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Benefits of Expanding Cross-Channel Beyond Email

Moving Beyond Email: 5 Channels to Incorporate Into Your Marketing Strategy

This updated post was originally published by Iterable and published on November 2, 2017.
Most marketers already know that email marketing is a powerful force for connecting with consumers. According to our friends at SparkPost, email is one of the most effective marketing channels, achieving an average ROI of $44 for every dollar spent—up from $38 when this post was originally published.
Problem is, everyone’s investing heavily in email—and it’s getting harder and harder to stand out from all the noise. Research predicts that by 2025, over 376 billion emails will be sent and received globally every single day. As one marketer among many vying for space in your ideal customer’s inbox, how can you ensure that your messages don’t go unread?
Today’s marketing leaders are moving towards a highly integrated approach to build an immersive, cross-channel experience: Embrace email marketing, of course, but don’t stop there. Build a marketing program that engages with your audience with personalized messaging across all of the communication channels they use, including their physical mailboxes, mobile devices, and more.
In fact, Forrester just released the results of its Q2 2023 B2C Marketing CMO Pulse Survey, and the number-one priority for U.S. B2C marketing executives was evaluating whether they’re using the right channels to target audiences. 
By mapping your subscribers’ engagement across all the marketing channels at your disposal, you’ll have a clear sense of their relationship with your brand, enabling your team to build meaningful connections and deliver joyous cross-channel experiences.
So which marketing channels can be leveraged to complement email? Consider incorporating these five into your next campaign.

1. SMS Marketing

While plenty of emails in your audience’s inboxes go deleted, nearly all (98 percent) of SMS messages are opened within minutes of being received. And while consumers might be texting to finalize dinner plans, globally, 47 percent prefer native SMS when communicating with brands.
Great for: Timely, high-importance messages. Consider SMS for sending updates on an order status, alerts when a package is out for delivery, or a notification for a special flash sale.
Best practices: Use SMS in moderation, lest you end up a blocked number. Make sure to implement send time optimization and frequency capping to optimize when and how often to text your subscribers. Moreover, the best cross-channel messaging is aligned across platforms, but not repeated. Nobody wants to see the exact same message on every device.

2. Mobile Push Notifications and Embedded Messages

Smartphones are essential to daily life for most people around the world. Globally, the average consumer now spends over 5 hours per day using mobile apps, and mobile commerce in the U.S. is expected to account for 43 percent of all retail e-commerce.
A highly optimized mobile experience in your app and beyond is crucial to maintain engagement with your audience as they go through their daily routines—during their commute, while at work, while out with friends, or wherever they may be. 
Embracing a mobile-optimized web experience today is a must, but brands can build loyalty and expand their mobile capabilities by offering an app as well. With a mobile app, you can engage users through push notifications and embedded in-app messages.
Great for: Mobile apps are ideal for crowdsourcing feedback and creating conversations among your fans. And, of course, you’ll want to make it as simple as possible for your audience to purchase a product. Create a seamless online shopping cart experience that retains stored credit card data, past orders, and saved wishlist items.
Best practices: Use push notifications to encourage your customers to come back to your app over and over again. These can be used to promote a sale, spotlight a leaderboard winner, or encourage your audience to check out a new feature or video within the app. Then tie in their engagement behavior via other channels with embedded messages to give them a seamless cross-channel experience that feels natural, but also helps your team visualize how in-app marketing can increase sales through desktop or in-store purchases.

3. Web Push Notifications

Don’t forget about the desktop experience, either. Time spent on websites still favors desktops about 56 percent of the time. There’s a good chance your customers switch over to a shopping site several times a day—and that provides another opportunity to build a connection. With web push notifications, you can send alerts to a user’s browser (either on desktop or mobile) whenever you have something to share.
Great for: Web push notifications should be used sparingly, for high-value, timely messages. Like SMS messages, consider using them for special limited-time promotional discounts, order updates, and new product alerts.
Best practices: Focus on building personalized notifications that tie into your subscribers’ browsing history so that you’ll keep them engaged. For instance, if a segment of your audience has previously bought shoes from your site, you can send those subscribers a web push notification when you’ve added a new shoe brand to your inventory.

4. Direct Mail

Cross-channel marketing doesn’t always have to be digital. Way back in 1888, Sears Roebuck started sending catalogs to farmers in the heartland so they could explore the company’s range of tractors and farm gear at their kitchen tables.
While direct mail’s gotten a little glossier in the hundred-plus years since, it’s no less effective: a study by Harvard Business Review found that print catalogs increased sales by 28% and yielded a direct ROI of 600%. With all the clutter in our virtual inboxes, it’s still a lot easier to grab our attention with compelling messages in our real ones.
Great for: With the added cost of printing and shipping, direct mail works best for your biggest promotional events, such as holidays or semi annual sales, as well as key points along the customer journey, like inciting a first purchase or converting to a premium subscription.
Best practices: One of the key problems with direct mail is the lack of accountability—you know how many mailers you’ve sent out, but how many subscribers actually read them or made a purchase? Build in tools to help you attribute sales, such as including a promo code in the catalog or using a QR code to access a special deal via mobile phone. 

5. Connected TV (OTT)

Mobile channels and direct mail have been longstanding channels in a marketer’s toolbelt, but these days, you can reach users on all kinds of devices—including their TV. For media and entertainment companies, marketing via connected TV and OTT streaming platforms, such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Apple TV. Of those three, Roku has the highest market penetration, with approximately 25 percent adoption among consumers who own an internet-enabled video streaming media device.
Great for: For brands that want to keep TV watchers informed, Roku messaging works well when sending alerts when new episodes of their favorite shows are available, recommending content based on watch history, and promoting upcoming events, like a live dancing competition.
Best practices: When juggling in-app messaging to mobile apps, web browsers, and connected TV devices like Roku, you can send campaigns to all of these destinations, but make sure users are prevented from seeing the same message in more than one place. 
When designing the content of your Roku message, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
  • Images have no size limit, but for best results, stick to 540×304 pixels and a 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Titles are restricted to the 100-character limit, but custom fonts and background colors can be used
  • Up to two buttons can be added with deep links to the part of the app where you want to send users when they click


Moving From Email to Cross-Channel Marketing

Email marketing is essential, but the best brands will look beyond a single channel to identify the clearest paths to engagement and strengthen brand loyalty.
Every brand needs to find the right marketing mix by testing, iterating, and constantly optimizing. Pay attention to who your customers are and how they choose to engage with you: What platforms do they like to use, how often, and when? When they click on a link or buy a product, what can you share with them that’s relevant to their specific interests?
With a holistic, cross-channel approach that focuses on building highly relevant, behavioral-based messaging, you can more effectively meet your customers’ needs and treat them each like the unique individuals they are.
Want to learn more about moving beyond email? Download our Mobile Marketing Lookbook of Lifecycle Campaigns for best practices when it comes to captivating your customers on the go.
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