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What is Channel Optimization?

Channel optimization refers to techniques used to increase key performance indicators (KPIs) across all of your marketing channels. As you build your channel optimization strategy, you’ll test a number of variables in your campaigns to determine which ones are most successful, then scale those across the program.

The marketing channels used may vary based on your business case, but often include a combination of organic and paid channels, as well as digital and offline media. Channel optimization strategy may focus on a single channel, but it’s also possible to develop comprehensive cross-channel optimization strategies that engage the customer across multiple channels throughout the buyer’s journey.

In this article, we’ll look at what channel optimization is, and how to get started.

Types of Marketing Channels

First, consider what marketing channels make sense for your brand to use. You’ll likely use a mix of different mediums to reach your prospects and customers, and every brand will need to experiment to find the right mix of marketing channels to successfully engage their particular audience at the individual level.

Some of the most common marketing channels include:

  • SMS marketing: When your customers opt in for text messaging, you can use SMS as a channel to send offers and engage with your customers on an ongoing basis.
  • In-app promotions: If your customers have downloaded your mobile app, you can target them with custom offers and promotions based on past behavior, and even based on their geographic location.
  • Email marketing: This may include email newsletters and/or promotional emails.
  • Organic search: This might include SEO-optimized blog content and landing pages.
  • Paid search: Paid search ads across Google, Bing, and other search engines let you advertise your keywords directly on search results pages.
  • Social media: Social media marketing can include both paid advertising, and organic social media content sharing, and will involve a different mix of platforms depending on your brand. Some of the most common platforms include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Programmatic display and retargeting: In programmatic display and retargeting, potential customers are targeted across publishers’ platforms based on set criteria. Once they’ve clicked on an ad or a specific URL, they can be retargeted with other sequenced ads in the same retargeting campaign depending on the actions they take.
  • Direct mail: Consider sending postcards and other types of direct mail with promotional offers included. While direct mail is traditionally harder to track, response rates can be measured by including a QR code or special code to track the conversion to the campaign.

Channel optimization can help you understand how your customers are engaging with your brand. Learning their communication preferences will help you determine the most successful channels for reaching them. By testing out a variety of channels and measuring your KPIs, you can decide which channels to prioritize.

Single Channel v. Cross-Channel Optimization

As you develop campaigns across all of these channels, how can you ensure you’re using your marketing budget wisely? That’s where a channel optimization strategy comes into play.

If you’re focusing on a single channel optimization strategy, you’re only tracking your performance across one channel while leaving all of the other channels the same.

For example, you might look for ways to optimize your marketing strategy across an email marketing campaign. You’d do this by testing out different variables in your campaigns, including audience segmentation, ad creative subject lines and copy, and send times. Then, you can chart trends in KPIs such as impressions, click-throughs and conversions. As you see your KPIs improve on certain variations, continue to make tweaks to optimize the campaigns even more.

A cross-channel optimization strategy, in contrast, focuses on building a connected sequence of events across multiple channels to optimize your customer engagement and conversion rates. While it’s still important to find ways to optimize your success within each channel, by building a comprehensive optimization strategy across all of your channels, you’re far more likely to build a sustained and highly engaged customer base. A cross-channel marketing strategy retains 89% of customers on average, as compared to only 33% for companies with weak cross-channel customer engagement. Cross-channel marketing also results in a 30% higher lifetime customer value.

To optimize your cross-channel marketing strategy, start by building a sequence of events, also known as your customer lifecycle, for customers that are triggered by specific actions.

For instance, a new customer providing their email address through a form could trigger a welcome series, which might include a series of email messages, an SMS message and targeted programmatic ads, with the goal being to get the customer to make their first purchase.

Experiment with both your workflow and your messaging to see what drives the highest response rate. Then you can build highly personalized and segmented campaigns to ensure that you’re developing the right campaign for each individual customer.

For example, you can segment your offers based on the customer’s previous behavior. If you know what product pages they’ve visited, you can showcase those products, and similar ones, in the offers that you send them, increasing their likelihood of making a future purchase.

You can optimize your strategy based on factors such as geographic location, occupation, purchasing preferences (whether shared directly or from external data) or device preferences, to name a few. For instance, as you track open rates over time and see that a certain group of customers never opens your emails but often clicks SMS links, you can optimize your campaigns to focus exclusively on mobile channels such as SMS, push notifications, and in-app messages, and track the difference in engagement and conversion rate.

Cross-Channel Optimization with Iterable

Iterable is a cross-channel marketing platform that makes it easy to set up and scale multi-channel marketing campaigns, measure their impact with sophisticated analytics, and optimize your campaigns to ensure that you’re continually building on your successes.

With Iterable, you can use an easy drag-and-drop campaign builder to set up your marketing segments based on specific events or triggers, and develop a sequence of actions based on each user’s unique behaviors. The platform focuses on the products, channels and types of messaging that best resonates with each user based on behavioral data. This allows you to develop highly personalized marketing campaigns that are optimized for each individual user’s customer journey, featuring the content they’re interested in and using the channels where they’re most likely to engage. By building personalized multi-channel marketing campaigns at scale, you’ll be able to drive engagement, increase customer satisfaction and increase customer lifetime value (LTV) for your brand.


Iterable is a cross-channel marketing platform that powers unified customer experiences and empowers marketers to create, optimize and measure relevant interactions and experiences customers love. Leading brands, like Cinemark, DoorDash, Calm, Madison Reed, and Box, choose Iterable to power world-class customer experiences throughout the entire lifecycle. Discover our growth marketing solutions for personalization, increasing customer engagement, and more. Discover our platform and schedule a demo today.