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Three Reasons You Need a Cross-Channel Marketing Strategy

March 24, 2015 Digital Media Solutions

Multi-Screen Viewing EnvironmentYou hear the buzzword-laden credo all the time: “Holistic cross-channel marketing in today’s fragmented digital marketplace is the ultimate way to increase marketing dollar effectiveness, decrease wasteful advertising spend and boost prospects conversion rates.” While many folks pay this lip service, recent surveys indicate that only 35 percent of marketers believe they devoted enough effort to drive cross-channel engagement in 2014. And in a separate survey, only half of all marketers said they understand cross-channel marketing well enough to make a decision about whether it should be a high priority or not.

It’s time for marketers and brands to wake up. Cross-channel marketing (sometimes referred to as omni-channel marketing) is a necessary response to how consumers actually use media.

In our own little Declaration of Marketing Independence, we hold these truths to be self-evident:

1. 90 percent of consumers move between devices and screens to accomplish a goal.

A 2012 study by Google [PDF] shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the world we live in is a highly fragmented digital marketplace with people utilizing a delightful cornucopia of devices and screens to accomplish a single task. Taken together with other recent research, here’s what a snapshot of typical consumer behavior looks like:

2. Every channel contributes to the total effective frequency needed to get a consumer to convert.

Think of it like this: somewhere out there is a mystical number of brand exposures that are required for a conversion to happen. Because most consumers do not exist in a vacuum, those exposures can happen across a variety of channels and devices. This is excellent for marketers, because it decreases competition for a small number of ad placements as new channels and opportunities arise. For example, here’s a few of the differences in per-channel ideal frequencies:

  • Email: A 2013 study by MailChimp determined two to three sends are optimal for email user engagement after discovering a substantial decrease in click-through rate as sends increased.
  • Desktop display: The ideal frequency, based on Sparkroom internal data and supported by research from and comScore, varies depending on campaign and context but is likely to be three to six exposures.
  • Mobile display: A study published in Digital Marketing Magazine of 50 mobile-based campaigns across the UK, Ireland, Canada, US and Australia found that a frequency of 15 to 25 generated the highest level of desired response. Data suggested that modest ad sizes via mobile required greater frequency to equal the impact of larger ad formats typically seen in desktop settings.
  • Online video: According to a 2014 study of online video formats and frequency, four to nine views achieves optimal uplifts across the purchase funnel.
  • Paid search: Reviewing data from Sparkroom school partner campaigns, it takes on average two and one quarter ad impressions to achieve an inquiry
  • Retargeting: Now a common practice employed across many different platforms, retargeting or remarketing has been shown to be effective in convincing non-converted site visitors to complete purchases. According to a study published on, retargeting is most effective when consumers see ads 15 to 20 times during a period of 30 days. This is of course variable based on product, audience and creative.

3. Cross-channel consistency is a necessity for the current consumer purchase funnel.

Although ideal frequency can be spread across multiple channels, it’s also essential to maintain a presence on channels that are frequently utilized by your consumers. If you’re not owning your spot, other non-brand-owned sources may supplant your position – something that happens often in both search and social settings. A study by McKinsey & Company highlights three types of consistency required to achieve optimal customer satisfaction:

  • Customer-journey consistency: From initial brand awareness through the entire sales funnel and into the service and retention process, it’s essential to deliver a uniform message and experience at every stage.
  • Emotional consistency: This necessitates building a feeling of trust and maintaining it at every touch point.
  • Communication consistency: And this is what we’re typically talking about in marketing. Delivering a consistent message across every communication is the best way to ensure your target audience understands and believes in your brand’s value propositions.

I doubt this information comes as a surprise to any marketing professional. In fact, I would imagine the opinion that viewing only a single channel at a time is the proper way to do things is actually a rather antiquated stance. But I suppose the real question is, even though marketers may pay lip service to the ideal of multi-channel marketing, have most of them really internalized how much of a seismic shift it will require in how one thinks about constructing and measuring campaigns? Simply acknowledging the need does not deliver results. Marketers need to pull the resources together and jump out of the airplane. And to those who delay, don’t be surprised if the marketing performance of your competitors surpasses your own.

About the Author

Digital Media Solutions

Founded by a team of lifelong athletes, Digital Media Solutions (DMS), the fastest-growing independent digital performance marketing company. The company’s set of proprietary assets and capabilities in the world of performance marketing and marketing technology allow clients to meticulously target and acquire the right customers. DMS relentlessly pursues flawless execution for top brands within highly complex and competitive industries including mortgage, education, insurance, consumer brands, careers and automotive.

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