Cross-Channel Marketing Analytics: Exiting the Metrics Rabbit Hole
Where do my customers come from? Who is my central buyer persona? These are essential questions for marketers that are often left unanswered.
Okay, but how do we find these answers? From our customers themselves.
Today's ad platforms gather enough info to build an in-depth psych profile of your customers. You can even find out their favorite breakfast cereal!
But using this info is harder than it sounds. Ad platforms don't serve up this marketing data on a silver platter. Identifying the most valuable insights is quite challenging when the data is coming from tens of different sources.
Instagram alone provides metrics on paid ads, organic ads, and Instagram Reels. That gives us several dozen metrics from a single source, ranging from impressions to cost per view.
However, our customers don't limit themselves to a single source. A study by Harvard Business Review shows that 73% of customers use multiple channels during their buyer journey.
Google's survey shows that consumers interact with 3.4 touchpoints before purchasing when browsing from a desktop.
So, what's the solution? Cross-channel marketing analytics.
This post covers the best practices for cross-channel marketing analytics, details the most effective cross-channel marketing analytics tools, and explains how they work and how to use them.
What is cross-channel marketing analytics?
💡Cross-channel marketing analytics is a comprehensive analysis of marketing metrics from disparate sources. Marketers use metrics from websites, social media, paid channels, and other platforms to understand how their marketing is going.💡
Imagine that you are given a Lego set without an image of the final result. It’s just a pile of plastic pieces that you can turn into anything. These pieces are your metrics.
Cross-channel marketing analytics allows you to examine each piece and build your own Lego Marketing City. You no longer need to follow the building manual. Simply analyze your metrics to create a strategy tailored to your audience and business needs.
Why should you build a marketing strategy around cross-channel analytics?
Cross-channel marketing analytics offers a direct benefit. Marketers get a complete picture of what's working and what's not in terms of their marketing activities.
Which of your banners gets a higher CTR? How many prospects interacted with your brand after getting an email? How often do your customers make purchases offline after discovering your brand online? To optimize your marketing campaigns and create an efficient marketing funnel, you need to answer these questions.
Cross-channel analytics provides insights into why customers convert and allows you to convert more of them.
The problem is, customers rarely search for a particular product and instantly buy it. Instead, they go on a buying journey.
First of all, prospects learn that your brand exists. Then, they get a closer look at your brand, what value you deliver, and what problems you solve. Potential customers also search for user reviews and compare your offering to other companies. Finally, if everything suits their needs, they become your clients.
Understanding where leads fall out of the funnel and what channels drive buying decisions helps organizations accelerate their growth.
However, cross-channel marketing isn't the only way to reach out to customers across different channels.
Multichannel vs. omnichannel vs. cross-channel marketing
These three concepts might sound the same, but in practice, they have distinct differences. Each of them is a further step toward a seamless customer experience.
Multichannel marketing is the ancestor of cross-channel and omnichannel marketing. Through multichannel marketing, companies can interact with their clients across several channels. The only difference is that each of the channels works independently.
They don't offer a seamless experience when customers switch between channels. This lack of connection between sources makes it more difficult to gather and interpret marketing analytics.
Cross-channel marketing is similar to multichannel in many ways, except it shares data across channels to deliver a better customer experience.
Since all of the channels work in tandem with each other, it becomes easier to gather cross-channel analytics and identify the strengths and weaknesses of each touchpoint.
Omnichannel marketing is the most advanced option among its counterparts. It enables the simultaneous use of different channels.
For example, customers can discover more about the product online while at the brick-and-mortar store.
This level of data cross-connectivity opens new opportunities for marketing analytics—for example, data-driven lead attribution.
On the other hand, there should be a tool to store and process your marketing data. The more data you gather, the more time and effort you must invest in extracting actionable insights from it. That's why marketers use data warehouses and ETL systems to untangle their data mess.
As you can see, all of these marketing methods are pretty similar. Cross-channel and omnichannel marketing are the successors of multichannel marketing. Despite minor differences, each one impacts marketing performance in an entirely different way.
