Have you ever walked into a store, grabbed your desired prod­ucts, and hap­pily handed the cashier the coupon that had incen­tivized you to shop there in the first place—only to be informed that the dis­count is an “online only” pro­mo­tion? This prob­a­bly neg­a­tively impacted your view of the com­pany, as it is easy to feel angry and deceived at this. How­ever, it was prob­a­bly not a decep­tive bait and switch tac­tic to get you into the store; it was more likely a result of poor unity in the company’s mul­ti­chan­nel mar­ket­ing plan.

To avoid con­sumer good­will and brand loy­alty dam­ag­ing mis­takes such as this, your mul­ti­chan­nel mar­ket­ing plan needs to evolve into a cross-channel one.

What Is the Difference?

Many mar­keters assume that “cross-channel” and “mul­ti­chan­nel” mar­ket­ing are sim­i­lar, if not iden­ti­cal in nature. This is a huge mis­take; this line of think­ing is like believ­ing that all rec­tan­gles and squares are the same. Cross-channel mar­ket­ing includes all the com­po­nents of mul­ti­chan­nel mar­ket­ing (using mul­ti­ple plat­forms to com­mu­ni­cate with con­sumers). Cross-channel mar­ket­ing takes things a step fur­ther by ensur­ing that all your chan­nels seam­lessly inte­grate to cre­ate an enhanced mar­ket­ing expe­ri­ence for the cus­tomer. This improved inter­ac­tion greatly improves the consumer’s per­cep­tion of a brand and pre­vents cat­a­stro­phes like the one I just described. Here are a few ques­tions that you should ask to deter­mine if your com­pany is mov­ing in a cross-channel mar­ket­ing direction.

Are You Using the Right Mar­ket­ing Channels?

Dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy has pre­sented us with so many ways to mar­ket that it is easy to feel as though you need to start dump­ing resources into every chan­nel pos­si­ble in order to receive the desired effect. How­ever, this is prob­a­bly not a good idea because your tar­get mar­ket likely inter­acts with a rel­a­tively nar­row set of chan­nels most often. Focus­ing on these chan­nels instead of all of them will enhance your abil­ity to imple­ment a cross-channel mar­ket­ing plan.

Do You Know Your Customers?

When answer­ing this ques­tion, you should think beyond what types of prod­ucts or ser­vices the cus­tomer likes. You will also need to con­sider how they like to receive infor­ma­tion related to those prod­ucts or ser­vices. This will allow you to more eas­ily iden­tify the mar­ket­ing chan­nels that will work best for you.

Is There a Con­sis­tent Mes­sage across All Mar­ket­ing Channels?

Hav­ing mul­ti­ple depart­ments or teams work­ing with dif­fer­ent mar­ket­ing chan­nels can frac­ture the mes­sage that your com­pany is try­ing to con­vey and result in sit­u­a­tions such as the one I described ear­lier. Make sure that your teams/departments are not deliv­er­ing con­flict­ing messages.

Are Your Tech­nol­ogy Solu­tions Work­ing For or Against Each Other?

Although tech­nol­ogy has given us unprece­dented access, it is not always com­pat­i­ble; this can cause con­flicts with cus­tomer inter­ac­tion. Any mes­sages that get mixed up due to con­flict­ing tech­nolo­gies will only serve to con­fuse and frus­trate cus­tomers. Remem­ber that many of them use as many chan­nels as you—if not more.

Answer­ing these ques­tions pos­i­tively means that you are on the right track toward evolv­ing your mul­ti­chan­nel mar­ket­ing plan into a cross-channel one. If not, then now is the time to realign your mar­ket­ing approach.

What about you? We’d love to hear about your imple­men­ta­tion of a cross-channel strat­egy. Do not hes­i­tate to share your views or ask me any ques­tions in the com­ments sec­tion, and I’ll do my best to answer them.