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What Is Cross-Channel Marketing + How Does It Improve ROI

Subharun Mukherjee 18+ years of experience leading product strategy, Go-To-Market (GTM), new market entry, value-based sales, analyst relations, and customer experience programs. Expertise in Financial Services, eCommerce, on-demand services, and the SaaS industry.
What Is Cross-Channel Marketing + How Does It Improve ROI

Imagine you’ve downloaded a popular fashion retailer’s mobile app and received an onboarding email with a promo for new app users. To avoid missing out on the time-sensitive offer, you pick some items from their site, apply the discount code from your email, and make your transaction.
This is just one example of how cross-channel marketing helps drive sales. 
Cross-channel marketing is the strategy of engaging with customers through a range of communications channels — including email, SMS, mobile apps, and social media. 
Since it helps brands create consistent messaging while providing customers with relevant, personalized content, cross-channel integration can be pivotal for stimulating sales growth.*
Keep reading to learn more about the importance of cross-channel marketing and how it can help your business grow.
Table of contents:

What Is Cross-Channel Marketing?

Cross-channel marketing allows brands to interact with consumers across several channels such as web, email, mobile app, SMS, call center, direct mail, and in person.
This approach enables your brand to send relevant marketing content through each channel of your customers’ shopping experience. Cross-channel marketing tactics can be employed across various stages of the customer journey, from customer acquisition to retention.
Savvy marketers will want to take advantage of cross-channel marketing to add more touchpoints to the user’s buying journey. Keep reading to fully understand how to create a cross-channel marketing strategy and how it differs from multichannel and omnichannel marketing.

Cross-Channel vs. Multichannel Marketing

While they might sound similar, there are major differences between multichannel marketing and cross-channel marketing. 
Cross-channel marketing involves the use of different channels to execute a single campaign. On the other hand, multichannel marketing refers to communication with customers across a range of channels that work independently from each other.
For example, in cross-channel marketing, you might download a brand’s mobile app and receive a welcome email about your membership. This strategy uses more than one channel (mobile app, email) to create a single successful campaign. 
Multichannel marketing, on the other hand, is less specific. With multichannel marketing, a brand uses as many channels as possible to interact with customers and execute a range of unrelated campaigns. For example, a company may use a mobile app, email, SMS, social media, and storefront to engage with customers, but the campaigns on each channel are disconnected from one another.

Cross-Channel vs. Omnichannel Marketing

Cross-channel marketing is slightly different from omnichannel marketing. The omnichannel approach uses consistent and personalized messaging across all channels, to provide a seamless shopping experience with interconnected touch-points working toward the same goal. 
For example, in omnichannel marketing, a person might see an ad for a brand’s product and add it to their cart, then receive an in-store discount for that product via email. From there, they would visit the store, get personalized suggestions from the clerk based on their web account, and earn rewards points and personalized offers via mobile app after making a transaction.
Cross-channel marketing is the cooperation between a few channels like email and SMS, while omnichannel marketing interconnects all channels. Both provide consumers with a cohesive shopping experience.

Cross-Channel Marketing Benefits

Brands today know how crucial it is to engage with consumers through a variety of communications channels, but why exactly is it so important? Here are the six main benefits of cross-channel marketing for your company:
1. Improves Return on Investment (ROI)

One of the biggest advantages of cross-channel marketing is that it helps businesses achieve a better ROI. By analyzing customer data, cross-channel marketers can determine which channels aren’t producing conversions.
After identifying weak points, your brand can improve its channels to keep customers coming back. This increase in retention across multiple, connected channels can lead to higher ROI. Marketers using at least three channels for their campaigns have a 90% higher customer retention rate than those with fewer channels.*

2. Personalizes the Shopping Journey

A cross-channel approach allows marketers to identify their users’ ideal channels and offers for various stages in their shopping journey. After examining a customer’s ideal channel preferences, marketers can serve a shopping experience in the format the customer desires. For example, if users prefer SMS, you can lean into rich media messaging opportunities.
In addition to delivering content on the user’s desired channel, cross-channel marketing also uses customer data to create personalized messages. This feature is highly beneficial, since 80% of customers are more likely to buy from brands that send personalized messages.*

3. Delivers a Seamless Experience

Cross-channel marketing uses several communications channels to deliver a single campaign, requiring a seamless integration of multiple platforms for success. For example, a receipt from an in-store purchase is added to a customer’s mobile app. Soon, the mobile app will show them relevant offers based on their purchase history.
From mobile apps and emails to live e-store chats and in-person interactions, today’s consumers are pushing for seamless shopping journeys across the expanding range of channels they use. In fact, 87% of customers believe brands need to invest in a seamless omnichannel experience.* 
Cross-channel marketing is one way your brand can execute the seamless, multichannel campaigns consumers desire.

