An Introduction to Mastering Multi-Channel Funnels

Marketing Theory Digital Strategy Article
20 mins

Digital marketers are moving away from trying to sell to customers through single channels. Gone are the days when we would typically acquire, cultivate and convert leads using one platform alone (e.g. Facebook, or an email marketing sequence); the new industry standard is to use a multi-channel funnel that targets individuals based on their stage in the customer journey and personal data.

We’ve put together this article to summarise the most important points you need to take on-board to master multi-channel funnel marketing.

The Single Customer View (SCV)

Multi-channel marketing as we know it would not be possible without the Single Customer View (SCV).

Achieving a Single Customer View requires all of a customer’s interactions with your brand to be brought together. This is usually achieved by matching name, address and date of birth, and applying a unique customer identifier (often described as a customer PIN) to each that customers record in your database system.

This identifier can then be used to pull together every item of data relating to that customer – allowing all data on the individual to be matched and brought together to create a single view or record of that customer and it is this end goal that gives this way of recording customer activity its name. The Single Customer View.

One of the big challenges with achieving a single customer view is that customer details and circumstances are constantly changing, so the data itself never remains static. The answer to any question will always be anchored to a particular point in time. so for example, if you were to ask ” How many people are receiving our mailed out newsletter you would need to specify a time frame because over the thousands records the number will, of course, change depending on what criteria you set for inclusion on your mailing list. However, the one constant will be the PIN which will mean new and updated data will be attributed to that customer’s profile as it is gathered.

Additional data and lifestyle segmentation can be applied to an organisation’s Single Customer View records, building deeper and broader insights into the customer’s lifestyle, behaviours and preferences. A Single Customer View can provide you with a far greater insight into your customers and can help you get to know them better. You can also market more efficiently and effectively, but perhaps the biggest advantage it provides is that it can facilitate more useful, relevant and enjoyable experiences for a brands customers.

An SCV is a view that shows data on a business’ interactions with a customer from multiple channels, all within the same interface. So, in your single customer view, you could click on a customer’s name and see information on how that customer has been targeted by your marketing across Facebook, Display Ads, email marketing, and so on. You could also get a view on how your marketing segmented that customers record at different stages of the customer’s journey and take steps to optimise that segmentation to make it more relevant and more personal.

Through looking at our past interactions with customers and the outcomes these interactions drove, we can plan our next marketing actions with a higher probability of success than ever before. An effective and up to date SCV is the most important cog in the mechanism that allows us to build out effective marketing.

Some companies create SCV systems in-house; others out-source the task to agencies. Either way, there’s no easy way to execute an effective multi-channel marketing programme without a good SCV.

Sales funnels and the customer journey

The basic principle behind sales funnels and the customer journey is that a customer goes through various stages from first encountering the brand to making a purchase – something along these lines:

  • Browsing/vague interest
  • Active interest/searching for suitable product
  • Point-of-purchase
  • Ongoing customer loyalty (after purchase has been made)

Different approaches to marketing and content will naturally be of varying appeal and suitability according to the customer’s position in the funnel. Multi-channel marketing using a single customer view is the best method yet devised for matching your marketing to the customer’s position.

Taking a multi-channel marketing approach enables organisations to look at how different marketing channels interact with and impact on the success of each of the sales funnel stages. Some channels, for example, display advertising or Social  Channel Activity,  can be particularly good at influencing positive outcomes during the early stages of the sales funnel where potential customers are casually browsing but need a stimulus to move to the next stage of active interest. Search engine marketing activity, in particular, Adwords, is a very effective medium for driving customers with an active interest in your products through to the point of purchase stage because search phrases that you can bid on often indicate a customers purchase intent.

The aim of an effective overall marketing strategy has to be focused on multiple points of your sale funnel. You need to widen the top of your funnel to let more customers into your active interest-related content and marketing. At the same time, you need to monitor performance to ensure that a significant number of those early interest signals translate into hot to trot point of purchase conversions.

Further reading: What is Strategic Positioning in Digital Marketing? – Target Internet

Interplay between marketing channels

We’re all familiar with the idea of series of marketing events that interact with each other to construct a wider effect or meaning. Think of multi-part TV adverts, email sequences, and so on.

One of the key points to mastering multi-channel funnels will be finding ways to make marketing events interact and combine across multiple channels. Burger King’s ‘Okay Google’ ad from earlier this year is a fine example of innovation in this field although as it panned out the technology they were taking advantage of was quickly turned against them in a rather humorous turn of events as this news report shows.

Measurement Of multi-channel Funnels

When it comes to measurement, Multi channel marketing can cause some challenges. Default reports in Google analytics typically work on last click attribution, meaning only the interactions from channels immediately before the conversion took place will be the ones that get the credit in the default reports. However, there are more advanced measurements that can be set up as this video from Google Analytics explains.

The analogy Google use of the basketball team is a really good one to apply when thinking of a multi-channel funnel strategy. If you are not yet making use of Multi-channel funnel reports in Google Analytics you really could be missing out on a lot of opportunities. Without this view of your customer website activity, it’s very easy to miss out on important customer stages happening earlier on in your customer’s journey to conversion.  We are big fans of these reports at Target Internet. They really can transform how you view your customer’s journeys.

The points we’ve covered in this article only just scratch the surface of multi-channel funnels. However, if you do plenty of study in these areas you will be well prepared to master this exciting new approach to digital marketing. Good luck!

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