It is the hallmark of a digital age that everyone you know has a slew of electronic devices and is active on multiple social networks.  Absolutely everyone is online, and I am not just talking about my mother. Even my neighbor’s dog has his own blog!  There are literally thousands of channels and hundreds of ways to access them.  In my house, we get information via a PC, iPad, iPhone, Kindle, X Box, and more. Soon I expect we will add a smart watch to the mix. To me personally, it can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming, but as a marketer it is a boon in being able to reach more people in more places, via multiple channels.

However, all this complexity makes it difficult for marketers to figure out how to use each channel to our advantage.  How can we offer a consistent customer experience without being repetitive and take advantage of the uniqueness of each medium while making sure they all work together?

In my experience, many marketers approach each channel as an isolated vehicle.  But to be truly effective in multichannel marketing, you need to think of yourself as a conductor of an orchestra, with each media “instrument” bringing something unique to your brand yet blending together to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Getting the Content Right

Just like a great symphony starts with a great score, your multichannel plan must start with a robust content strategy.  What are the different messages you want to deliver to customers and in what vehicles?  For example, in social media we often promote customer stories and content, showing the amazing work of everyone from students to pros and how our products help them t realize their creative vision.   We promote our products in nonconventional ways, like in this hilarious Adobe and the Frog love story.  Of course we tweet an occasional promotion or post an invite to an event, but our primary goal with social is to inspire and engage, not just to sell.

Once a prospect gets to our website, our content strategy shifts and becomes much more product focused.  On Adobe.com, we use lots of quick videos to show off what our products do and encourage trial (and purchase). Finally, when someone becomes a member of our service, we use email and in-product messages to quickly on-board them and drive active use. We heavily leverage our learning content to provide “how to’s” and tips and tricks people need to get started quickly and get value from what they purchased.

Making Beautiful Music

In addition to the right content, you need the right media strategy.  At Adobe we look at the benefits of each channel and how it can help us drive people down the funnel.  It is not just about how each vehicle plays individually, but how they work together.  We have synchronize our media across search, display, email, and social so that a customer who comes to our website and looks at product A will subsequently see different banner ads, responses to search inquires, and customized emails compared with a customer who is looking at product B.   This of course is the ultimate in personalization.

While assembling your own media strategy may seem daunting, as always there are processes and technology that help.  At Adobe we use responsive design to ensure that our customers get a great experience no matter the device they are using. To manage the multitude of content we use a kick-ass content management system (CMS)—shameless plug for our own Adobe Experience Manager—and solutions such as Adobe Target and Media Optimizer to put this content in front of the right people and ensure consistency across different channels.

There is no one size fits all approach to marketing in multiple channels, but having the right content aligned to the right vehicles and taking advantage of the uniqueness of each medium while making sure they all work together is key to making you not just an effective marketer, but a virtuoso.