Social media and inbound marketing in a cross-channel marketing strategy

When talking about cross-channel marketing we often think about digital and social media, while forgetting offline channels and customer interactions. Although a lot is happening online and mobile communications, emerging technologies and social media are very hot (and important) topics, cross-channel marketing and its challenges are not new.

In 2005, the MIT Center for eBusiness published a report, called “The Cross Channel Impact of Marketing Communications”. It showed that the cross-channel impact of marketing campaigns and programs was already a hot topic then, among others, because of the Internet.

All online channels, as they existed then, formed a challenge for cross-channel marketing and for a global and holistic look regarding the identification of the sources where customers and prospects came from and how their buying journey developed throughout all possible interactions.

In the mean time, we saw the development of advanced marketing automation and lead management tools, web analytics platforms and customer intelligence and management systems that helped businesses in getting that cross-channel view and approach.

With the arrival of social media and the increasing focus on inbound marketing, however, it again has become more difficult for businesses to develop, manage and optimize a cross-channel marketing strategy and to follow and serve the prospect and customer throughout all interactions.

It is as if every new development brings the same cross-channel challenges back.

The quest for new metrics

As recent studies have shown, many marketers find it very hard to trace the impact and ROI of social media marketing and integrate it in a cross-channel marketing strategy.

One of the reasons is that immediate conversion can be tracked on social media (clicks etc.) but the real conversion, from prospect to customer, in inbound marketing requires another approach. On top of that, the impact of social media engagement, reviews, etc. has to be measured in other ways.

New metrics regarding reach and engagement should make it easier to translate social media marketing effects into understandable metrics that can be used in a cross-channel perspective. We should also realize that social media marketing and inbound marketing are broad terms that cover a wide range of underlying marketing channels and tactics.

It’s time to integrate

Other forms of social media marketing strive more towards having or building a community around your brand. Here the purpose is to bring as much people as possible in the influence sphere of your brand. Cross-channel marketing and multi-channel marketing are becoming an imperative. There are more channels than ever before and they should not sit in silos if you have a customer-centric approach.

When combined and integrated in function of the customer buying journey, all channels strengthen each other.

Smart and coordinated cross-channel marketing not only improves the reach your brands and campaigns have but are also a necessity in this era where people want to be able to choose communication channels of their preference themselves.

That’s one of the reasons it is time to integrate.