Multichannel Integrated Marketing Best Practices for Retailers

By Jeff Weidauer, jweidauer@vestcom.com

Say what you like about marketers, we never lack for new ways to describe and define what we do. There is shopper marketing, mobile marketing, online marketing, direct marketing, and now integrated marketing and multichannel marketing.



A quick clarification: While the terms integrated and multichannel are sometimes used interchangeably, they are far from synonymous. Multichannel is more tactical and focuses on the media, while integrated speaks to the platform and the desired experience. Combining the two is good marketing.



The interest today by retailers in each of these concepts is a direct result of the growth in media vehicles. Five years ago we were just thinking about using text messages as a way to market to early adopters; today social media outlets have taken over the Web, and for many people social media is the only way to reach them.



Clearly, repurposing a television commercial for use on Facebook is not the answer, although it’s been done more than once. This is where the concepts of integration and multichannel cross over. While dropping a TV ad on Facebook does qualify as multichannel, the ham-handedness of this approach is a direct result of a lack of integration.



Integration, then, is more than just integrated tactics. True integration is an outcome of that other often-overlooked element of good marketing: consumer research. If you don’t know your customers and how they view your brand, then you can’t deliver an effectively integrated message.



True integration comes from making sure that the message is not only relevant to the medium, it’s also relevant to the receiver. Receiver relevance requires a deeper understanding of the target market and includes things like when they are more receptive to messages, and if, and how, they might want to respond.



Let’s go back to that television ad on Facebook. Television is a “push” medium -- it throws things out at the viewer. Facebook is altogether different in that it invites comment and engagement from the viewer, and those are aspects that need to be accounted for in the development of the message, and its intent.



We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in the world of marketing the likes of which we have never seen. Mass media remain part of the overall mix but must be tied to targeted messages delivered via social outlets and mobile to be effective. The relationship changes by medium, and the customer’s expectations along with it.



Here are some best practices for retailers for effective marketing that includes both integration and multichannel:


  • Relevance. Relevance is always critical. If the message isn’t relevant to the target and the delivering medium, then it’s best not to bother with it to begin with.
  • Receptivity. Make sure your target wants to receive your message via the medium you are using, and from you.
  • Response. Are you looking for a response? Are you ready to follow up and respond in kind, in a one-to-one manner?
  • Data. The common, but not necessarily obvious denominator in each of these best practices is data, i.e. information and insights about the customer that help to define the message.

Shoppers are doing more research than ever prior to making a shopping trip. Even the weekly stock-up trip to the supermarket and the quick fill-in at the corner drug or convenience store are prefaced with some level of online research, including opinions about stores and products. Shoppers are talking and learning about us, and we as retailers need to be learning everything we can about our shoppers, and engaging in the conversation.

Best practices for effective marketing must incorporate data and analytics because the old “spray and pray” tactics are less effective than ever. And with today’s focus on delivering a valid return on investment for the marketing spend targeted and measurable tactics are a must.

Jeff Weidauer is VP of marketing and strategy for Vestcom International Inc., a Little Rock, Ark.-based provider of integrated shopper marketing solutions. He can be reached at jweidauer@vestcom.com, or visit vestcom.com.

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