Friday, November 21, 2014

Improving Multi-Channel Outcomes in Online Marketing

Companies don’t always exist exclusively in the real or virtual world and neither should their marketing campaigns. Some consumers prefer buying products through physical channels while others prefer online channels. Companies find themselves managing the complexity of both broad channels to improve sales. These sales may not be based in a single marketing channel and may be more associated with the use of multiple marketing channels working together.

An article in the Journal of Marketing Research offers greater insight into cross-channel effects on traditional, online display and paid search advertising. They found that a single marketing channel cannot account for the total purchase rate of products/services (Dinner, Van Heerde, & Neslin, 2014).

Consumers may have a particular on or off line preference for purchasing but regularly use the Internet to search out and research their chosen items. The totality of both online and offline purchases is a combination of using different marketing channels and should be measured as such.

Think about how a consumer processes information. They see or hear about a product that relates to their self-image and develop an internal need for that product. If the product has value they may search out its benefits and detractors online. When a decision has been made they will either purchase online or from a ground store.

In today’s marketing world it is important not to evaluate marketing effectiveness in a silo. Even though the success of each marketing channel should be considered like the success of each purchasing channel it is still important to consider the total marketing effectiveness.

Different forms of exposure from multiple events create the total impression and experience for the consumer. Sometimes it may take multiple exposures from varying channels to grab their selective attention and finally make a decision to purchase.

Marketing is more than simply having customers see images and impressions on a webpage. There is a lot of competition out there in the cyberspace and the physical world that leads to advertising overload. A single marketing channel is unlikely to draw significant interest and improve market position.

To improve upon exposure companies will often use paid search positions. As consumers search out information on a product the paid search engine sites come up first. Usually it is the home company that reaches the top based search algorithms. In many cases there are multiple companies competing for the top position.

Paid search positions have less effect than originally thought. No one is sure why this is the case other than the click-thru rates decrease over time making the marketing method less effective. Mitigating factors could include the search engines, competition within specific industries, and the sensitization to these ads.

As the different channels work together it was found that they push potential customers into certain purchasing behaviors. Using multiple channels to direct customers to successful purchasing channels may be beneficial for raising the overall conversion rate. Channels then become augmentation and support for preferred channels that work the best.

Dinner, I., Van Heerde, H. & Neslin, S. (2014). Driving online and offline sales: the cross-channel effects of traditional, online display, and paid search advertising. Journal of Marketing Research, 51 (5).

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