Even if you’re not a marketing professional, an understanding of what multichannel marketing is and how it works is critical to executing successful campaigns to bring in donors, renew members, and more. So, what is multichannel marketing? It’s the practice of engaging with an audience of potential consumers, customers, or members through a variety of direct and indirect communication channels with the goal of producing an action such as a purchase, a donation, or an advocacy action. Direct communication channels include direct mail, email, calls, and texts. Indirect communication channels include social media, advertisements, and websites.
Multichannel marketing is important because you and your organization need to reach audiences where they’re at. Think of the VISA slogan, “It’s everywhere you want to be.” Multichannel marketing helps increase the chances of finding customers where they ‘live,’ using the power of frequency and reach via multiple communication channels.
Now that you understand the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of multichannel marketing, let’s go over how to execute an effective campaign.
Your communication will be for naught if you haven’t selected the appropriate audience or audiences. At Cure SMA, we use a combination of demographic and behavioral segmentation to capture the ideal audience. Demographic segmentation is identifying people based on demographics like age, gender, geographical location, and more. Behavioral segmentation groups people based on behaviors such as conference attendees, major donors, or fundraisers who’ve raised $1,000 or more.
For Cure SMA’s Walk-n-Roll program, a nationwide fundraising program that brings communities together to support Cure SMA, we’ve targeted past Walk-n-Roll attendees (behavioral), donors from the past three years who’ve donated but not attended a walk (behavioral), and occasionally other individuals within the local geography of the event (demographic).
You don’t have to use every tool at your disposal just because you have it, but you do need to understand all the tools you have available and how and why they’re used. Referencing the Walk-n-Roll campaign discussed above, we use a combination of email blasts, one-to-one emails and calls, peer-to-peer coaching, ringless voicemail messages, advertisements, and website promotions to increase awareness of the program and drive registration and fundraising.
This might seem like a lot, but each tool has a dedicated purpose. Email blasts and website promotions begin to spread the word about the event. Texts and ringless voicemail drop messages seem personalized but are quick ways to send registration reminders. Advertisements can be more general, like ads placed in your organization’s magazine or newsletter or more targeted, like geotargeted Facebook ads. Finally, one-to-one emails and calls provide a personalized experience with a higher conversion rate and peer-to-peer coaching demonstrates social proof.
Your association management software (AMS) or customer relationship management (CRM) software is the best place from which to pull demographic and behavioral-based data and insights. It’s a terrific way to both collect information and make it easily sharable across departments.
Make sure you know what to collect and why you’re collecting it. Your membership, marketing, fundraising, and/or operations teams are suitable places to gather insights and your dedicated account manager within the organization hosting your AMS or CRM can provide you with guidance and a framework to get you started.
It doesn’t always feel like it, but feedback truly is a gift. For instance, the Cure SMA team was originally concerned that texting and ringless voicemails might be received negatively by our constituents, so we started with smaller groups and then expanded when we found that these communication channels were generally well received. In the past, I’ve also utilized A/B testing, which is sending similar communications with one key component changed, like adding a video or using a different subject line, to assess their performance within segments of the same group.
Don’t be afraid if something doesn’t work the first time. What seems like a failure is often valuable feedback. Last but not least, make sure your premium cable package isn’t the only multichannel offering you’re taking advantage of and get started with a multichannel marketing strategy!
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Amy Thomasson, CAE is a strategist, content creator, and storyteller with extensive experience in marketing and communications, membership development, and volunteer management. She has worked in a variety of business environments ranging from the Fortune 500 to professional associations. Amy serves as Vice President, Marketing and Communications at Cure SMA, a nonprofit organization creating breakthroughs for individuals with spinal muscular atrophy. Amy is also a speaker and author who has partnered with ASAE, Association Forum, Sidecar, and standalone associations to deliver engaging content. Amy is a recipient of Association Forum Forty Under 40® Award and the Daily Herald Business Ledger’s Influential Women in Business Award.
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