There’s a plagued philosophy spreading through the minds of Internet Marketing clients worldwide. It generally derives from a need to save money, but it’s more than likely staggering the progression of their business that they’ve worked so hard to grow. This plagued philosophy is the idea you can successfully compete with one marketing channel in today’s business environment.
Perhaps this mindset also comes from the fact that, 10 years ago, you could compete heavily with one marketing channel, primarily by using black hat methods. Fortunately, tactics like Link Farming no longer allow people to catapult to the top of a channel while squandering the efforts of the companies who were creating a truly positive web experience.
But why should everyone utilize multiple channels? For one, a multi-channel approach gives you a safety net in case a channel collapses (such as in the case of manual link penalties destroying organic rankings). The main benefit, however, is that each channel you add strengthens the channels around it.
For the sake of simplicity, we’ll just focus on four channels: social, organic, PPC and off-site. The reason I’m clumping all off-site channels into one is because they all have similar effects when transferring from offline to online.
With that said, let’s take a look at the direct benefits from channel to channel.
Social and Organic
This one’s a bit more obvious. Social is said to be one of the strongest ranking factors. On the flip side, if you have your site set up properly with +1s, Pins, Tweets and Shares, then your site will drive more traffic to your social platforms and get more engagement as a result.
This is one of the strongest (if not the strongest) correlations, as Google is forcing Google+ on companies by offering powerful markup in Organic Searches:
Blue Tent’s branded SERP after building a Google+ following
If I discussed every cross-channel benefit between these two channels, then this blog would be 50 pages, so I’ll spare you the effort. This is, in my opinion, the strongest cross-channel correlation by a longshot!
Social + PPC
This one is significantly less obvious, as the benefits are more subtle. To start, there are channels that are both PPC and Social (such as Paid Facebook Ads) which is a discussion for another blog.
A non-subtle benefit of getting PPC with Social is that AdWords offers Social Extensions as a way to markup your PPC ads.
But how about the reverse? Well, the geniuses at Search Engine Land did a study showing that users who click on both PPC and Social Ads have a much higher conversion rate.
Overall, Social and PPC have a strong influence when put together. Maybe not to the extent of Social and Organic but fairly powerful nonetheless.
Social + Off-Site
The tough sell with off-site marketing is that you get into terms like Word-Of-Mouth, Leads, Cross-Convertors and other things that are extremely hard, if not impossible, to measure. The downside of this correlation is that a lot of those apply to Social as well, where people may not convert for several months until your company reserves a permanent spot in their brain or establishes a more intimate connection with them.
The reason Social and Off-site are awkward for most people is that they have very few inherent benefits to each other. You have to actively work to connect these channels together.
Ever heard a radio ad that refers you to their Facebook Page? Ever been sent to Twitter for a chance to win $200, or wanted to participate in a Google+ contest that you heard about on the radio? This is the attempts of company to tie these two channels together.
So what’s the upside of this? Well, since the "release" of Web 2.0, people want their voice to be heard. They want to interact and make an impact on the outcomes of the things you release, be it a contest or a poll. This is purely what fuels the bond between Social and Off-Site marketing.
The most difficult part of this channel connection will be selling it to your investors. It’s insanely lucrative in the long-run if done right, and a monumental waste of money if done wrong.
Organic + PPC
Organic and PPC are commonly used together, but only because they’re the top two online marketing channels. Many people don’t realize how well they synergize together.
According to a one of the studies presented at MozCon 2013, if you have an organic ad with a CTR of 0.1% and a PPC ad with a CTR of 0.1%, the two on the same page will result in a combined CTR of 0.25%
Why does this happen? Well, the main theory is that if a user sees two of your ads on the same page, they have a higher perception of your brand’s quality and reputation and are therefore more likely to click either of the ads.
That’s the only main benefit of having the two together as Google actively tries to not make PPC affect Organic Rankings at all. However, if you spread that benefit across potentially hundreds of keywords and some high-volume SERPs, then you see an enormous impact.
These two channels are commonly used in conjunction with each other, and for good reason. Keep in mind that the larger your presence in the two channels is, the larger the benefit.
Organic + Off-Site
We’ve seen several cases of TV ads telling people to search something on Google to find them as opposed to just visiting the site, which I’m not sure that Google appreciates.
A great example of this was the Will Smith movie "After Earth," which told people in an ad to Google “After Earth” to find them. The movie was a tremendous flop, if it’s any indication.
Anyway, I want you to think about this connection in a different context. There are two main kinds of Marketing: Inbound and Interruptive.
- Inbound marketing involves anything where people are actively searching for you (namely Search Engines)
- Interruptive marketing is when your brand interrupts someone while they’re doing something else to get your brand in front of them (TV ads, newspaper ads, etc).
The two are strongest when they are combined. Why is this? Well, the purpose of Interruptive Marketing is to get the brand in your head. Then, when you find that same brand on a search engine, you’re more likely to trust it since you’ve heard of the brand before.
Inversely, people whose first interaction with your brand is on a search engine tend to have a better perception of it, since it’s first impression wasn’t an annoying pop-up ad or a manipulative TV ad. If they then see the Interruptive ad, they’re more likely to have a less negative reaction to it.
PPC + Off-Site
The synergy between these is pretty nice. PPC includes Inbound display and text ads. Off-Site (can include) interruptive display and text ads. As such, you can deliver an ad using one of these channels, and then show them the exact same ad on the other channel.
This is great for a consistent advertising campaign that needs to span across multiple channels.
I hope this helps give you an understanding of the power that multi-channel marketing has. However, one clarification I’d like to make before closing this topic out is that if you’re going to do a channel, do it right. Don’t go in just because you feel you have to.
And if you or your client’s business is currently just hitting one channel, then it’s probably time to discuss the future.
Dan McKey is an SEM Account Manager at Blue Tent. Specializing in the more technical aspects of SEO, Dan often gets tricked by his colleagues into doing depressing amounts of Regular Expression.