Cross-channel marketing. This phrase is on the minds of many as marketing moves away from the massive “pushes” of the past and toward a more customer-centric approach. Experian’s 2014 Digital Marketer Report showed that 80% of marketers worldwide plan to run cross-channel marketing campaigns in 2014 (Tweet this!). But what is cross-channel marketing, and how can it help you more efficiently reach voters, donors, and volunteers?

Novelty No More

Cross-channel marketing isn’t so much a revolutionary strategy as it is a response to the technological revolution already occurring in all of our lives. Mobile advertising alone has completely changed the game, with Americans spending an average 2.5 hours each day on their smartphones and tablets. 1 in 7 people worldwide now use smartphones, and 1 in 4 online searches are conducted on mobile devices.

This changing technological landscape has, in turn, changed audiences’ expectations. Whereas dynamic content was once a pleasant surprise, it is now an expected convenience:

“Today, [a] customer expects to seamlessly navigate across a growing array of channels and be met at every step of the way with messaging and offers tailored to his or her unique relationship with that brand. Simply put, the customer expects convenience.

—Experian 2014

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Sewing Up the Seams

The only way to offer that desired seamless experience is to unify marketing across multiple channels and devices, creating a cross-channel or omni-channel experience. It’s important to note that cross-channel is not the same as multi-channel—in fact, multi-channel is merely a part of the cross-channel campaign:

“Multi-channel is an operational view—how you allow the customer to complete transactions in each channel. Omni-channel, however, is viewing the experience through the eyes of your customer, orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent … Simply put, omni-channel is multi-channel done right!”

—John Bowden (Marketo Blog)

In short, every facet of the campaign should feel consistent and complimentary across every device—as if coming from a single, recognizable voice. That’s a tall order!

The Customer-Centric Campaign

It’s obvious why this approach is important to the retail customer, but is this lofty marketing ideal really beneficial to the average political campaign? Unequivocally, yes. To reach the digital voter, you must THINK like the digital voter. That voter lives in the same hyper-connected, digital world as the retail customer, and thus has the same expectations for messaging. In a 2013 article on ending the political “turf war,” Wayne Johnson voiced the need this way:

“In retail marketing … there must be a continuity of message and experience.  It’s no less true for a campaign.  While we, of course, target different voter segments, there still needs to be an integrated approach to messaging, as well as messengers, because every voter is getting information about our campaign from more than one source.”

—Wayne Johnson

Next Steps

Cross-channel marketing is the common thread that runs throughout 2014’s top political advertising best practices. DMPs, audience targeting, and the like all do well separately, but it’s when they’re brought together under a single strategy that they really shine. Here are some next steps to help you in integrating your own campaign efforts across multiple channels:

1. Unify the data with a data management platform (DMP).

2. Segment your audience for targeting across multiple devices.

3. Map out what messaging should reach voters at each stage of the campaign.

4. Listen and respond on appropriate channels.

5. Measure everything and optimize accordingly.

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