“Cross platform marketing” is a fancy way of saying, “Put your (marketing) eggs into several baskets,” a.k.a. “use multiple ways to put the word out about your product or service.” That means getting your message across not only through a variety of print and television channels – if you can afford it, that is – but also through a variety of online channels, including websites and social media, and via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
How important is it for your marketing and communications efforts to be effective across platforms? Critically important. Does it have to be really expensive? No, although it does take some time and ongoing effort to set up and maintain.
As noted in a previous Smart Marketing post, mobile and online browsing and shopping is trending up on every continent – which definitely includes all of your existing and potential customers. The next time someone looks for a product or service similar to yours, it might be through an online search, or from seeing a link on someone else’s Twitter feed; and all of this might be done on a smartphone. If your message isn’t reaching your target consumers through the channels they’re currently using, and your competitors’ is, you’re losing valuable ground in these challenging economic times.
But how do you know your cross platform marketing message is working?
1. Choose your platforms
Quality trumps quantity. Let’s say you know from experience that mailing out coupons just before Christmas, and handing out flyers at certain trade events, generates great ROI for your business – but how many of your target customers use email or browse online regularly, and which social media platforms are they using? Knowing where your customers are is a prerequisite to reaching them with your offers and messages, and in the rush to get into the cross-platform game, some businesses invest their hard-earned marketing spend without due diligence or strategy. There’s little point in jumping on the Twitter bandwagon if most of your customers/potential customers aren’t on it, and having a great looking, functional website isn’t the greatest investment if your existing marketing barely mentions that you have one.
The take home? Conduct customer surveys incentivised with giveaways, to get some basic answers on who your customers are, and on which platforms they’re spending their time. Based on the results, pick two or three platforms to start building your cross-platform marketing outreach, and grow from there: Include your website in your print coupon ads so customers can check out your business on their own time; ask for customers’ email addresses during in-store promotions, and build an e-marketing list; include social media “Share” buttons on your website and provide your Facebook URL or Twitter handle in your messaging, to encourage customer engagement and to get them to help you promote your business. Some marketing companies provide multi-touch, cross-platform plan options, and some online marketing communications services, such as HootSuite, let you easily share your message across several platforms at the same time.
2. Diversify your messaging
Repetition works, which is partly the point of cross platform marketing; but using the exact same message across all platforms is not as effective as customizing it to fit the medium, and the specific target consumer. An example is Arctic Home, a cross-platform marketing initiative from Coca Cola and the World Wildlife Fund (read a summary of it here) – which uses different platforms to engage different target demographic groups in an integrated marketing campaign. You may already know that simply transferring the text and images from your print collateral onto web pages doesn’t make a great website, but you still may not realize that you can alter your message slightly – it’s the difference between using “Buy it today” in your print ads for a more mature consumer, and “Check it out” on your Facebook page for your younger consumers – to make your cross platform marketing more effective.
3. Test your technologies
How does your website or application look on a smartphone , a tablet, or in a different web browser? Unless it’s mobile ready, or is built to dynamically resize (i.e. display correctly) and function correctly on the wide variety of browsers, devices and operating system versions people are using now, your business is losing out; your web pages may be “cut off” or may look stretched/out of shape, and some of the navigation or functions may not work at all. On a smaller viewing area such as a smartphone screen, unless your website is mobile ready or you have a mobile version of your site/application, it’s not easy for potential customers to browse and buy. Your online ads need to have the right specifications for the available ad space, or they won’t display correctly – and standard online ad sizes differ from standard print ad sizes.
What can you do? Ensure that the company building/hosting your website or application has built and tested the site for cross-platform compatibility, and that even if your ad message is similar, that your graphic designer creates the design in a variety of sizes. Doing everything yourself? There are dynamic website templates you can purchase that have resizing capability built in and that are backwards compatible (they will work with older operating systems and software), and most ad buying services provide the file type and other specifications needed for your ad, so you can create it with your graphic design software.
Seems like a lot of work? You have options: hire a marketing firm to handle some, or all, aspects of your cross platform outreach; or use a service that has built in cross platform marketing capability, like Global Coupon. Businesses can sign up any time for free as a business consumer, to explore the available coupon offers on both B2C and B2B products and services.
Want to post your own online coupon offers for a fraction of a print and video advertising spend, as well as in the near future bid on prime online ad spots and placement in e-marketing blasts – then track it all through analytics, all from the same website? Sign up as a business member for as low as $100/month based on geographical and population reach, and let Global Coupon – your mobile-ready, cross-platform marketing and branding tool – do the heavy lifting for you.