9 best practices for multichannel marketing

Learn the best practices of multichannel marketing to increase your campaign success and track your ROI

9 best practices for multichannel marketing

80% of business leaders say consumers spend more—38% on average—when their experience is personalized, according to Twilio Segment’s 2023 State of Personalization Report. But where does personalization begin? 

It begins by reaching customers on the right channel—their preferred channel—when sending out marketing communications. Here’s what businesses need to know to employ a multichannel marketing strategy so they can most effectively reach their customers. 

What is a multichannel marketing strategy?

The goal of a multichannel or cross-channel marketing strategy is to provide a differentiated, personalized, and relevant experience for a particular audience to maximize sales and loyalty. When it comes to multichannel marketing, personalization begins with communicating on each individual customer’s preferred channel such as email, SMS, MMS, WhatsApp, or voice. 

Beyond personalization, successful multichannel marketing requires the use of data for program optimization (e.g. A/B testing), maintaining the highest level of delivery, and adherance to the ever-changing global compliance and privacy requirements. In addition to meeting their current customers' desires, a marketing team’s strategy must also plan for long term growth which may include expanding to new regions with different channel preferences or integrating new and innovative marketing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).

How important is a multichannel marketing strategy?

In Twilio's 2023 Global Messaging Engagement Report, we surveyed more than 4,800 consumers across 6 countries—Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S.—to better understand customer communication preferences around the world. 

The survey found that 95% of consumers like to receive email from brands they are interested in and 75% specifically subscribe to email in order to receive marketing communications. As for SMS/MMS, 89% of consumers like to receive SMS/MMS from brands they are interested in and 61% specifically subscribe to SMS/MMS in order to receive marketing communications.

Add in the fact that WhatsApp has 2.7 billion monthly active users, with 23% using WhatsApp to receive promotional offers, and it’s apparent that a multichannel marketing strategy is necessary to better compete today.  

Multichannel marketing best practices

With that in mind, let’s dive into our nine best practices for multichannel marketing.

1. Grow your list of subscribers by channel

Consider the many different avenues you may have to increase your marketing subscription lists:

  • Do you already have an email list that you can look to expand to other channels? 
  • Do you have specific scenarios in which customers interact directly with your brand in person or online such as logging into websites, making appointments, confirming purchases, or making payments? 
  • Do you have paid ads or social channels where you communicate with customers? 

Make a list and then assess if any of them provide an opportunity to ask about receiving marketing communications on the various channels you have incorporated into your MarTech stack. Remember to gather consent in writing or a recordable format and then keep a record of this consent. 

There are several options to increase the likelihood of customers subscribing. One common tactic is offering something of value in exchange for subscribing such as a discount coupon or invites to special events. It is also recommended to be explicit about the types of marketing a customer is subscribing to and letting them know how frequently they will be contacted. 

Pro Tip

Sign-ups provide a great opportunity to gather first-party customer data to feed your customer relationship management (CRM) platform or customer data platform (CDP) and enhance future campaign success. Asking questions like, “What products interest you?” and then providing a selection list can amplify targeted segmentation in the future.

2. Ask your customers’ for their preferred channels

Find the opportunity to proactively ask your customers for their communication preferences. Then, document that information, such as in a CRM, CDP, or preference management center, for future multichannel marketing campaigns. 

In an ideal situation you should ask based on the sub-use case. For example, if Jenny prefers email for promotions but SMS for appointment confirmations then Jenny’s preferences should be accommodated through your multichannel communication platform.

What channel options should you make available? In general, email is a must. As for messaging, in North America SMS is preferred but in other parts of the world it could be WhatsApp and/or SMS.

Voice is also a viable channel for marketing, predominantly on high dollar-value transactions. Businesses can now use technologies such as Branded Calling to display their company name, logo, and call reason on the called party's cell phone when they receive a call. This helps establish trust and a likelihood of the customer answering your call.

3. Segment your campaign audiences for optimal targeting

According to The Ultimate Guide to Customer Segmentation, “By segmenting your audience and engaging a specific subset of customers, your business can serve customers more targeted, personalized content. This can not only increase customer conversions, but improve the ROI of your marketing and advertising efforts.”

Look to the data you have collected on your customers to determine your various audiences for your marketing campaigns. For example, at sign-up if you had asked for channel preferences by sub-use-case then this is where your efforts will pay off. 

Remember  our earlier example where Jenny preferred email for promotions? If you choose to send her an SMS promotion then you risk a “STOP” reply which will remove her from future SMS campaigns she may  desire later on.

