Marketing Channel Strategy: The Complete Guide

A marketing channel strategy is a plan to connect to your audience and meet customer needs through various marketing channels.

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Maximize the business impact of your marketing channel strategy with leading industry benchmarks and best practices.

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Execute an improved marketing channel strategy

To achieve growth and capture market share, CMOs must evolve their channel strategies to engage with today’s consumers. Gartner’s Digital IQ Index highlights hundreds of channel marketing data points and metrics to provide inspiration and benchmarks for your strategy. Leverage these insights to:

  1. Measure your performance against leading brands

  2. Apply the best email, social, mobile and website strategies

  3. Learn winning approaches used by competitors

  4. Properly allocate marketing budget and digital spend

Create a marketing channel strategy that makes sense for your business

Marketing leaders need to plan, execute and optimize their marketing channel strategy in an increasingly complex marketing landscape.

Support the end-to-end customer journey

Creating a consistent customer-centric approach across marketing channels, tactics, touchpoints and sales interactions is both increasingly necessary to serve customers effectively, and increasingly complex considering the sheer number of channels with which customers interact.

According to Gartner research, marketing leaders identified orchestrating customer journeys across multiple digital and nondigital channels as their top priority for 2023, but nearly three-fourths (71%) of senior marketers said they struggle to achieve this.

The roadmap to achieving a customer-centric, or “omnichannel,” approach gets more complicated by different terminology marketers use to refer to this challenge and customer needs, such as “multichannel” and “customer journey orchestration.” To cut through this confusion and help your organization choreograph a cohesive omnichannel strategy, focus on three key components:

 

  1. Prioritization. Despite the idea that omnichannel is everything, it is just not possible to do everything for all customers all at once. Instead, in partnership with marketing and other areas of the business, create a plan based on customer needs and experiences and desired business impact and goals.
  2. Tech evaluation. To capture deeper audience insights and engagement, evaluate the current state of your technology and fill in the gaps.
  3. Measure, optimize and iterate as your strategy grows. A key component of testing new ideas, piloting new approaches and executing customer-centric change is developing the ability to measure and track results and progress to goals.

 

Optimize websites for multichannel journeys

Websites remain a vital hub for brands, are an important touchpoint in the customer’s journey and are an ever-evolving tool for digital marketing leaders. According to Gartner research, websites represent the fourth-largest channel as measured by budget allocation in 2021 and held steady in a year when marketers trimmed areas like digital advertising and event marketing. 

Building on that momentum, in 2022, 37% of CMOs Gartner surveyed increased investments in website design/UX from 2021 to 2022. This means websites are reliable in serving acquisition, conversion and retention goals in addition to being a channel for collecting precious first-party customer data.

Today, considering that the pandemic catalyzed digital growth, marketers must meet a wave of net-new customers by delivering more content that helps customers advance in their journeys. Best‑in‑class marketers deliver experiences that foster purposeful time on-site and optimize their sites for multichannel customer journeys by:

  • Designing landing pages for multichannel pathways and aligning them with a broader customer journey orchestration strategy

  • Enriching sites with self-guided problem-solving tools that equip customers to make a complex purchase decision, and streamline simpler tasks

  • Fulfilling increasing needs for first-party data by fostering customer trust and taking a customer-first approach

Deliver best-in-class customer value, tailored help and content

Despite the buzz around new types of media and channels of communication, email marketing remains a cornerstone channel and an important marketing tool. According to a recent Gartner survey, 44% of CMOs say that email marketing is essential to their overall digital marketing strategy, allocating nearly 8% of their entire digital marketing budget to the channel.

Email marketing continues to be among the most efficient marketing channels that leverages personalization, yielding valuable customer insights and first-party data. However, while it is a fundamental touchpoint, it’s rated by digital marketing leaders as one of the least effective channels in driving conversion. Why? Marketers lost their grip on email personalization amid the customer churn and rapidly changing habits of the pandemic. Struggling brands went for quantity over quality and sent generic product email blasts, while leaders continued to activate their customer data and drive segmentation, yielding high engagement.

Email marketing strategies that are effective in buyer journey progression are built on a foundation of:

  1. Benchmarking

  2. Best practices

Benchmarking

Peer and industry benchmarks serve as a critical starting point for marketing teams looking to refresh their email marketing strategy. Digital marketing leaders can no longer afford to compare their email marketing efforts to just a small subset of competitors. Instead, look to leaders inside and outside of your industry to glean insights into how leading brands are engaging and converting audiences with highly targeted email campaigns.

Best practices

Lack of conversion from email marketing is especially concerning because email is widespread and commonly used close to purchase decisions. Yet this dynamic also highlights that the issues limiting the channel’s utility in driving online sales are generally broader in scope than email alone. To realize email’s value, leverage the best practices from top-performing companies such as personalization, trigger and targeting tactics, as well as incorporating technology and multiple channels, to increase email’s impact.

Create mobile experiences that are accessible and help accomplish tasks

Mobile marketing is more than a channel, it is a conduit and connector of marketing engagements (i.e., through social media, email and apps) and a critical piece of your channel strategy. 

There’s no doubt mobile dominates consumer time and mind share — within the U.S. alone, 84% of people use a smartphone regularly. It’s among the top ways to engage with consumers and is cited as one of the most effective ways to achieve marketing’s business objectives. Mobile marketing activities include:

  • Mobile website experience (a mobile web-optimized website)

  • Mobile app

  • SMS messaging

  • In-app notifications

  • Push messages

  • Live and automated chat

  • Mobile analytics

  • QR code integrations

  • Geolocation-based marketing

  • Mobile digital advertising

Customers want mobile experiences that are accessible and help them accomplish tasks. Forty-one percent of consumers say that convenience (being easy to use) is the top reason they download a mobile app. As such, cutting-edge organizations are creating mobile marketing experiences that have moved off of mobile devices to encompass wearables, virtual reality and the Internet of Things (IoT).

 

Respond quickly to shifting customer behaviors and evolving platform functionality

Social media ranks as one of the most effective channels across the consumer journey, particularly in the awareness and demand generation stages. Social is first in brand awareness, conversion, customer loyalty and advocacy. Although digital marketing leaders know the potential of social media for business, they struggle to prove its direct impact. Factors that impact social marketing include:

  • Algorithm changes on social media platforms

  • An increase in consumer engagement

  • Consumers’ rising expectations for authentic, consistent, inspiring or funny content that represents their views and values 

  • Platform advancements that make it easier for consumers to achieve their goals within a purely social environment, such as product discovery, conversation, and purchase and customer support access 

  • The realization that businesses don’t need to be on every social platform; instead, digital marketing leaders must craft a focused social marketing strategy that identifies specific needs that can be met 

It’s imperative to rightsize your social marketing tactics and identify the platforms that best serve your business and customers, as part of a plan to ensure the best support for your channel strategy. 

 

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