How to choose the right mix of marketing channels in a multi-channel world

multi-channel marketing statistics

In the era of smartphones, apps, online shopping and serious attention deficit, customers want brands to reach them via the channel of their preference. On the other end of the spectrum are marketers that have one too many channels to choose from to render their marketing communication.

The conundrum becomes intensive when you look at these stats:

The power lies with customers; marketing is no longer marketer-centric but customer-centric.


The performance of channels varies drastically, some attract good CTR’s, some are cost effective, and some are easy to deploy. It is not like the old days where direct mail, newspaper ad, were enough to grab eyeballs.

Nowadays, marketers face the problem of too many to choose the right mix of channels.

Marketing by moments

82% of smartphone users turn to their phone to influence a purchase decision while in a store.

Moments are behaviors and psychological states exhibited by consumers as they interact with the internet to-search, to-do, to-buy, to-learn or to-discover something.

These are intent-rich moments when decisions are made, and preferences get shaped.

Thus, marketers need to influence customers across these critical moments of truth. And, using the right mix of marketing channels is the first step towards effectively influencing users during these moments of truth.

zmot smot umot image moment of truth
Image source

In 2005, A.G. Lafley the then CEO of Proctor & Gamble said –
“The best brands consistently win two moments of truth, the First Moment of Truth (FMOT) occurs at the store shelf, when a consumer decides whether to buy one brand or another. The second [SMOT] occurs at home, when she uses the brand – and is delighted, or isn’t.”

In 2011, the search engine giant Google, coined the term Zero Moment of Truth [ZMOT ~ Zee Mot], the moment where first impressions happen and the path to purchase often begins. It’s a moment where marketing happens, where information happens, and where consumers make choices that affect the success and failure of nearly every brand in the world.

Furthermore, there’s UMOT, the Ultimate Moment of Truth where experiences are shared to build impressions that later becomes ZMOT for new customers.

zmot fmot smot umot example moment of truth

Determine the right mix of marketing channels

We have already seen the various factors that influence the choice of communication channels. Here, we showcase how certain channel attributes affect the choice of channel depending on the use-case in consideration.

For instance, for Cart Abandonment – Email, Web Message, SMS are preferred communication channels as these channels satisfy the most attributes (highlighted in the table).

Appropriate Channel Selector as per Use-Case:

NoteUse the drop down to select a use-case. All critical values that affect the choice of channel are highlighted. Subsequently, the preferred channels in the last column are also highlighted.

For the sake of simplicity, we have kept the attributes and use-cases industry agnostic.

Deliverability Message Length Reachability Interactivity Retrievability Cost Rich media Channels
Medium 20540* Medium Two-way Yes Medium Yes Email
High 2500* Medium Two-way (survey) One-way (Notification) No Low Yes Web Message
High 255* Low Two-way (survey) One-way (Notification) No Low Yes In-app
Low 169* High One-way No Low Yes Push N
Low 160* High Two-way Yes High No SMS
Deliverability Message Length Reachability Interactivity Retrievability Cost Rich media Channels
Medium 20540* Medium Two-way Yes Medium Yes Email
High 2500* Medium Two-way (survey) One-way (Notification) No Low Yes Web Message
High 255* Low Two-way (survey) One-way (Notification) No Low Yes In-app
Low 169* High One-way No Low Yes Push N
Low 160* High Two-way Yes High No SMS
Deliverability Message Length Reachability Interactivity Retrievability Cost Rich media Channels
Medium 20540* Medium Two-way Yes Medium Yes Email
High 2500* Medium Two-way (survey) One-way (Notification) No Low Yes Web Message
High 255* Low Two-way (survey) One-way (Notification) No Low Yes In-app
Low 169* High One-way No Low Yes Push N
Low 160* High Two-way Yes High No SMS
Deliverability Message Length Reachability Interactivity Retrievability Cost Rich media Channels
Medium 20540* Medium Two-way Yes Medium Yes Email
High 2500* Medium Two-way (survey) One-way (Notification) No Low Yes Web Message
High 255* Low Two-way (survey) One-way (Notification) No Low Yes In-app
Low 169* High One-way No Low Yes Push N
Low 160* High Two-way Yes High No SMS
Deliverability Message Length Reachability Interactivity Retrievability Cost Rich media Channels
Medium 20540* Medium Two-way Yes Medium Yes Email
High 2500* Medium Two-way (survey) One-way (Notification) No Low Yes Web Message
High 255* Low Two-way (survey) One-way (Notification) No Low Yes In-app
Low 169* High One-way No Low Yes Push N
Low 160* High Two-way Yes High No SMS

  • Deliverability: The percentage of total users approachable via. a channel (function of opt-ins, unsubscribe, spam rate, hard bounce, DND etc.)
  • Message Length: The character limit of a message allowed on the channel (* the character limit is subject to change based on device type, message layout etc.)
  • Reachability: The general frequency of use of the channel by customers.
  • Interactivity: Two way or one way mode of communication
  • Retrievability: The provision to store the message for post interaction referencing
  • Cost: Operational cost attached to sending message
  • Rich media: The property of channel that allows the use of rich text/media.

Let’s look at the channel specific pros and cons.

