What do Apple, Starbucks, Disney, Under Armour, and Bank of America have in common? They all make hundreds of millions of dollars of sales while offering an incredible user experience due to multi-channel marketing.
Today, our goal is to take you through how these companies are succeeding with multi-channel marketing.
But that’s not all: We’re also going to highlight the important takeaways from their multi-channel strategy, and give you tips that you can apply to your own ecommerce store and marketing strategy.
What Is Multi-Channel Marketing?
Marketing channel strategy refers to how products are transferred from retailer to consumer. Multi-channel marketing means you’re leveraging multiple channels, particularly the channels that your customers use the most. In practice, it’s about meeting your audience where they live whether that’s on social media, a mobile app, in their email inboxes, over SMS, or on the phone.
Apple: Customer Service And Education
Apple is considered a “click-and-mortar” retailer which means Apple operates both physical and online stores. However, the situation with Apple’s physical retail stores is unique. Rather than being designed for sales, Apple Stores are primarily designed to complement Apple’s ecommerce business which accounts for the majority of total sales.
In this way, Apple’s physical stores function as customer touchpoints that support the overall Apple experience. Since the physical stores aren’t necessarily focused on retail, customers can visit Apple Stores without feeling like they need to make purchases. And with customers making more frequent trips to physical stores, Apple is able to drive more brand immersion.
Beyond advertising and using retail stores for customer support, Apple has focused on developing services to build more demand for Apple hardware while providing additional revenue streams. Prime examples include Apple News+, a premium news subscription service available only on Apple hardware, and Apple TV+, a Netflix-esque streaming service that will primarily be available on Apple hardware.
Also of note, Apple’s multi-channel marketing strategy is built around specific branding guidelines. This allows Apple to maintain a consistent visual style across all marketing materials in addition to Apple’s website, apps, services, and retail stores. Even Apple’s computing devices and other hardware share elements of a common design language. This does a lot to give consumers a very “Apple” experience no matter which sales channel is delivering it.
How to Replicate It
Apple maintains an ecosystem of many customer touchpoints from hardware to software and services to platforms. Simply put, Apple saturates its consumers’ lives with these touchpoints. One of the key takeaways is to create multiple direct, continuous links between your company and your audience, especially with services and subscriptions. This will help a business turn occasional customer interactions via various channels into ongoing relationships.
Beyond building relationships with the audience via customer touchpoints, Apple is a poster company for branding. Anything associated with the brand — from ads to physical retail stores, shares a consistent design language and even thematic motifs. This consistency is a necessity for multi-channel marketing.
Starbucks: Driving Customer Loyalty
Nearly everything surrounding Starbucks’ customer experience has been carefully designed to encourage patrons to continue visiting Starbucks. A case in point is Starbucks Rewards which consistently ranks as one of the best for customer loyalty rewards programs.
With the program, customers earn points or “Stars” with every purchase. The Stars accumulate to unlock free drinks and food. Additionally, the accumulation of Stars unlocks higher tiers of the Starbucks Rewards program. Each tier comes with even more perks like free refills and, eventually, the Starbucks Gold Card. Once unlocked, the Gold Card — which is actually just a gift card with the customer’s name on it — can be managed and reloaded via the company’s primary customer touchpoints: the Starbucks website, the Starbucks app, over the phone, or at any Starbucks location.
Then, the card can be “uploaded” into the customer’s mobile device, allowing them to pay from their device without the physical reward card. This meets consumers where they are – on their phones. By incentivizing reward program customers to have the app on their phones for easy payments, Starbucks makes it possible to share coupons, discounts and limited-time offers with its most loyal customers.
How to Replicate It
The focal point of Starbucks’ multi-channel marketing strategy is its loyalty rewards program. Due to the strength of the perks, those who use Starbucks Rewards tend to choose Starbucks over any competing coffee shop. This incentive has allowed Starbucks to cultivate fierce loyalty among its reward customers. They discover their favorite drinks and go-to snacks while earning rewards, making them almost averse to competitors that (a) don’t offer their favorite items and (b) won’t help them reach the next tier of rewards.
To implement a similar strategy for an ecommerce store, create a customer loyalty program that incentivizes more frequent purchases. The perks of the program should be both attainable and aspirational.
Disney: Multi-Device Optimization
Visit the Disney website on any device and you’ll have a great experience. This is partly because of the responsive web design. Disney’s site can automatically adjust to optimally fit whatever device you’re currently using. However, Disney’s marketing optimizations go well beyond just making sure its website looks good on any screen size.
