Consumers are moving faster than organizations can handle, and just about every area of business technology is feeling the burn. In the world of multi-channel marketing, disparate and siloed systems have led to inconsistent branding and disconnected marketing offers across channels. Avoid the gaps by following these 5 tips: 

1. Create a Consistent Brand Message

A brand is a commitment to provide consistent product performance and a repeatable level of service. Think about it: The world's biggest brands, such as Apple, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, are models of consistency. You know what you're going to get because you've gotten the same thing for as far back as you can remember.

The growing number of channels for media consumption highlight the importance of a consistent message by making it easier for marketers to slip up-- and boy, do they. According to a November 2010 report for Aberdeen Group titled The Roadmap from Multi-Channel to Cross-Channel Retailing: The True ROI of Unified Customer Experience, only 32% of respondents could execute a unified promotional plan for all marketing channels. 

"With all of these channels (some of which are out of your control), it’s important to monitor them closely. Economies of scale hold true here, as a single unified communication can be “published” on multiple social platforms." said Pete Iuvara of mindSHIFT Technologies. "Companies should leverage the viral nature of publishing content through their websites and out through the social web. Online interactions create engagement and engagements create relationships. Through these relationships is where trust is built, and conversely brand loyalty and awareness."

2. Invest in Emerging Channels

Successful marketing means bringing your "A" game to present channels as well as future ones.  For example, [email protected] is a digital media agency and division of OgilvyOne that serves some of the biggest clients in the world: IBM, American Express, Cisco and Allstate. Part of their strategy goes like this: 

We invest in all emerging channels that match the business goals.
Those who want to be successful in digital marketing both now and in the future would be well advised to gather experience with emerging channels, make targeted investments in innovative technologies, and develop new concepts for the future of marketing today. 

Doing so responds directly to the rise of social media, which, as we all well know by now, has shown no sign of slowing. 

3. Develop a Unified Marketing Approach 

Don't get it twisted-- a unified marketing approach isn't just another way to promote a consistent brand message. Michael Kogon, CEO of Definition 6, puts it like this:

...a unified approach will look to deliver "one experience" for the consumer. That can mean very different tactics for each platform including online/website, mobile and traditional marketing efforts. It becomes less about managing a brand/client and more about guiding. The world is not a static environment and in order to communicate a brand's message with its core audience, it will need to be able to create true connections while people are in a constant state of motion.

Basically, unified marketing is a framework that allows both traditional and digital marketing tactics to be mapped on the same plane and compared. This can save you and your team a ton of time and brain pain by reducing redundant efforts and identifying opportunities.

The unified approach is also handy because it doesn't play favorites. No one tactic is enough, nor solely responsible for users taking actions; they are all equally important. In this way, there's room for for the calculation of relative effectiveness and ROI of all marketing tactics no matter what channel or discipline they belong to. Yay for not throwing too much or too little money at any one department.

4. Plan Your Campaign in Advance

A communications timeline is essential, especially when you're juggling touch points. Plus, planning your campaign ahead of time can really ease the process of both the unified approach and consistent branding. Zoom out and understand how each channel works together and reinforces messaging without overwhelming your audience.

Further, achieving a single view of the customer often requires collecting a ton of data, mapping those feeds from your CRM, POS and ecommerce system to a data warehouse, filtering that data and then serving it up to power the different touchpoints. 

In other words, it's going to take some lateral thinking. 

5. Capture All Activity

Activity is data and data is important if you want to get to know your customer, so track all activity. If you offer a survey or contact form, make sure the answers are immediately forwarded to a team that can respond as necessary. Give each channel a unique landing page in order to accurately track which efforts were most effective. 

We wish you the best of luck with these tactics and as an added bonus, offer this advice: Don't rush it. The key here is in striking a balance between moving at the same pace as today's consumers and what's realistic within your organizational constraints (budget, technology, etc.).

Experiment with possible solutions, learn from them, and improve your process with the key takeaways.