The advantages of cross-channel marketing campaigns
Let's consider the advantages of cross-channel marketing for businesses.
#1. Cross-channel marketing attracts more clients
With cross-channel campaigns, your brand becomes more visible and recognizable across the Internet and through physical means of communication.
The main idea behind cross-channel marketing is to ensure your product is top of mind among your target audience.
For example, imagine that every day, you hear radio ads promoting a brand-new car model. Let's say it's a Mercedes. These ads hit deeper because you're driving a 10-year-old car with some technical issues.
Then, you see Facebook paid ads promoting the same car that you heard about on the morning radio. Or even a picture of your friend on Instagram boasting a Mercedes fresh off the dealership forecourt. That makes you a little jealous and triggers the urge to buy that car.
Finally, you're watching a film where the main character drives the same wheels that you've been running into all day long.
After that kind of ad bombardment, you might find yourself in a dealership the following morning.
And that's the whole point of cross-channel marketing. Make your brand visible and share the same values across different channels to grow your audience. In marketing terms, it's called increasing your Share of Voice (SoV).
In turn, cross-channel marketing analytics can clearly show why potential customers were touched by the Mercedes ads and at what stage they decided to go to their dealership.
#2. Cross-channel marketing is scalable
Advertising teams become more flexible and scalable by using different marketing channels and approaches.
The startup platform Buildd shares its perspective on different marketing channels:
In some cases, a brand relies solely on paid ads. These are a great source of traffic if properly configured—but only until you run out of money to show them.
Paid ads traffic is like tap water. While the tap is on, you get traffic. Once you turn the tap off (stop paying), all that traffic disappears.
As for social media, it's a short-term investment with a quick payback. The posts you create may go viral and raise awareness around your brand. With the millions of users of social media platforms, it’s becoming easier to make content that will resonate with a particular group of people.
For example, Twitter reached its peak of monetizable daily active users in Q3 of 2021 with 211 million users.
You can find more stats on Twitter’s metrics here.
However, the hype around a post will quickly settle down because social media users produce hundreds of posts every day. So, while social media marketing is a great way to interact with your audience and almost instantly generate new leads (if you're lucky), in the long run, you can't rely on social media exclusively.
Content marketing is a fantastic long-term investment. You can drive consistent traffic to your website by producing high-quality, SEO-optimized content.
If your marketing team decides to experiment with new strategies or take a break, the traffic will continue to flow to the website.
Plus, with 586 million AdBlock monthly users and 40% of Americans now blocking ads, it’s hard to target everyone with PPC advertising. Content marketing is a great way to promote your product and not get ignored by users.
Actionable stats from the Content Marketing Institute highlight the significance of content marketing for brands.
Content marketing isn't simply about getting an instant ROI. Your content needs time to gain momentum and rank higher on Google. If you need an immediate solution that will generate more traffic, content marketing won't do here.
Each of these marketing strategies has its advantages and pitfalls. Engaging in all of them makes your marketing more sustainable and scalable.
With a holistic approach, you won't lose all of your traffic if something goes wrong with your social media or PPC ads. This means you can always move in different directions and experiment with new strategies while maintaining a stable level of traffic.
#3. Cross-channel marketing improves the customer experience
According to GlobalWebIndex, the average internet user has 8.4 social media accounts.
Here are some insights into what platforms are more popular among different genders.
The different social media platforms that people use are based on their age, location, occupation, interests, and other factors. That's why giving them a choice of channels to interact with your brand is so important.
Customers can choose the channels they are most comfortable with without switching to those they don't know how to use.
#4. Cross-channel marketing adds new touchpoints to the buyer journey
Around half of all companies use 3-4 channels in their multichannel marketing campaigns.
But the companies that develop new touchpoints with their clients experience greater results. According to a recent survey, customers who engage with their favorite brands via 10+ channels will purchase at least once per week.
