Multichannel Marketing A How-To Guide to Growing Past EmailAs a marketer, you\’ve likely grown accustomed to reaching your target audience through one familiar channel, but in today\’s digital marketing landscape, a multichannel approach can take your campaigns to a whole new level, opening up new possibilities along the way.  Adding additional channels to your campaigns may mean straying from your comfort zone, but the rewards for your brand are well worth the additional effort.

Growing beyond a single channel marketing strategy isn\’t as complex as you may think, as most of the key concepts remain the same.  Adding additional channels simply extends your reach to make sure you\’re connecting to your audience through the channels they use most.  If you\’ve been focused on email marketing as a primary channel, for example, extending your message via social media and SMS may mean reaching an entirely new audience or demographic.  While the underlying message and call-to-action of your campaign remains the same, extending into additional channels means more people see and interact with your brand, increasing overall reach, leads, and sales in the process.

Let\’s take a look at how your brand can extend its reach from a single channel email strategy into a multichannel email, SMS, and social media strategy quickly and effectively.

If you have already been using email marketing, you\’ve likely grown a large database of opt-in users that can be used as a foundation to build an SMS database.  Ask users to opt-in to SMS messaging on the emails you are sending to your list and place an SMS form where people sign up for your email list on the Web.  It is often helpful to give your audience a reason for signing up an additional communication pathway, such as special promotions or content not available through email alone.

In terms of extending your reach to social media, it\’s a matter of creating a presence for your brand on as many relevant social media channels as possible.    Extending your email subscriber list to your brand\’s social media accounts should be your first step.  You\’ve already built up a solid database of email addresses; now it\’s time to turn those contacts into Twitter followers and Facebook friends.

First, take your email subscriber list and save it in a CSV (Comma Separated File) format.  Set up a new Gmail or Yahoo email account, go the contacts section, and import the CSV file into your address book.  Next, go to your brand\’s Twitter page and choose \”Find People.\”   Click on \”Find Friends,\” select the email provider you just opened an account with, and log in.  Twitter will then search the email addresses of its users and present you with a list of those that match.  Click on the \”Follow All\” button and your Twitter account will start following all the subscribers in your list who have a Twitter account.  As those you follow begin reciprocating, your brand\’s Twitter account will begin to amass the same following as your email list.  The same exact process can be done on Facebook to grow your friends list as well.

In creating a Facebook strategy, you should also set up both a fan page and a group for your brand.  Both offer different advantages and work well at creating a community around your organization.  Unlike groups, fan pages are visible by unregistered users, and therefore are indexed in search engines.  This is important for overall visibility and things like reputation management.  Unlike fan pages, however, groups allow the distinct advantage of bulk invites, meaning any member of your brand\’s Facebook group can also send invites to their friends as well.  This is great for viral marketing and can expand your exposure exponentially.  Make sure to place a link to your social media pages on your web properties right along with your SMS sign-up forms that we discussed before.

Once in place, the key to using all combined channels effectively is to coordinate your messages to complement one another, while maintaining your overall message and favored call-to-action.  For example, email marketing allows you to dispatch a long-form sales message or update to a broad range of contacts, allowing for the most content of all three channels.  While the bulk of your communication can be contained in your email campaign, a truncated version or highly relevant and targeted offer can be sent to your mobile database via SMS that complements your primary email campaign.  Referencing the same messages being sent out via email and SMS on your social media channels spreads your message even further to an audience you don\’t have to rely on opt-in processes to reach.

Growing from a single channel strategy to a multichannel approach may take some initial setup and coordination, but the end result is a highly targeted and broad-based marketing campaign that reaches customers and prospects on levels never before available by utilizing a single channel.  Your current and potential customers are already using social media and SMS to their advantage. Taking a multichannel approach on your end allows your brand to take full advantage as well.