To each its own – benefits and limitations

Channel Benefits Limitations
SMS Delivered instantly
Reliable (almost no spam)
Relatively high views
Cost effective
Limited message length
Prone to opt-outs if overused
Text is vulnerable to be lost in clutter
No use of rich media (GIF)
Email Good ROI
Easy to measure, deliver
Low cost
Message length not a constraint
Allows use of rich media
Prone to land in Spam folder
Regulatory laws (Can-spam act)
Push Notifications Provides for various formats- carousels, rich-push, text
Easily personalized
Helps boost app launch
Easy to target users using geofencing, user attributes etc.
High Opt-out rates
Overuse leads to app uninstall
Requires personalization to be effective
Requires to be sent at apt time
In-app Message Allows for two way communication
Sent to a captive audience
Registers high interaction
Ideally helps in guiding users, gather feedback etc.
Limited reach
Irrelevant messages backfire in app uninstalls
Web Message Allows for two-way communication (notification/survey)
Helps in building guided flow for site visitors
Helps in highlighting new feature or promotions
Effective for generating leads (capture user details)
Efficient in taking real-time feedback
Intrusive to the user experience on site
Overuse leads to visitors bouncing off

 

TL,DR- Every channel has its pros and cons, and thus these must be weighed before you go on to send your marketing message. 

Factors that affect choice of communication channel

  • buyer-lifecycle-stage-iconBuyer lifecycle stage:
    The usual buyer lifecycle stages are awareness, consideration, comparison, conversion, retention, advocacy. Your choice of channel to communicate with top of the funnel user will depend on their first interaction. Likewise, consider an anonymous user visiting your site for the first time, the obvious choice will be to use Web Message as channel (to convert anonymous user to contact).
  • channel-engagement-rate-iconChannel engagement rate: (historic/industry average)
    Past is a predictor of future, and our expectation from future. Ask yourself, how the channel has performed for your business in the past? What are the industry benchmarks? How the competition is doing on the channels?
  • type-of-message-iconType of message: (Promotional /Transactional / Re-engagement / Educational message)
    In my recent experience of buying from Amazon, I received an email and SMS, almost simultaneously, an hour before the product was scheduled to deliver. Moreover, Amazon solicited product review only via email.
  • length-of-message-iconLength of message:
    Nearly all channels have an optimum length of message. Email is one channel that is used to render fairly descriptive messages like change in usage policy etc. Text messages have a bar of 160 characters, and push message length varies with platform and device e.g. iOS push for iPhone 6 Plus has limit of 169 characters.
  • frequency-of-message-iconFrequency of message:
    Given that the frequency of message is predetermined as in the case of monthly/weekly newsletters it is logical to fix a channel. Monthly Newsletter is preferably sent over email. Other type of communication like flash sale once a season promotional message (flash sale).
  • channel-reach-iconChannel reach:
    The number of users reachable by a channel differs. You will have different numbers of customer with emails, phone numbers, or with app installed, or engaged in the app at any point. Thus, impacting your choice of channel.
  • industry-type-iconIndustry type (travel, shopping, banking, classified, real estate) and scale of business (large, medium, small):
    The influence of each channel varies for different industry types and size of business. Later in the post we will see how.

Measuring effectiveness of your campaign

With visitors coming from various channels it is all the more important to keep track of the channels contributing more to conversions.

Marketers need to know what works and do more of it in order to optimize the allocation of marketing investment across channels.

Macro Outcomes & Micro Outcomes –
Macro outcome is the final conversion, that one final purchase when a prospect becomes a customer.

Micro outcomes are the various small events that users take leading to the macro outcome (conversion). For instance, for an ecommerce website store lookups, email signups, ratings submitted, add to cart events are all micro outcomes.

Google Analytics defines three types of interactions first interaction, assist interaction, and last interaction. Similarly, in a multi-channel marketing environment, there are campaigns that are focused at

  • Engaging audience at the top of the funnel,
  • Assisting them in moving down the conversion funnel, and
  • Conversion focused campaigns

Taking an integrated approach to rendering multi-channel marketing makes measuring its effectiveness easy. All you need is a single birdseye view providing the overall analytics along with the individual campaign metrics.

Take for example a multi-channel marketing workflow aimed to drive Insurance Renewals for a BFSI company. Subsequently, also see the in-depth channel and campaign specific analytics to track performance.

insurance-renewal-journey-small

insurance-renewal-journey_02

Over to YOU

We established that marketing channels have different characteristics, also enlisting their benefits and limitations. We also touched upon moments of truth and how influencing prospects during these moments is extremely rewarding. Followed by determining the right mix of marketing channels based on different use-cases, channel characteristics. And, we also looked at measuring effectiveness at campaign level as well as channel level.

Owing to these dynamic times marketing has become challenging plus exciting at the same time. I would like to know your thoughts on how you approach multi-channel marketing and the choice of channels for your marketing communication. Use the comments section to share your thoughts.

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  • Duke Vukadinovic

    Nice topic Shafique! I also believe that omnichannel marketing is a must as customers and organizations have unprecedented access to digital technologies. If they use it correctly, they will be able to key into customer affinities and behavior to adopt omnichannel strategies and solutions to better manage the data, understand customers, and exceed customers’ expectations at each and every interaction.

  • Thanks Duke!
    I concur with your thoughts on omnichannel marketing and use of data to understand customers and exceed their expectations. I think most marketers know the answer to the WHAT but not the HOW. That’s where the gap lies, and hence the opportunity for intelligent marketing automation tools.

  • Duke Vukadinovic

    Well said Shafique! Couldn’t agree more with you on that 🙂

  • Iason Yannis Schizas

    Great Study and Insights! Thanks

  • Glad you found it useful, Iason.