4. Forms 360° View of Customers

To show customers the content they prefer in a cross-channel marketing strategy, companies must become familiar with their demographics, habits, and intents. This knowledge gives brands a well-rounded understanding of their market. 
By micro-segmenting customers into small categories, marketers can examine both the general demographics of their users as well as more specific data. This information includes the last time a user launched an app, the frequency of their app visits, their purchase history, and their intent. 
Together, this individualized data allows your brand to grasp on to — and exceed — your customers’ expectations. 

5. Builds a Strong Brand Identity

Since cross-channel marketing communicates a brand’s messages across multiple channels, it builds a recognizable brand identity and the desired public perception of your company. This identity is shaped by tangible elements like your company name, logo, fonts, messaging, and colors, as well as intangible elements like relationships and experiences. 
Businesses are able to analyze consumer data and find a uniform brand identity that attracts their target market. When your brand identity is clear across every channel, consumers develop familiarity with your company’s voice and products. In turn, this positive brand identity can lead to customer loyalty.*

6. Incorporates Smart Technologies

Cross-channel marketing also incorporates the latest smart technology. According to a 2021 survey, 86% of participants reported that AI will become a mainstream technology at their company.*
More businesses are investing in smart technology because AI enhances the customer experience. AI helps predict customer preferences, completely customizes content, and links all communications channels seamlessly. 
By using AI in cross-channel marketing, your brand can stay on the cutting edge of modern technology and offer customers a personalized shopping experience.

How to Build a Cross-Channel Marketing Strategy

When developing a cross-channel marketing strategy, you can’t simply create an app, website, and email campaign and call it a day. Rather, your approach needs to involve several different phases that range from initial strategizing to constant tailoring down the line. 
Here are the eight steps to building an effective cross-channel marketing strategy:

1. Create User Personas

The first step is to create user personas, or representations of your target customers, that help you gain insight into the behavior of your various audiences. You’ll often need to create up to four user personas to reflect a wide range of customers.
Starting with user personas helps everyone in your company understand who your customers are. It also helps determine what kinds of products and messages will be most appealing to your audiences on each channel. 

2. Understand Your Channels 

Once you figure out what your customers want, you’ll need to understand what is necessary for your communications channels and make sure each has its own team. That’s because a one-size-fits-all approach won’t always work across channels.
For example, sending push notifications for loyal app users will require different marketing efforts than onboarding new customers via an email campaign. A solid cross-channel marketing strategy should use an individualized technique for each channel.

3. Use a Customer Data Platform (CDP)

To make analyzing data easier, you’ll want to keep all your information in one place with a customer data platform (CDP). Rather than silo data with different departments, a CDP unifies all customer information under one management system and allows brands to build optimal customer experiences grounded in data. 
Since nearly one-third of marketers report access to data as a challenge when personalizing messaging, a CDP is all the more critical.* It gives marketers access to previously unavailable data, allowing them to craft data-driven, cross-channel campaigns.

4. Improve Underperforming Channels

Chances are, your brand already has existing communications channels. When setting up your cross-channel marketing strategy, you’ll want to analyze each channel individually and figure out how to improve it.
For example, if data shows that your customer onboarding email campaigns are lackluster, focus your initial efforts on enhancing them. If your brand already has a solid social media presence, consider incorporating social ad campaigns to leverage your online visibility. By investing in underperforming channels, your cross-channel strategy can avoid weak spots.

5. Personalize Content

In a survey by Accenture, 91% of consumers reported being more likely to buy from brands that provide personalized offers and recommendations.* A successful cross-channel marketing strategy can help businesses create this desirable, customized content. 
Here are some examples of personalization messages to add to your communications channels:

  • Customer names in email subject lines and text messages
  • Offers tailored to that specific customer’s journey (new customer, loyal customer, etc.)
  • Remarketing reminders about items in their shopping cart or recently viewed products
  • Location-based marketing messages

Modern consumers want customization, so it’s imperative that your cross-channel marketing campaigns feel personal and relevant.

