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What is Omnichannel Marketing and Why do You Need It?

My car died last month. I went online to see what my local dealer had available. I filled out a form with my desired make, model, and year along with my contact info. For several weeks I received social media ads for available vehicles that met my criteria. The dealership mailed me a Car Buyers Tip Sheet to help me make a decision. One day, I got a phone call inviting me into the dealership. When I went, they had three cars that met my specs ready for me to test drive. The salesperson was friendly and knowledgeable but not pushy. They offered competitive financing options, so I drove my new car off the lot the same day.

My car-buying experience is a great example of omnichannel marketing. The dealership made it easy for me to see my options, educate myself, and connect with an expert. They had resources for me at every step of my decision-making process. The result is that I’m satisfied with my purchase. I would buy from the same dealer again, and I would recommend them to friends.


What is omnichannel marketing?

While “omnichannel” might sound like just another bit of marketing jargon, it’s actually a very simple concept: seamless customer experience. “Omni” means all. Omnichannel means you look at all the possible ways your audience interacts with your brand and you make sure everything works well together. It goes beyond your marketing department to include your sales team, customer service, and in-person events. The result of well-executed omnichannel marketing is long-term member loyalty and increased engagement with your association.


How is omnichannel different from multichannel marketing?

“Channel” is just another word for format or platform. Are you reaching people via email, social media, direct mail, or cold calling? These are potential channels for your marketing efforts. “Multichannel” means you’re using multiple formats and platforms to connect with your audience. Most associations today use multichannel marketing. What’s often missing, however, is a holistic approach that considers all the touchpoints along the entire customer journey—from awareness to consideration to decision and, eventually, long-term loyalty and deep engagement. That’s where omnichannel marketing comes in.


Two keys to omnichannel marketing

1. Give the people what they want.

The idea of a traditional sales funnel doesn’t quite apply to omnichannel marketing. “A” does not necessarily lead directly to “B” and then “C.” Omnichannel marketing recognizes that some people move from awareness to decision quickly because of an urgent need. Others might need extra information and support during a long consideration phase. Some people might visit the same channel more than once or skip others entirely. Omnichannel meets people where they are and helps them in whatever way they need.

2. Be consistent in everything you do.

To ensure a seamless experience along this winding omnichannel journey, you will need to ensure brand consistency at every turn. Your collateral should maintain visual continuity in your logo, colors, fonts, look, and feel. Your voice should be clear and consistent, whether in social media, email, or direct mail. Your sales team should be knowledgeable about your association, products, and current promotions. Additionally, your in-person events should include everything your marketing promises.


Case Study: American Specialty Toy Retailing Association

To help the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association promote their annual conference and tradeshow, we used a variety of formats, including direct mail, social media, digital ads, and email. To maximize these channels, we segmented ASTRA’s list into meaningful categories—nonmembers, sales reps, and store owners. Next we considered available brand assets and crafted additional infographics and videos to fill in the gaps. From there, we developed digital workflows based on segments, the assets, and ASTRA’s goals. Users determined next steps based on the actions they took.

Our efforts nearly doubled the number of first-time conference attendees. The last piece of the omnichannel puzzle was that ASTRA’s event delivered on all the promises we made in the marketing materials, which is sure to fuel repeat attendance next year.


Why do you need omnichannel marketing?

It’s all too easy to turn people off. If my car dealer called me in but didn’t have any cars in stock that met my specs, I might never have returned. If the salesperson was slick and impersonal, I might not have made a purchase. Even if I had an okay experience, I might not recommend the dealership to others or become a repeat customer. Omnichannel marketing is a way to continually engage and satisfy your base even if they’re not quite ready to join, attend, or make a purchase. It takes time, but the results are quality prospects and satisfied members with a high lifetime value.

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Best Practices for Digital Marketing that Boosts Engagement

I’m terrible at golf. A few years back, I bought a set of really nice golf clubs. They’re top of the line, with high-quality craftsmanship and the best materials. I was totally convinced they would enhance my performance. I’m still terrible at golf. Without knowing the proper techniques or how to fine tune my swing, I can’t get the most out of my clubs.

When it comes to digital marketing, you can pay a lot of money for platforms and tools in the hope that you’ll automatically see improved performance on your campaigns and increased engagement among your base. The trouble is, digital marketing is a little bit like my golf game. Having the right tools is a good start. But using proven best practices and fine-tuning your efforts are the only ways to achieve your full potential.


Follow these best practices to execute an effective digital marketing workflow that generates results and strengthens engagement.

What is a workflow?

A workflow is a defined communication strategy based on your goals, your audience’s needs, and the resources you have available for marketing. It’s an automated process defined by if/then statements. Workflows are effective at building engagement because they help you deliver timely, relevant messaging and useful information to build trust with your audience over time. They can include any combination of tools—email automation, digital ads, lead generation forms, landing pages, content, and more.


Best practices for digital ads

Before you ever craft a digital ad, you’ll first need to establish your campaign goals. Do you want to increase event attendance? Find program participants? Boost web traffic or social media interactions? From there, you’ll need to look at your audience. What are their pain points and how will your programs or events solve them? No matter which platform you use—Facebook, LinkedIn, web retargeting, etc.—a good digital ad has an engaging headline and an eye-catching image. Its look and feel match the rest of your branding. It contains a clear, relevant offer and a simple call to action.

