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Digital Matters Blog /post/57605054503/a-guide-to-successf ul-cross-platf orm-marketing

Companies like Shop Direct began a trend last year of aligning their catalogue printing with their online business through interactive engagement across different platforms. For example, in April 2012, one of Shop Direct´s magaz ines introduced a very original feature: readers could watch a video of an interior designer introducing different design items when pointing their mobile devices at an image of the designer. Since then, many catalogues and magaz ines all over the world have continued to introduce original features aimed at connecting online and offline marketing strategies. One of the most successful examples of cross- platform integration is Canada´s leading newspaper The Globe. At a time when newspapers were losing readers to the web and online platforms, The Globe rapidly adapted to this changing scene, using information collected from their print edition´s users to successfully leverage an intelligent mix of marketing channels. The result was a multiplatform brand experience that was greatly appreciated by both online and offline readers and dramatically increased sales across all platforms, establishing The Globe as an unquestioned leader in the modern era of interactive information.

Integrating Online and Of f line Marketing through Cross-Platf orm Engagement While experiences like The Globe´s, Shop Direct´s, and many others prove that cross- platform marketing may be the key to success in our interactive age, many companies are still not integrating their marketing efforts across different platforms. Any advertising campaign must be tailored with all the possibilities of its medium in mind. Today, the medium is everywhere, it has no limits, and anyone who is not taking advantage of all the possibilities of online and offline advertising is losing the greatest marketing opportunity of our time. A great example of consistent messaging through iPhone apps, in- store events, TV ads, and a variety of channels, LCBO’s “Deflate the Elephant” campaign to raise awareness about drinking and driving came up with creative ways to integrate messages through very different mediums, with enormous success.

Each business is different. For some, print catalogues are essential, while others do not need them at all. Street banners offer excellent conversion for some fashion items, while software and apps can benefit much more from targeted advertising for mobile devices. The challenge today is to understand how each medium can benefit a specific product, even when it is not the medium that first comes to mind when designing a campaign for it.

T he Keys of Cross-Platf orm Integration There are many ways to integrate cross- platform marketing efforts, to introduce efficient calls to action, generate leads and ensure successful conversion. 1.Feedback and Quick Response

The marketing experts of the past had very few ways of knowing what customers were thinking and how a company ´s products were being received. Today, websites, social networks, and mobile apps offer many possibilities for customers to give instant feedback about items or services they have purchased. A good example of crossplatform integration is including QR codes and Snaptags that direct to online feedback sections on print ads. Likewise, positive feedbacks can be reproduced through a variety of platforms. In terms of displaying customer feedbacks, users greatly appreciate reliability. For example, a company that allows feedbacks to go live on their website in real time, even when they are not positive, has the chance to develop a higher level of trust than another one that carefully monitors feedbacks. When it comes to feedbacks, it is also important to respond quickly to issues addressed by customers in their comments. Consumers also appreciate companies that offer a quick response to different problems. On the other hand, feedback can also be used to understand how marketing campaigns are working, and a quick response is also important in this case. For example, feedback forms that ask customers where they first heard of the product can be of great help to measure campaign conversion rates. 2.Target ing In the past, marketing was all about identifying the audience, today, it is all about knowing how the audience behaves. Knowing what a company´s average customer searches for online and what they follow on Twitter and Facebook is very important for marketing campaign design. An understanding of the audience´s preferences and interests can not only help design online campaigns, but it can also help tailor print materials, such as catalogues and magaz ine ads, and other types of offline marketing. While most companies are well- versed in web analytics, many of them are starting to use more and more qualitative methods, which, in conjunction with numeric data, can help better understand the user journey, in order to make every interaction with the company easier. Companies are currently trying to take qualitative insights and transform them into actionable data points. As mobile devices keep changing the way users interact with marketing elements, targeted advertising is becoming more relevant each day. According to the June 2013 Reducing Customer Struggle report by IBM Tealeaf, information from customer emails (43%), customer service phone calls (45%), online feedback (35%), usability/heatmaps (40%), and user session replay (57%) are considered to be the most effective and profitable methods to obtain valuable information about the user´s online experience. 3. Mast ering Online/Of f line Cross- Promot ion

Ideally, online resources should be used to bring people to a company´s print items, and a call- to- action that brings them to the company website or a sales page must be included in print materials. Printed brochures that point to an online promotion and online campaigns that prompt users to enter their address to receive free samples and brochures are good examples of successful integration. At Digital Cream London 2013, experts identified many problems of cross- channel marketing integration. In fact, according to eConsultancy’s last Cross- Channel Marketing Report, only 32% of companies rated themselves as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ at driving cross- platform/cross- channel campaigns. Survey respondents also revealed that the channels most easily integrated were email marketing and web platforms. This means that true cross- platform, integrated online/offline engagement is still far behind, even for some of the companies with the most advanced marketing departments.

How top companies view their marketing channel priorities Graph According to this graph, website, email, and social media marketing are marketers` top priorities.

4. Social Media Int egrat ion Social media sites and apps offer countless possibilities for campaign integration. The budget spent on brochure printing can be maximiz ed by the inclusion of links and prompts to access different promotions via social media, thus getting new “online fans” for a company or product, through an offline strategy. One of the keys of successful integration between social media and print marketing has to do with communication between the teams handling each type of marketing. The people working on print campaigns should be working together with social media teams to create cohesive campaigns that present a unified appearance to the public. The aim of this integration should be to provide an engaging and entertaining interactive campaign that keeps users interested throughout all the different channels. Social media sites are also a prime source of information to help determine whether a print campaign has been successful or not. Comments, feedback forms, messages, likes, and follows can help companies quickly assess the reach of their print campaigns, for example, at the time of launching a new catalogue or running a new print ad. While integrating social media and print is a must, the shape this integration takes is also important. For example, a URL can be hard to remember, and it is important to keep social media web addresses short and clean, to ensure conversion. Printing the “F” icon for Facebook followed by a customiz ed Facebook page address is a very popular way of keeping social media URLs clean when printing them on catalogues, magaz ine ads or brochures. 5. Personaliz at ion While users are sometimes reluctant to sign up to new websites, they greatly appreciate it when the sites remember their preferences. For example, someone who owns a certain model of a Mac Pro laptop and is looking for parts and accessories, can greatly appreciate a site’s ability to remember what model he or she has, in order to establish compatibility. Likewise, parents who have a 10- year old kid would be pleased to receive only suggestions for books or games that are age- appropriate, instead of having to scroll through listings of products that do not interest them. A great way of personaliz ing the user experience is creating PURLs or personaliz ed URLs. Users appreciate the time it saves to have content tailored specifically for them, and PURLs can be a great way to keep them engaged. Including a call- to- action to create a personal URL on the company site on printed materials can be a great way of integrating personaliz ed online marketing with print marketing, while also adding a touch of personaliz ation to the latter.

In conclusion, companies are faced with the challenge of telling a transmedia story that can engage users and convert sales whatever the initial contact medium or platform may have been. Integration between online and offline marketing strategies is key, and it involves changing the ways marketing departments have worked till today. Qualitative and quantitative data about user behaviors and actions can be a great tool to help companies design more effective cross- platform marketing campaigns. While online advertising rules in the marketing landscape of today, companies that master cross- platform integration can achieve results that are virtually impossible without it.

Image Credit - Jason Howie

About the author Writer and film producer born in Uruguay. Veronica holds an MA in Creative Writing and a Marketing Diploma. She has a travel blog at The Wander Life and she is the head of NĂŠktar Films.

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