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Op-Ed: Why multichannel marketing matters

Author Cristina Santa Maria is marketing manager for Ricoh Puerto Rico.

Direct marketing is a form of advertising for companies and organizations to communicate directly with existing or potential customers through different means, including print advertising, direct mail, brochures and catalogs and digital, mobile and email marketing platforms.

As consumer behavior evolves and extraordinary situations arise such as Hurricane María, the need for more specialized and strategic marketing campaigns also increases. Marketing experts agree that an integrated, cross-media approach with multiple touchpoints generates better results.

Considering the benefits of printed material and digital tools within a marketing strategy, which one has the highest priority? The answer is both.

For example, it was critical for us at Ricoh to have a multichannel strategy to communicate with our customers right after Hurricane María. We had clients who left Puerto Rico or were among the few with access to telecommunications, who were kept informed through digital platforms, social networks and email, but at the same time we had clients with access only to print media and/or the radio.

Having a strategic plan with a multichannel approach allowed us to take the communication directly to our target audience, our customers and potential customers.

Although digital marketing accounts for less than a fifth of advertising spending in the United States, it is growing rapidly. However, consumers prefer different media at different times, so coordinating communications through multiple channels is a growing need.

Key elements to develop a successful multichannel marketing strategy:
1) Have a clear message: Make it easy for your audience to understand your message. Customers shouldn’t have to “read between the lines” and make assumptions to understand what you are trying to communicate. The message has to be clear and tailored for each channel

2) Understand your audience: Ask yourself why would the reader care? Focus on the kinds of messages and content that appeals to them. The more targeted the communication, the better the response will be.

3) Personalize: Consumers are in the driver’s seat and with the increase of competition, it is key to deliver the best experiences. Use your data source to personalize messages for your customers such as: birthdays, births, anniversaries, beauty and service appointments. You can do this through emails, texts and print actions that impact your audience

4) Keep it simple: If you want to drive readers to the web, choose a URL that is easy to remember. When you want them to click on a link, make sure it is prominent and place it on the top of the communication. To make your message easily shared in social media, make sure to include sharing icons for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

5) Offer value: If you are not offering something new for your client to make a decision, your competitor will probably do it. Think carefully about what kind of offers will be most valuable to the reader and your company – discounts, promotions, free samples and gifts.

6) Good communication is about timing: Develop a campaign calendar that allows you to visualize and evaluate the impact of your entire campaign by channel and by date. You also need to evaluate, which timing is the most effective according the selected marketing channel. For example, a post on Facebook about a product launch requires a different strategy than sending a customer a printed postcard on their birthday.

7) Choose channels carefully: Having a multichannel strategy doesn’t mean you have to use all channels available. You have to think about the channels that best resonate with your target in order to get better results.

8) “Call to action:” Each phase of your campaign must have a “call to action” that moves the customer closer to a decision in your favor. Ask yourself: What action do I want you to take after reading this email? Visit my website? Register for an event? Call a sales representative? Make sure your call is clear at the end of each message.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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