategy to new heights on and off of Amazon-owned property to reach Sam and others exhibiting similar behaviors.

Opportunity #4: Before making his purchase, Sam wants to feedback from his peers. Ultimately, he trusts them more than any source. While social commerce is an oft-debated topic for many, it’s hard to argue with the overarching influence of social, especially when you consider that the average person spends multiple hours on social daily. Although lack-click attribution models steal all the credit, there’s more than enough proof to say that the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Twitter all play a significant role during purchase journey and have the swaying power to shape buying decisions.

These examples may not align perfectly with the way your business functions, i.e., you may use search ads to drive conversions and not to influence initial perception, there are so many opportunities to impact the modern shopper. What should be aligned is your digital advertising efforts. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling golf clubs or toothpaste, shoppers are immersed in digital, and you should be, too. And while you can’t control your customers’ journeys, you can observe it and react.

Reaching Shoppers Across Digital Touchpoints with a Cross-Channel Campaign

Regardless of how you map your customers’ journey, asking yourself what steps you have to take to reach them across digital touchpoints is a logical next step. A cross-channel digital advertising strategy is the only realistic way to achieve this.

To execute a successful cross-channel campaign, it’s important that you think about every aspect of your strategy and tie them together to create more cohesion and higher impact ad experiences. Here’s the groundwork to get started:

Pillar #1 | Media Mix Planning

Before any cross-channel campaign, crafting your strategy with insights derived from industry benchmarks and historical performance is key. Ask yourself, where can I achieve the greatest cost efficiencies? Where am I resonating the most favorably with my ideal customer? As you develop your understanding of customers across digital touchpoints, smarter budget allocation based on previous campaigns will pay dividends.

Pillar #2 | Audience Activation

It goes without saying that even the best intentions will go unnoticed if they’re not aimed at the right people. Avoid this potential roadblock by mapping your high-value customers across channels, and then refining your strategy with that insight. A structured test-and-learn approach will be your best friend as you strive to deepen your understanding.

Pillar #3: Creative Customization

Deliver engaging, seamless ads that unify your advertising experience by focusing on tying creative elements to overarching objectives and KPIs. Providing an enhanced customer experience at each stage is an often undervalued step to a cross-channel campaign.

Pillar #4: Media Optimization

Adapting your strategy based on what’s working and what’s not can be one of the most effective levers available for you to pull during any cross-channel advertising strategy. As you gain a better understanding of the ideal budget allocation, don’t be afraid to shift spend accordingly and strive for more efficient spending.

Pillar #5: Holistic Analysis

Finally, bridge the cross-channel measurement gap and capture holistic insights into how different audience subsets perform and what impact different channels are having on your cross-channel results. Actionable insights and data-driven directions will be your Northstar for cross-channel marketing success.

If you take one thing away from this, make it be this: Stop concentrating on specific digital capabilities and cost-cutting behaviors, and focus on creating the best digital experience across channels for your customers. How you go about this will be different for everyone, and that’s ok. Cross-channel transformation is hard, but it’s a necessity—it’s the only way to stay in step with your customers. The sooner you accept that the better.

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