Multichannel marketing — interacting with customers through many channels at once — is the flavor of the month in marketing. In theory, by communicating across social and digital (and perhaps physical and broadcast) channels, better engagement is possible. Like so many marketing buzzwords, one has to wonder if this is a lot of hype or if it is an important concept that everyone should integrate into their best practices.
Keeping the Conversation Going
Neuralytix recently found evidence that multichannel social and digital interactions can spark engagement with customers. Using software from Blab called BlabPredicts, we analyzed social and digital media conversations during SAP SAPPHIRE Now 2014. It quickly became apparent that diversity of social and digital media channels carrying a message had a big effect on engagement.
When a conversation is comprised mostly of a single channel, for example press releases in news feeds, they end sooner and rarely show up in other channels. On the other hand, when conversations occurred across several channels at the same time, they were sustained for longer periods of time and crossed into additional channels. A deep dive into the actual posts showed that these conversations were true conversations, not one way communication. Real customers appeared engaged with vendors, experts and each other.
For example, there were conversations that consisted mostly of press releases picked up (rather lazily) verbatim by digital news outlets. These ballooned quickly and receded just as fast. In contrast, other conversations were a mix of news stories and YouTube videos with Twitter and Facebook posts. Conversations such as these were slower to grow but continued over long periods of time. Many of these conversations also crossed over into blogs, other Twitter conversations, and were then picked up on additional news sites in new articles. In a nutshell, conversations that existed across several social and digital channels, tended to last longer and generated greater levels of engagement.
Cause and Effect
There are a couple of reasons for this effect. First, looking into the posts, it was obvious that the conversations in social media were more authentic conversations. While the conversations were often kicked off by from an SAP account, customers, partners, and analysts soon joined in. Messages were no longer pushed through the channel, instead they were owned by the participants.
The channels also mutually supported each other. A message contained in a Twitter conversation might crossover to a blog and back again. This back and forth generated a positive feedback loop where conversations generated other conversations which fueled the original conversation.
When it comes to social and digital marketing, it is clear that channel diversity matters. Single channel marketing, such as press releases, generated short bursts of activity but no real engagement. Messages transmitted through several social and digital channels were sustained over time and generated more authentic customer conversations. These messages also crossed over into other channels naturally further extending the conversation.
At least as far as social and digital marketing is concerned, multichannel market leverages social network effects to create true engagement. It’s not just the flavor of the month.
About the Author
Tom Petrocelli is research director, enterprise social, mobile and cloud applications at Neuralytix. He is an experienced marketing, technology and business executive with 29 years in the computer technology industry. Read more about the channel diversity study here (pdf).
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