Where else should you look for data? The answer is across your entire business. If you have disparate silos of information across your company then try your best to break down barriers to move forward as a cohesive company. For example, when the marketing team can see what the customer service team is up to (and vice versa), they may find an opportunity to target a new, unforeseen audience with similarities. 

The same rule-of-thumb applies across marketing. If you have separate teams conducting email vs SMS marketing, they should collaborate with each other to ensure customers aren’t being overcommunicated or sent mixed messages.

4. Carefully define goals and conversions for effective performance analysis

Be diligent about defining what a “conversion” will be in your campaign, how you will track this metric, and how it will factor into your overall performance analysis and goals.  

If you’re only using one channel and the goal of your campaign is to increase purchases of X by Y% then it’s relatively easy to conduct your downstream performance analytics. A “conversion” will be defined as a “purchase” and you simply need to measure those volumes and associated dollar values, compare to your original goal, and you’re all set. 

However, not all campaigns are that simple. 

If you’re running a multichannel marketing campaign, how will you attribute results to a particular channel? If your conversion is not a purchase, how will you track volumes and how will you associate a dollar value to those conversions for ROI analysis?  

These are the types of questions that you should ask and answer before beginning your campaigns. 

Pro Tip

The ability to track opens and clicks has been available in email marketing forever. But now you can also track clicks in SMS, MMS, and WhatsApp if you use a hyperlink shortener like the one from  Twilio’s Messaging Engagement Suite. This unlocks a wealth of data such as granular A/B testing, tracking conversions to customer records, conducting marketing attribution to the appropriate channels, reporting on ROI, and more!

5. Optimize for costs 

By communicating on each of your customers preferred channels, you will be reducing spend on underperforming channels and increase your conversion rates across the board.

Imagine you’re sending 10,000 emails to a cohort that prefers messaging. You are paying for those emails, but they are being filtered to folders that are rarely checked which lowers your conversion rate. 

What if instead those 10,000 messages are sent via SMS or WhatsApp as preferred? Then your email costs decrease, your conversion rates go up, and so does your email ROI.

The next place to optimize for costs is by validating your database of marketing communication subscribers, starting with your email address list. The risk of invalid email addresses spans well beyond unnecessary costs. You could risk damaging your sending reputation, having your emails marked as  SPAM, or even blocking of your domain by email providers. Look to technologies to validate your email subscription list such as Twilio’s Email Address Validation API

Next, validate your database of SMS subscribers to ensure these phone numbers are able to receive your marketing communications. During a three-month evaluation of more than 40 million numbers submitted through Twilio Line Type Intelligence, 13.7% of these numbers were found to not support SMS.  

6. Optimize for deliverability

Deliverability of marketing communications will directly impact your conversion rates and ROI. Work with a reliable provider with the infrastructure necessary to scale and meet your current or future goals globally. 

Your provider should also share expert knowledge when it comes to increasing your marketing campaign success. For example, shortened hyperlinks in messages are often filtered by carriers unless they are structured correctly. And, legitimate voice phone numbers in the US are increasingly being labeled as spam, leading to reduced call answer rates and increased blocking of calls due to negative reputation. 

Finally, your provider should also provide transparent reporting that enables you to identify issues for immediate resolution during your multichannel marketing campaign distributions. For email, your deliverability data should be segmented by browsers and mailbox providers, such as Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Outlook. That way, you can focus on the issues where they reside rather than shutting down entire campaigns.

For messaging, look for deliverability data by channel (SMS, WhatsApp), carriers, and countries. Be sure to have filtered volumes and error codes available for triaging.   

7. Optimize for conversions

Many of the aforementioned items are required for conversion optimization such as communicating on preferred channels and appropriately segmenting your audiences.

To further optimize, ensure you personalize your communications. According to Twilio Segment’s 2023 State of Personalization Report: 

  • 80% of business leaders say consumers spend more (38% on average) when their experience is personalized.
  • Over half (56%) of consumers say they will become repeat buyers after a personalized experience 

Next, A/B test across your channels, content, calls to action (CTAs), landing pages, and more. To facilitate your A/B testing, ensure your provider supplies the data you need in the format you desire. For example, if you include hyperlinks in your messages and you have the click tracking data, you can take optimization to the next level.   

