8 Steps to Creating a Multi-channel B2B Marketing Strategy

Published on
January 9, 2023

According to a report by CEB Marketing Leadership Council, B2B customers complete 2/3rdof the journey online before they interact with your salespeople

Your customers are doing their research by interacting withcontent over the web and other traditional mediums.

Additionally, the explosion of channels in the digital world means that your customers could be anywhere.

According to the Pew Center for Research, nearly 72% of people use social media regularly. Half use more than one social network, and half use at least four different social media sites.

Add to this the number of marketing messages they get already. This has made marketing in this dynamic and noisy environment more challenging than ever. They expect you to be there and serve them relevant and personalized content based on their preferences.

Hence, multiple channel marketing is the need of the hour to cater to your prospects’ and customers’ expectations.

What is multi-channel marketing?

As the name suggests, multi-channel marketing is a practice of marketing on multiple channels. This allows your customers and prospects to interact with your brand at the channels they are comfortable with. They could be traditional channels like print, radio, television, events, etc., or modern platforms like LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

While multi-channel marketing technically means marketing across different channels, your prospects and customers expect you to have a cohesive strategy. This allows their experience to stay consistent irrespective of their channel.

72% of consumers say they prefer to connect with brands and businesses through multi-channel marketing.

This is why having a multi-channel marketing strategy is so critical to have the right content on the right platform at the right time.

How to create a multi-channel marketing strategy?

Your role as a marketer is to meet your prospects whereverthey are and speak to them in a way they are comfortable.

As discussed earlier, with the growth of the digital medium, there has been an explosion of channels, each with its purpose and type of content that can be published.

Here is a list of platforms available and the type of content that goes on them (Source: HubSpot).

You need to pick the right channel and the right type of content at the right time to convert your audience effectively.

Once you do that, it is all about optimizing your strategy for conversions and costs.

Here’s an 8-step process to create a multi-channel marketing strategy

Step 1: Understand your target audience

Before you start evaluating various platforms, the first step that you should take is to identify your target audience, a.k.a make your buyer personas.

Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. It is extremely critical to deeply understand your buyers before devising any marketing strategy. The question now is not whether it is important to make buyer personas. It is rather how you can make them.

You can do this by identifying your past customers and understanding the following things about them:

  1. Role in the buying process
  2. Industry
  3. Region
  4. Goals and challenges
  5. Platforms they are present on
  6. Type and topics of content they engage with
  7. Influencers they follow
  8. Existing or new customer

You can find this information by looking at your past customers' digital profiles or by interviewing them.

You can refer to this guide by HubSpot on how to identify and define your target audience.

Note: As a business, you would have more than one buyer persona to which you would be catering. The needs, goals, drivers, and challenges of all of them would differ. Hence, you need to create multiple personas and detail them exhaustively.

Here is an example of a buyer persona for a Windows 10 OS customer:

Once you detail your target audiences, you need to breakthem into different segments to reflect similarities in individualpersonalities.

SmartTip: Your target audience should not be limited to your customers and prospects. It should also include influencers in yourspace.

As Neil Patel mentions in one of his articles, the number one person you should target is the one who pays you. Next on the list should be the one who influences your customer to pay you.

Step 2: Understand your business goal and objective for each persona

Once you have identified and segmented your buyer persona, the next step is to identify each segment's goals and objectives and correspond them with your business goals. This helps you in devising marketing strategies individually for each segment.

As you might be aware that not every segment contributes equally to your business' revenue and profits. As a business, you might be selling different products to different customers. Each customer and product have its maturity and growth levels. Hence, you would have individual goals and objectives for each one of them.

For example: Microsoft deals in multiple products and solutions. For a product like Microsoft Office, its objective would be to drive as much revenue as possible. However, their objective is to drive awareness for their artificial intelligence and quantum intelligence solutions.

This is only one case where the goals and objectives would be different. Similarly, marketing to an influencer might mean convincing them to share your solution with their target audience rather than buying it themselves. Likewise, you must define each segment's business goals and objectives individually. This helps you determine how much money you need to allocate to individual segments and the outcome you want from them.

Step 3: Identify the platforms which you can use

Once you have identified your target personas and defined the goals for each one, the next step is to identify all the platforms your target audience is available on. These would be platforms on which your personas are regularly active and engaged. There could be a plethora of platforms, both digital and non-digital which you need to consider.

It could be traditional channels like Print, TV, Radio, Events, Roadshows, etc., or it could be relatively new channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Quora, Reddit, etc. Does it make sense to be present on every platform?

