Multi-channel marketing is now a must. Which channels you use and how you use them can make all the difference.

Take a minute to think about your typical day and how you interact with your devices. You likely check your email, browse several social media platforms, send and receive text messages and visit some websites. As you move from one to the other it might not seem like a lot, but when you take a step back and look at the big picture, you likely engage with countless individuals and businesses on numerous different digital channels throughout the course of any given day. And you likely use each channel in a different way and for different purposes.

Your customers are no different. So if your customers engage on different channels throughout the day and use those channels in different ways and for different purposes, how do you know which one is the right one for your business?

If that’s the question you’re asking, it’s time to change your thinking. Because you shouldn’t just be asking which one channel is right. Instead, you should be asking which channels, plural, are right for your business and how you should tailor your message and approach for each of those channels.

Let Your Customers Take the Lead on Channel Preference

We’ve come a long way from the days when Facebook was just for college students. Even then, there were plenty of social channels, but today the list seems to be never-ending. And the broader category of social media is just one of many digital channels around today — you also have email, video, blogs and the list goes on once again.

Against this backdrop, if you can’t just pick one channel on which to focus your marketing activities, how do you know which channels to pick? You certainly can’t pick them all, and you wouldn’t want to. The key is to identify where your customers are and to build a presence on those channels.

If you focus your efforts on a channel that none (or virtually none) of your customers or prospects use and you try to drive them there, your results will be lackluster. Think about it: Would you really want to create another profile on yet another social media network just to stay in touch with one company? Unless there are other compelling reasons, probably not. However, if you’re active on, let’s say Twitter, and that company has a profile there, then the barrier to entry to following and engaging with them on Twitter is no big deal. In other words, your customers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to multi-channel marketing, and your business needs to be an active participant on that ride.

Focus on the Right Channels for Your Business

Going where your customers are is an excellent start, but it will still probably leave you with a list of channels that’s much too long. While you absolutely want to market your business on more than one channel, you also want to be careful not to take on too many channels so that you stretch yourself too thin.

You should narrow down your list further by looking at what channels make the most sense for your business. For example, your customers might use Pinterest, but they might use it to save recipes or design ideas, not search for work-related interests. In that case, Pinterest probably doesn’t make sense for a B2B marketing message. A good rule of thumb here is to consider both where your customers expect to find you as well as which networks they’re using that could also be relevant to your business.

In general, the key is to select a handful of channels (there’s no hard and fast rule here, but consider the number of channels in light of the size of your business and customer base) and focus your efforts there to create a regular, active and engaging presence on each of those channels.

Build Your Campaigns Around a Multi-Channel Approach

Finally, you need to recognize the fact that each channel is different. Remember, we all use different channels for different purposes and in different ways. As a result, you need to tailor your messages and other activities to fit the nuances of each individual channel — one-size-fits-all has no place here!

In order to fulfill this initiative, it’s essential to consider how you will handle each channel in your portfolio at the start of each campaign, rather than adding this in at the backend. By building your campaigns around this multi-channel approach, you can ensure that your efforts in each area are targeted and relevant. On the flip side, making these activities an afterthought often becomes like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole (“Wait, how can we do a survey on LinkedIn?”), and it shows.

Multi-Channel Marketing Has Become Table Stakes

In today’s digital, always-on world, how and where your business connects with customers and prospects matters quite a lot. Multi-channel marketing has now become a must-have, and those businesses who are getting it right are reaping significant benefits. Although a strong, multi-channel marketing strategy that focuses on the right channels and the right activities for those channels takes time and effort, it’s an investment that more than pays off in terms of relationship-building, trust, brand recognition, engagement and, ultimately, customer experience.