As a marketing manager, overseeing all of your marketing efforts can often feel like you’re spinning lots of plates at 100 miles per hour. Because of this, it’s really important that you ‘sweat’ all of your assets and take advantage of multiple digital channels to further the reach of everything you do. Utilising several digital platforms will efficiently maximise your investment with one single strategy to help you keep organised, ensure your activity is integrated as one, and aligns perfectly to your main objective or KPI to ensure return on your investment on this multi channel strategy.
Before you think about how you’re going to execute a multi-channel digital strategy, you need to know what platforms are at your fingertips. It’s a good idea to break this down into channels across owned, earned and paid so you know the efforts involved to utilise each one.
Here are the digital channels you need to consider:
Not all of these will be suitable depending on resources, budget and your overall marketing objectives, but it allows you to pinpoint important channels that aren't being used to their full potential across your digital strategy.
Let's take an example:
If your objective was ‘brand awareness and engagement’, you could focus on channels like so - your website content and blog (owned channels) can attract non-brand traffic, by creating informational content to increase engagement and generate awareness.
It would be a good idea to use all of the earned channels to help get your brand name reach, in other publications in your niche and across news outlets if appropriate.
Using paid social, display advertising and brand ambassadors/influencers helps to guarantee you are in front of your key audiences for awareness and engagement.
Once you’ve thought about your objectives and what channels best help to deliver this, it’s vitally important you conduct content research from a channel perspective. Knowing what types of content and themes are working well will help to inform your ideation process and allow you to start to think about what the overall strategy will look like.
From an owned perspective, it’s key you look at your commercial competitors but also your organic content competitors - without forgetting to conduct both commercial and informational keyword research. The content explorer tool housed within Ahrefs is a great place to start. You can scrutinise the data to align with your objective, including by traffic, referring domains and social media shares.
Understanding the best social channels to target your audience is also key. For B2C, Facebook and Instagram are usually very popular and for B2B, you may find that LinkedIn receives more engagement. Once you’ve identified the best platforms, really investigate what type of content and what topics are receiving attention.
Once you’ve done this, don’t stop there. Think about what time you should be posting in order to receive maximum engagement, without having to post every five minutes. By creating a streamlined strategy for your social channels, you’ll have your content planned and you can even use tools such as Hootsuite to automate your posts.
When you’re thinking about utilising off-page as a digital channel for your marketing strategy, a good approach is to prospect for places where your audiences 'hang out' online. Their digital watering-holes are ideal places to get your content/brand name seen by a new audience. It's also important that you look for sites that, if you’re looking to build authority via links, would contribute some valuable and relevant equity into your site. Tools such as Hitwise and Majestic will give you metrics and insight into making the right decisions for placing content off-page. Once you have prospected for the places you’d want to use, it’s important to then analyse what types of content they are using the most. Visual data and video content is increasingly popular for off-page channels.
Now you’re equipped with the channels you can utilise, and the research behind what does and doesn’t work, a brainstorming session should be conducted to flesh out the avenues you want to explore in your content/campaigns. For a multi-channel strategy, you need to think beyond ideas and instead think of angles, content types, and how you can use the larger content pieces across platforms to ensure maximum ROI for your investment.
A validation checklist like this one is a great way to ensure your ideas and content types align to your objectives and helps to maintain efficiencies when budgets and timescales are limited.
This stage is the most important when setting your multi-digital strategy. Identifying what you can create that serves many channels and what you can create that will need to be repurposed into something slightly different to sit on the desired channel.
As an example, a short 30 second explainer video is often great to sit on-page to help your audience with their pain-points and improve engagement across the site. This is also great for organic and paid social. These types of assets are undeniably valuable as they are often evergreen - meaning they have longevity and don’t need to be constantly updated - and they can be created and posted without having to create something else to accompany it.
Another way of doing this is by creating an asset such as a survey report - you can see our own State of Content Marketing, as an example of this - which is great for on-page and, as long as what’s in it is insightful and unique, can often be gated on-site, to gain leads. This will act as your main asset. You can then plan in press releases, and blogs on interesting angles, using the data from the report to place off-page. It requires a bit more work, as you’ll be repurposing content, but it gives a fresh spin on the content and will work much better for the desired channel.
From here you could then repurpose the data within the report to social posts. If you don't have an in-house design team, you could use a tool like Canva that lets you create designs that can be utilised across many social platforms. It can offer pre-designed, but customisable, assets that allow you to quickly and easily repurpose many of your assets. Think about using data cards, or perhaps a larger infographic, across LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, based on what your audience will engage with.
This is the stage where you really work out how you’re going to sweat all of those assets you’ve been researching and creating. As a starting point, it’s a good idea to create a marketing calendar with each of your defined channels down one side, and the months of the year across the top. If you’re intending on having one main asset that you’ll repurpose across channels, plan this in first, as it will help you understand where you need to create supporting assets and when that should be done.
From here, plan in the assets that you intend to use across multiple channels, and set the cadence in which it should be pushed out so that you can manage timescales efficiently and hit the right channel at the right time.
When it comes to multi-channel digital strategies, it’s crucial that you are taking the time to sit back and review your efforts. While it takes some time to analyse results when you’re managing lots of channels, it’s imperative to help inform your future strategies. Not everything is going to work in the beginning and the places to pay close attention to is the channels that are costing you paid budget. Continue to adapt and reiterate your strategies to find the sweet spot and be agile when your objectives change or evolve.
Measurement is always an issue that comes up time and time again on our annual surveys - and depending on your objectives you'll have a different stick to measure by.
It won't do to have several objectives, as one strategy is never going to be able to achieve everything - it is better to be specific about what you ultimately want to achieve with your multi-channel strategy, and so when it comes to examining how the strategy/campaign has performed it will be much easier.
You can start by looking at our list of 40 KPI's to get you started, when you're thinking about what measures will support your ultimate goal.
Let's go back to our earlier example, where the goal was 'brand awareness and engagement’ - you might measure by the following KPI's. For your Owned channels (on-site blog and informational content) you'd consider monitoring your non-brand traffic, and site engagement metrics.
For any Earned channels, you would keep an eye on your number of brand mentions, the number and DA metrics of links you acquire, the reach and impressions of those placements, if you can.
And when it comes to using paid social, display advertising and PPC, you'll be spoiled for choice when it comes to measurement. Social platforms will monitor impressions and engagement, and Google Adwords will provide an in-detail breakdown of campaign performance. If you're using influencers, you might also monitor their social engagement, and reach of their posts.
While it takes initial time investment to outline a multi-channel digital strategy, it gives you an output that is fed by data which isn’t half-baked or based on assumptions and will therefore give you more fruitful results from those hard-working assets!
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