Multichannel marketing works.
In fact, one of the best and safest ways to get more from your marketing dollars, is to invest in multiple channels (as long as you’re able to spend a meaningful amount of resource on each channel, of course).
Analytic Partners looked at over 2000 campaigns and found that ROI increases with every additional platform added to a campaign.
But of course, it’s not as simple as that. And it’s not just selecting the right channels, it’s also about understanding the right channels.
In fact, it doesn’t necessarily have to just be about paying your way in and your ad media spend.
Making paid work harder
One of my favourite marketing campaigns is Nike’s “Dream Crazy” with Colin Kaepernick, celebrating 30 years’ of the Just Do It slogan.
It was purpose driven, it was bold, it was integrated, thought-through and targeted to a specific audience. And yes, it had lots of paid media spend behind it. But it also started with a single Tweet.
A single Tweet that existed and drove earned PR for a full news cycle before the TV spots, billboards and other paid channels kicked in. That’s right: One of the biggest integrated marketing and communications campaigns in recent years – with plenty of media budget behind it – launched with a single asset of a black and white Tweet with some great copy.
And the impact was both felt on immediate sales and with the stock price performing better than that of its peers in the ensuing two years.
But some great and ‘viral’ campaigns also start with paid placements. Sometimes even with (gasp) non-digital channels.
KFC’s FCK bucket after a logistics mess-up left most of their stores in the UK without any chicken was a masterstroke in crisis communications. And while it had a paid ad – that ad was a full-page print ad and apology in two UK newspapers. But the pictures of that ad spread across social and news media all over the world.
These aren’t just standalone or fluke examples of a couple campaigns that started on one channel only to spread and take on a life of its own on multiple channels. The analysis of nearly 1000 case studies in The Long and The Short of It and Media in Focus: Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era, the data shows the effects of adding Owned and Earned channels to your paid activations.
With the ‘why’ of multi-channel marketing, let’s think about the ‘how’ – and the practical steps for it.
Understanding the Earned of News and Social Media
Whether social or news media, earned should never be approached as a bolt-on channel. When adding channels to increase marketing effectiveness, we need to understand how they each work together, and create something that’s worth your audience talking about and sharing themselves.
So here are three concrete ‘how-to’ steps on to better understand news and social media channels, to inform campaigns that earn shares and mentions.
1. Start with audience’s channel(s)
Ultimately, we want our campaigns to exist where our audiences are and talk. Starting channel agnostic, and focusing on where the topic is being discussed – and where it’s perhaps over-indexing compared to other channels – is one of the first things we want to understand.
Once this is identified, it also means we can focus the qualitative analysis (what they talk about, how, sentiment drivers, etc.) on the channels that actually matter. This can both be at a platform level, such as Reddit vs. Facebook – or, when looking at news media, a publication level, e.g. business titles like Financial Times vs. lifestyle titles like GQ magazine.
A real example of this came from a proposal for a software company that needed to target developer audiences. Their brief was for a traditional PR one. Except, when we dove into the actual technical, code-level conversations (i.e. focused on the conversations developers themselves were having and the level at which they spoke, vs. how other, more mainstream voices talk about development), we quickly saw that the traditional tech or even national news wouldn’t be the right channels to meet these people on.
On Quid, the results came back to show that it was specifically trade and research press – more specifically, a handful of developer blogs such as Stack Overflow, SlashDot, Coding Horror, etc – that were the real online news and info sources reaching these guys.
And on NetBase, we found that Twitter was hugely relevant, but also that forums – in particular Reddit – were over indexing (compared to usual ranking) as a percentage of where the conversation was happening.
This gave us the insight to build a very different proposal than to a traditional PR brief, and the data to support why.
2. Find and analyse the theme(s) and topic(s) that matter across the board
If we want a multichannel campaign, we need to find the theme or creative area that is relevant across the channels we want to activate. Something that works and can be adapted to the ones we’ve identified as relevant.
To make sure that you’re spotting common themes across channels, it’s often helpful to analyse channels separately, and identify the key stories and themes that overlap to create an impact across both. Trying to understand how each theme plays out over time as well, identifying overlaps of peaks and important moments in time – for you, competitors or the whole industry.
Taking a specific example from the world of cybersecurity, we started in the Quid product to look at the conversation themes driving media coverage – and how it was being amplified on social – finding topics such as international espionage, election interference and cybersecurity skills gap as regular themes.
Separately, we looked at the social media conversation on NetBase, identifying what was behind the word clouds to find similar themes regarding political interference and foreign interventions, as well as corporate hacking.
To look comparatively at the two channels, we also created custom tags for collective terms and set out the topics that resonated, across both channels, and were the most relevant and topical conversations to tap into – and made a combined percentage weighted analysis to understand relative conversation size across channels.
3. Tailor for the differences
While the overall story and campaign message should be consistent, content formats and creative executions should be channel specific.
When you’re analysing your social and media conversations, and you’re seeing the ways that they’re different, you need to decide whether you create separate content to match each, and whether the content format can be adapted to be native to each platform or channel.
A helpful starting point is to look at the most engaging and amplified content on each channel. Some topics, while having media interest, may not be the top performing pieces of content on social media on the same topic. To take an example from when physical events were still a thing and we had the Oscars in 2020 – you can see the difference in top performing posts on social vs news media.
Most amplified news (above) vs most engaged social (below):
Because to reap the additional effectiveness and ROI of multichannel marketing, it’s not just using all channels, it’s using the channels you have in the right way.
But have no doubt, multichannel marketing is critical to increasing effectiveness – and no channel is more important in amplifying your resources organically than the earned channels of news and social media – so long as you’re willing to spend the time analysing and understanding the platforms to target in each media, the common areas, and how to tailor content.
Connect with Kristian Hoareau Foged, Founder, Director of Analytics & Strategy, Simply Thought on LinkedIn!