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Separating the ‘what’ from the ‘how’ in digital marketing

Marketers that align messages with the right communication platforms and take a multichannel approach to campaign strategy can ensure that their content will reach targeted audiences.

All too often, when I meet with marketers, I find out they are planning a new campaign and making a huge assumption that they are going to solely focus on email to get their message out. If I have done my job in this column, then you will step back and no longer make that assumption.

There are lots of ways to get your message out there. Taking time to assess the right channel for each message could pay off handsomely with improved engagement and results.

Remember when you were in elementary school and while learning new vocabulary you had to learn to say the words, write them down, use them in a sentence, and even work them into a story?

Although we really didn’t know it at the time, these multichannel approaches really helped us learn the material – not just for the weekly spelling test, but (hopefully) for a lifetime.

Well, the same applies with campaign offers and content: the more methods and approaches that are taken with marketing tactics, the more memorable campaigns will be.

If you’re launching a new campaign, a multichannel approach that integrates snail mail, SMS messages, infographic-based ads, calls from reps, social posts, a Web-based diagnostic tool, a call center (outbound or inbound) – and yes – also a few emails, will reinforce your offers and appeal to every learning style.

What are your overall campaign objectives, and who is your target audience?

The first step in any campaign plan should be to determine your overall objectives and target audience specifications.

  • Which personas make up your core audience?
  • What roles make up the other segments that you’d like to influence?
  • What is your audience’s current state of mind?
  • Do they already know about your company, product, or solution – or are you starting the awareness process from scratch?
  • What is your time frame for executing the campaign?
  • How will you measure activity, influence, and results?

An engagement scoring model can help you automatically assign points to track activity and influence, giving you a real-time view of your progress.

What content will you use?

Build a content matrix to name all the content you’ll need for each persona and each stage in the customer journey. Note what photograph, design, or other assets you will need, so you can give your creative team a head start on their own strategy and production work.

So often we leave those elements to the last minute, causing our digital agency or in-house creative teams huge amounts of stress, and I have rarely seen stressful creative teams perform at their best.

Will you use in-house or external writing talent?

Now is the time to tee them up for your project. Know that if you give your creative team free reign to choose the channel that might work best, they might have some great ideas about the optimal channel on which to deploy what they have created.

Make sure you are collecting other channel information. You might realize that SMS would be a fantastic way to reach your audience, but if you don’t have many mobile numbers it will be hard to leverage that channel – the same goes for physical mailing addresses.

A great way to make progress is to enlist your call center representatives to help you complete your audience’s profiles. If you have your call center integrated with your digital marketing platform, then any cell phone numbers and snail mail addresses should port over to your digital platform.


Only when you have your campaign targets and objectives, key personas, content framework, and a creative strategy in place, should you begin to think about which channel is best for each tactic. Of course a few will be email, but by adding in other approaches you’ll create a richer experience for your clients and target audience.

by Ellen Valentine