Some platforms offer ads with lead generation forms. These are automatically populated with a user’s name and email address. All the user needs to do is click “Submit” to receive your offer and opt-in to your list. To get the most out of your lead gen forms, keep them short and to the point. Don’t use too many form fields—first and last name, email address, and one additional qualifier are enough.

For either type of digital ad, you should determine what a good cost per lead is before you launch. That way, you can gauge performance and make adjustments along the way.


Best practices for landing pages

The number one best practice for landing pages is to use them. Never send traffic from your digital ads to your homepage. Make sure your landing page relates directly to what your ad is promoting. Use the same headline as your ad if possible, to avoid any confusion. The landing page’s look and feel should also match your ad and the rest of your branding. Keep the messaging short and simple, using bullet points to simplify your copy. Include a real testimonial to add authenticity to your offer. Don’t forget a clear call to action so people know what to do.


Best practices for email drip campaigns

Similar to digital ads, you should establish your campaign goals before you begin to craft an email. Keep your message short and simple here as well, and stick to one main idea to avoid confusing your audience. Engagement campaigns should focus on how your audience will benefit from interacting with your organization. Personalize the message using any available data, such as purchase history or past behaviors. Don’t forget to make an offer and include a clear call to action. Take time to craft a specific subject line that piques curiosity, promises a benefit, or excites your audience. Consider A/B testing your subject lines to see what resonates best.


Best practices for digital marketing overall

  • Be eye catching.
  • Keep your message clear and simple.
  • Personalize and humanize your message.
  • Include an offer and call to action.
  • Align look and feel with the rest of your branding.
  • Track performance and make changes if needed.

Case Study: Ending the Silence

The National Alliance on Mental Illness works to end the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. As part of this mission, NAMI created Ending the Silence, a program in which young people share their mental health stories with other youth. NAMI asked us to help find a steady supply of presenters for the program. We created a workflow that included a combination of digital ads, landing pages, and emails to tell human-focused stories and inspire young people to sign up to participate. Our efforts generated 500 leads, exceeding NAMI’s goal of 150.


Free Engagement Workflow

Throwing lots of money at your digital marketing might get you broader reach or access to more tools. But if you don’t follow proven best practices, chances are you’re missing out on leads and conversions. While you’re fine-tuning your digital marketing golf swing, download this free Engagement Workflow Template to get started on the path to better engagement and better ROI.

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9 Content Marketing Problems and How to Fix Them

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9 Content Marketing Problems and How to Fix Them

Angelo is a bus driver for a small tour company in Ecuador. Quite often the tourists’ breakfast comes with a side of papaya. Many of the tourists don’t like papaya, so they give it to Angelo, who says “thank you” and eats it. This goes on for years. More tourists, more papaya for Angelo. One day, someone says: “Wow, Angelo, you must really like papaya!” He finally confesses that he hates papaya. He only eats it to be polite to all the tourists who give him their fruit.

Your marketing content is a little bit like papaya. Too often there’s a disconnect between what your association provides and the resources your audience members actually want. If your content marketing isn’t performing the way you’d like, you may need to fix one or more of these common problems.


1. You don’t have a strategy.

If you’re pumping out lots of content without a plan, chances are some of your efforts are going to waste. Take time to craft a strategy based on your goals, resources, and budget in addition to your audience’s needs and wants.


2. Your content isn’t relevant.

No one wants their time wasted. Make sure you’re giving your audience content they can actually put to use. Segmenting your list into two or three groups and tailoring content accordingly can help you increase relevancy and results.


3. You need to adjust your frequency.

You can’t just bombard people. Chances are your members and prospects get too many emails and too many digital ads. Look at your association’s communications calendar, and schedule your promotions when they have the least competition from other messages.


4. People don’t trust you.

You have to earn people’s attention and trust. Consider giving away content with no strings attached initially. Eventually you can ask for an email address for follow-up communications. If your ad or landing page promises a solution, your content better deliver.


5. You don’t have a cause.

People need to know why they should care about your content, your mission, your organization, and your offerings. They need a cause to rally around. Ask yourself why your organization exists. Then make sure it’s clearly communicated in your marketing messages.


6. You forgot to include emotions.

Even if your members are technical experts or high-level professionals, they still need to be emotionally compelled to take action. Ensure your content contains a balance of logic, credibility, and—above all—emotion.


7. You need to adjust your format.

Don’t forget there are dozens of potential formats for content—from podcasts to infographic, reports, quizzes, checklists, and memes. Track engagement with your campaigns to learn which formats resonate best. Experiment with long vs. short formats, visual vs. text, etc.


8. Your audience is confused.

If people are opening your emails or clicking on your ads but not converting, it could be a sign that they’re getting lost along the way. Make it easy for them to claim your content by including clear call to action buttons or using prepopulated lead gen forms on your digital ads.


9. Your voice is impersonal.

People connect with other people better than with organizations. Communicate in a human, conversational tone to get the most out of your content marketing.


Case Study:

The National Association of Manufacturers asked us to help promote their Manufacturers Marketplace product. The challenge was that their target audience already received too many emails each day. We created a content strategy that included videos, infographics, and e-books. To personalize the content and increase relevancy, we created personas for key audience segments. Landing pages and prepopulated lead gen forms made it easy for people to take action. Our efforts increased leads for Manufacturers Marketplace by 600% and doubled the amount of traffic to the product’s web page.

Before you feed your audience more papaya, take some time to tune up your content marketing. Fixing even one or two of these common problems can dramatically improve your results.

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