The Disney website provides quick, easy access to all of the company’s verticals, including the shopDisney online store, Disney’s Vacation Planner, and access to a vast catalog of beloved entertainment. Most importantly, all these functions and sites (even the Vacation Planner) are fully functional on any device.
The Vacation Planner is surely one of the site’s most impressive elements, making it very easy to plan a trip to Disney’s parks and attractions. Users are taken step by step through the entire process: selecting a park (or multiple parks), where you want to stay, and building the trip itinerary with My Disney Experience.
The latter gives you the ability to book shows, find special events, and schedule a FastPass for your favorite rides. In other words, everything having to do with a trip to Disney World from booking to scheduling and managing your itinerary is accessible via the website or mobile app.
You can bet that the Disney Plus streaming service, launching in November 2019 as the exclusive home for Disney content, will increasingly provide touchpoints for selling experiences as well.
How to Replicate It
Start with a great website. Disney’s website is basically the hub of its digital empire. It provides easy access to the company’s vacation destinations, online shops, and entertainment on any device you could be using.
For ecommerce businesses, a lot of this can be achieved with responsive web design and multi-device optimization that allow your users to interact with your brand no matter what devices they’re using.
Besides a strong website, everything your site offers — from an online store to subscriptions, services, etc. — needs to be user-friendly and reliable. Disney’s marketing channel strategy is successful largely because its digital channels are so easy to access and use. If customers have trouble buying from you, they’ll simply find other retailers. Like many top brands, Disney uses WordPress as the platform for their multi-channel marketing efforts.
Under Armour: Personalities and Personalization
This well-known athletic wear company is another example of effective multi-channel marketing. More specifically, Under Armour is exemplary when it comes to user experience and personalization.
Much of Under Armour’s social media content and marketing material features celebrity endorsements. The list of Hollywood actors and professional athletes featured in Under Armour marketing includes Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, NFL quarterback Tom Brady, and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. With A-list celebrities and athletes on display, Under Armour quickly grabs the viewer’s attention.
In 2015, Under Armour bought the MyFitnessPal app, giving the company another channel to reach its audience. This acquisition made Under Armour the number one company for fitness tracking while substantially increasing Under Armour’s digital footprint.
Another impressive component of Under Armour’s multi-channel marketing is the Under Armour app, commonly called the “UA Shop.” Under Armour’s retail app is designed around personalization and lifestyle-based recommendations. Most consumers crave a more personal shopping experience, but research shows that only 25 percent feel they actually get it. For this reason, offering a more personal retail experience gives Under Armour a huge advantage (and is why the app is rated so highly).
How to Replicate It
There’s a lot of practical, actionable strategies that you can learn from Under Armour’s multi-channel marketing strategy. Of course, most ecommerce startups and small businesses won’t have access to celebrities, nor the capital required to get their endorsements. However, influencer marketing is certainly accessible for most smaller ecommerce stores.
Another feature of Under Armour’s marketing that you could adopt is the company’s cross-platform user experience. In Under Armour’s case, the company has worked hard to build a digital presence for products that aren’t digital, and in fact, exist solely in the real world.
Similarly, an ecommerce business can look into ways of building stronger user experiences across different platforms and sales channels. Just adding an element of customization or personalization to the online buying experience can make a huge difference.
Bank of America: Seamless Digital Experiences
Bank of America has raised the bar when it comes to multi-channel marketing. Much of the financier’s marketing efforts could even be classified as omnichannel marketing since the company offers account management functionality through its various channels and customer touchpoints. From making appointments to depositing checks, nearly everything can be done on the website, in the mobile app, or in a physical location. In other words, it’s a seamless, unified customer experience.
In addition to offering a unified customer experience, Bank of America uses audience data and insight for up-selling. Basically, the company considers the services that a customer is already using and refers to historical data to see what other services that person has used. Once the complimentary services have been identified, Bank of America can begin offering and marketing those services to the customer via the channels he or she is using.
How to Replicate It
You don’t have to be a bank or financial company to implement a multi-channel marketing strategy like Bank of America’s. Basically, it comes down to fully leveraging your marketing channels and leveraging audience data.
On the channel side, you can follow Bank of America’s example by offering your audience similar experiences across all your channels. For example, instead of funneling your audience to your website to make purchases, you could give them the ability to make quick, easy purchases via other platforms, particularly social networks like Facebook and Instagram. This makes ecommerce non-interruptive, meaning that your audience can make purchases from your store without having to leave the platform they were using. Social purchasing may be the future of ecommerce.
Additionally, there is immense value in historical audience data. You can use data collected from past customer interactions in many valuable ways, but it’s particularly useful for suggesting add-on products and up-selling.
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