No, every platform serves a purpose in your customers’ and prospects’ life. Additionally, your prospects’ time spent on one platform might be too low even to consider it. You can create a 2*2 matrix with time on the x-axis and purpose on the y-axis to determine whether it makes business sense to be present on the platform. It should look something like this:

This helps you identify the right platforms to be active on. You can add more factors like engagement and conversion rates to this matrix to determine the platform's effectiveness.

Note: This indicates how you need to identify your platforms. Similarly, you can place different platforms in different quadrants based on your target audience’s behavior.

Step 4: Map the journey of your prospects

As you might have read countless times by now, yourprospects follow a buying journey before they are ready to buy your solution,and that 2/3rd of the buying journey is over by the time they interact withyour salespeople.

Not every channel is used at every stage of the journey.Your prospects refer to specific channels at specific stages of the journey.

They might refer to your print ads, magazines, blogs, etc.,at the start of the journey when trying to identify the problem they arefacing. As they reach the decision stage, they might need more high-touchengagement in the form of events and in-person workshops to tell them aboutyour solution and ensure conversions.

Example of the cloud buyer’s journey and platforms they follow at each stage:

Mapping on platform as per the buyer's journey

Similarly, you need to map your prospects' journey and identify the platforms used by them at different stages.

Step 5: Identify the right message and content

During this step of the process, you need to do two things:

1.    Identify the message you need to communicate. This would correspond to the stage of your target audience.

For example: If your cloud solution customer has just started their journey, you will communicate the challenges that he would be facing both in terms of IT infrastructure (Cost, Scalability, etc.) and business objectives (Productivity, Customer Engagement, etc.).

Example of cloud buyers’ goals at each stage of the buying journey.

Messaging as per the buyers journey

2.    Once you haveidentified the platform you would be using, you need to identify the type ofcontent required for the platform: You cannot post similar content on eachplatform.

For example: While your blog posts might just require a 1200-2000words article, social media might require something in visual form, and a salespitch might require something totally different.

Smart tip: It is a good idea to cross-post content onmultiple platforms to increase reach and create the multiplier effect.

For example: Your sales presentation can be cross-posted on SlideShare. Similarly, your blogs can be posted in magazines and on your social media accounts. This can help you in increasing your content's reach.

Step 6: Determine how you will measure success

Once you have decided on your channels for different stages of the buying journey, it is time to determine how much you need to spend on each of them and how you will measure the success of each one of them.

Note: Success is not always measured by the number of leads you get from each channel. In case your target prospect is in the early stages of the buying journey, you will measure success by the amount of awareness you can create.

For example: Continuing with the example in Step 2, the success metric for Microsoft Office could be the amount of revenue or Azure usage. Similarly, the success metric for artificial intelligence solutions could be the number of initial customers or the amount of awareness.

Similarly, you need to identify success metrics for each segment of the target audience for each platform for each stage of the buying journey.

Step 7: Define and select your channel mix

Once you have defined the success metrics for each segmentof the target audience for each stage of the buying journey, you need toidentify the ideal channel mix.

For example: For Microsoft Office, you have defined yoursuccess metric as revenue. Hence, in this case, your budget on awarenesschannels like blogs and websites would be low vis-a-vis that on conversionchannels like emails and events.

Apart from what has already been discussed above, this would be based on the following:

  1. Your budget
  2. Capability of the channel in driving your success metrics

You should not only define and select your channel mix. You should also define how much budget you need to spend on each platform based on its capability and the amount required to succeed on the same.

Step 8: Execute, Analyze and Optimize

If you have reached this stage, you have created yourmultichannel strategy. It is time to execute it.

Smart tip: It is a great practice to start small andidentify which channels are actually working for you and which are not. Onceyou understand each channel's effectiveness, you need to optimize yourconversion and costs strategy continuously.

This helps you to identify the right channels and re-jig your budget to double down on their successes.

Note: Despite recent technological advancements, it might be difficult to attribute success to any one channel. A channel like Facebook might not bring leads directly but could be instrumental in driving awareness of your solutions.

Conclusion

With the advent of the digital medium, the number of channels on which your customers are present has exploded. This has been coupled with an increase in their expectations concerning relevance and personalization.

Add to this the number of marketing messages they already receive, and you will have a marketer's nightmare.

In this context, you need a cohesive marketing strategy to engage with your prospects and customers across different channels with the right content at the right time.

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