There are many other opportunities for conversion optimization that should be explored, including:

  • Having CTAs in your marketing communications that clearly and succinctly state what you need from your campaign recipients.
  • Communicating on the right days at the right times—don’t send an SMS in the middle of the night. 
  • Ensuring you have the right methodologies in place to support a tactic like quicker response times after a customer engagement to increase conversions.
  • Employing reengagement marketing such as retargeting or abandoned cart campaigns that typically have high conversion rates.
  • Keeping SMS marketing messages short or using the most recent style/template of emails that consumers respond to. 
  • Using local area codes or country codes to  increase conversions while ensuring that calls or messages come from the same number each time to boost familiarity and trust. 

8. Adhere to compliance and privacy requirements

Compliance requirements vary by region and phone number type, plus have frequent and unpredictable changes. Look to a reliable partner who provides the compliance information and guidance you need on an ongoing basis. 

A commonly known messaging requirement is to convey opt-In and opt-Out language appropriately, but there are many other channel requirements such as:

  • Application-to-person 10-digit long code number (A2P 10DLC) or toll-free verification requirements
  • Various ‘time-of-day’ sending requirements across Europe
  • SHAKEN/STIR U.S. protocol mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to combat the rise in unwanted robocalls and unlawful caller ID spoofing
  • Email guidelines such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Canadian Anti-SPAM Law (CASL) or CAN-SPAM

Pro Tip

Twilio’s Trust Center has taken the complexities of global telco regulations, phone number compliance, plus onboarding and created a platform that simplifies the process of engaging customers around the world effectively and compliantly.

Twilio also provides information, resources, and services to ensure continued success when addressing data protection compliance across geographies, volumes, and use cases.

In addition to receiving guidance from your provider, look to technology for help with adhering to compliance requirements. For example, Twilio’s Regulatory Compliance API allows you to view and react to regulations globally to avoid message blocking. Or, use Twilio’s Lookup Reassigned Number solution to confirm the phone numbers in your database still belong to the opt-in subscribers to protect from TCPA violations.

9. Track and measure performance across channels

It’s important to measure the performance of your multichannel marketing campaigns on a channel-by-channel basis and to use an “Effective Conversion Rate” method. Doing so will enable you to compare apples-to-apples and validate the ROI of each channel individually as well as the impact of your optimization efforts.

An Effective Conversion Rate is simply using the entire quantity of members in a specific campaign as the foundation before determining your conversion rate. You don’t measure based on delivered emails or SMS. You don’t measure based on those opened or those clicked within. You measure on the beginning number.

For example, imagine if you have 100,000 targets in a Black Friday email marketing campaign and 20 of them make a purchase. Your effective conversion rate would be 100,000 / 20 = 0.02%. 

This is a vastly different conversion rate than the common method of calculating email conversions based on only those that are opened which may look like this: 100,000 members with 19% opened for 19,000. The conversion rate in that scenario would be 19,000 / 20 = 3.8%. An important take-away is that the latter method could not be accurately compared against SMS marketing since ‘opens’ are not tracked.

When using an effective conversion rate, you can measure SMS vs. WhatsApp vs. email vs. voice channels. You can also calculate the increase in conversions when you optimize for deliverability or any other actions that your team takes and show the additional value you bring to the business. 

Pro Tip

Be prepared to evaluate your results across top line volumes and revenue gained as well as ROI. This is because ROI can be higher when costs are lower even though the particular campaign may bring in fewer conversions or top line revenue.

What are three keys to success for multichannel marketing?

1. Meet customers on their preferred channels

Enabling your customers to select their preferred channel for communications will provide a better customer experience, increase the likelihood of marketing conversions, and minimize costs by refraining from sending communications that will not be viewed. 

2. Personalize based on first-party data

By collecting first-party customer data you can effectively segment and optimize your targeted marketing campaigns.

3. Optimize campaigns for targeting, costs, deliverability, and conversions

With targeted, segmented audiences you can lower costs since you’re not spending as much on campaigns targeting disinterested audiences. By using each of your customer’s preferred channels, you’ll also increase conversions since they’re more likely to open and respond to your communications. Finally, by maximizing deliverability and validating your database of subscribers, you will optimize conversions in your campaigns.

About Twilio 

Twilio empowers marketers to create personalized, data-driven, compliant, multichannel marketing campaigns that are differentiated for increased conversions and customer lifetime value. 

With Twilio’s communication API’s, software, and professional services, businesses can integrate email, SMS, MMS, WhatsApp or Voice into their existing MarTech stack, measure and optimize marketing performance, and be prepared to iterate and adopt future technologies such as AI. 

Learn more about using Twilio for multichannel marketing by visiting our marketing and promotions webpage or taking a quick interactive tour.

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