6. Test Your Campaigns

To make sure your cross-channel marketing campaigns meet your goals, you’ll want to conduct A/B testing. This method compares two variations of a campaign to see which is more effective for certain segments of your audience. For example, you might test whether a mobile app tour with two steps is more successful than a tour with five steps. 
When performing A/B tests, it’s helpful to add a randomized, representative control group that has not yet been exposed to your campaign. This control group creates a benchmark that more accurately measures the success of your strategies. 

7. Invest in Customer Support

Today, quality customer support is more important than ever. Microsoft’s 2017 report shows that 96% of respondents said customer service determines their loyalty to a brand, and 90% expect companies to offer an online self-service option.* Given its importance, you should build customer support into your cross-channel marketing strategy.
To provide top-notch service, prioritize both offline and online customer engagement. Employees working in-store can answer questions on the spot, but questions asked on your website or social media may take longer. Your brand can combat this risk by ensuring that support staff is available to answer questions on every channel.

8. Keep Tailoring Your Approach

It’s important to remember that creating a cross-channel marketing strategy is not a one-and-done approach. Your methods can (and should) change to account for your findings over time. When analyzing customer data, you’ll need to keep tailoring your strategy so that users stay engaged across channels. 
If you notice a dip in active users on your app, you’ll need to come up with an effective win-back strategy. This method may include ramping up user personalization, asking for feedback, or sending special offers via email or SMS. The best cross-channel marketing strategies are fine-tuned based on personalized data.

Cross-Channel Marketing Examples

When crafting a cross-channel marketing strategy, it can be helpful to take pointers from other brands’ success stories. Check out how these five companies executed their cross-channel marketing campaigns:

1. Target

Target has provided the ultimate cross-channel shopping experience through its mobile app. Users can make purchases through the app as well as use it in-store to see which items are in stock. 
The app even tracks the user’s location in the store to help them find the products they’re looking for. Customers also have a wallet that holds their coupons and receipts, allowing for paper-free purchases and returns. 
Target’s cross-channel marketing strategy integrates both mobile and in-person shopping channels to provide customers with convenience and personalization. 

2. Starbucks

The Starbucks app is a key aspect of the coffeehouse’s successful cross-channel marketing strategy. When consumers download the app, it activates a trigger campaign that automatically sends messages to users throughout their shopping journey. 
To onboard users, Starbucks sends push notifications with clear explanations of steps they should take. Then, the app encourages them to take advantage of a time-sensitive offer. By scanning the app’s QR code in-store, users will receive personalized rewards for their purchases. 
Starbucks seamlessly combines the mobile and in-store journey, providing app users with a fully integrated cross-channel experience.

3. Duolingo

The language-learning website and mobile app Duolingo reminds users to keep making progress through push notifications sent via email and mobile. After running several tests to figure out the best time for reminders, Duolingo found that sending a notification 23.5 hours after a user’s previous lesson leads to the most conversions.*
In the notifications, Duolingo uses their owl mascot named Duo and begins with a friendly, “Hi, it’s Duo” greeting. The reminder copy ranges from funny to commanding, and efforts to optimize the copy produced a 5% increase in daily active users.
Duolingo takes advantage of push notifications on mobile and email channels to drive conversions on its app and website.

4. Chipotle

In 2019, the restaurant chain Chipotle introduced drive-through “Chipotlanes” that allow customers to pick up orders made online or through the mobile app without getting out of their cars. 
The convenience and safety of Chipotlanes helped the company grow their digital sales by about 174% in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Chipotle combined its mobile and web channels with its in-person restaurant channel to provide a seamless ordering process. 

5. Rebecca Minkoff

The fashion company Rebecca Minkoff uses interactive screens in its stores that allow customers to get more information about products, save items to their online accounts, and complete transactions on their mobile devices.
For customers who cannot find their size in the physical store or want more information before making a purchase, the interactive screens offer a convenient alternative. Within just five to six months, Rebecca Minkoff’s innovative approach produced a six to seven times increase in ready-to-wear sales.*
By incorporating digital screens into its stores, Rebecca Minkoff fills gaps in the in-person experience by combining it with web and mobile channels.

Cross-Channel Marketing: Next Steps

For businesses looking to better use their communications channels, investing in cross-channel marketing may be the right strategy. Integrating multiple channels provides customers with a seamless, personalized experience that can increase customer retention and ROI over time. 
Launching your own cross-channel marketing campaign may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Take advantage of CleverTap’s complete messaging channels suite to keep your customers engaged across mobile, email, web, and more. 

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Last updated on March 29, 2024