As seen from the research above, only 4% of companies use 10+ channels in their marketing strategy. For this reason, businesses lose a significant percentage of their potential revenue by ignoring additional touchpoints.
What's also important is that new touchpoints help collect more data about your customers, which is useful for cross-channel marketing analytics.
Pitfalls of cross-channel marketing campaigns
Like any other complex concept, cross-channel marketing has several pitfalls that you should be aware of.
Cross-channel marketing is a tangled process
Every cross-channel campaign involves multiple moving parts that you need to sync and track continuously. Different marketing tools, tons of data, disparate channels, and other factors make it challenging to keep an eye on everything.
Most likely, you'll have to expand your marketing team to manage these multiple channels. Content creators will be responsible for social media and blogs, PPC specialists for paid ads, and video producers for YouTube and educational video materials.
Plus, you’ll need an efficient data infrastructure that can handle all of the marketing data flowing from the different sources that contribute to your marketing efforts.
A marketing ETL system can address this issue. It automatically extracts data from any marketing source, puts discrepant data into the correct order, and makes it easily accessible for marketers and other specialists.
Focusing on multiple channels
One of the biggest problems for marketers who dive into cross-channel marketing is distributing their efforts equally between channels.
You can't focus on just your one or two best-performing channels. Even if they show brilliant results, you should develop other avenues to scale your brand, deliver a better customer experience, and share brand values across as many channels as possible. That's what cross-channel marketing is.
But how much can you invest in email campaigns when you already have five social media platforms to post on, a website blog, PPC ads, and a podcast? Essentially, it all comes down to strategic planning and sensible resource management.
How to get started with cross-channel marketing
We discussed how cross-channel marketing and analytics work in theory. But how do you implement it in the real world? This section explains all of the steps you could take to drive more leads and improve your customers’ experience.
If you don't know your customer, you can't target them. That's why the first step is to analyze the market and identify your potential customer.
Start by creating or reviewing your buyer personas.
It's better to start from what you already know. So, review the data you have and look at your current clients. Here are some questions to base your B2C buyer persona on:
- What is your customer's current occupation?
- What industry are they in?
- What age are they?
- What social media platforms do they use?
- What does their average day look like?
- How do they prefer to interact with other vendors?
- Which of their daily challenges can your product solve?
These questions serve as an example and may vary depending on your niche, product specificity, and business needs.
Additionally, keep in mind the image of your ideal customer and your company's development vector.
You can tailor a cross-channel marketing strategy to your customers' needs and aim for the proper channels with precisely created buyer personas.
Find the right channels
As you already have an idea of what your ideal customer looks like, you probably know the channels they use.
For example, if your main customers are 21 to 25 years old, currently acquiring their degree, or doing entry-level work, your main touchpoints might be Instagram and Pinterest.
On the other hand, when targeting 45+-year-old C-suite executives, your potential communication channels are LinkedIn, Forbes articles, webinars, and more.
After the research is complete, you can proceed to execution.
To maintain effective communication with prospects, you need to understand their pain points and goals. That's why it’s essential to create customer journeys.
Customer journey mapping
This strategy will help you identify the right touchpoints for your audience and track their behavior across different channels.
The process involves creating visual maps of your customers' interaction with your brand at various stages, e.g., the awareness stage, where prospects establish contact with your brand.
The main goal of customer journey mapping is to understand the emotions and motivations behind your audience's behavior.
You can also create custom cross-channel marketing strategies based on these insights. For example, if your customers are more likely to be active in social media than in email, you can encourage them to subscribe to your newsletter on social media.
Now it's time to take action.
Let's imagine that your company sells outdoor apparel. Your potential customer wants to buy an outdoor jacket and considers their options. So, the first thing they do is a search on Google for "buy outdoor gear".
If you’ve done a great job with your SEO and content marketing, the prospect will find you on the first search engine page and become interested in your range of outdoor jackets.
After discovering your product, the potential customer dives into deeper research. They'll probably want to see it in action.
A YouTube channel that shows your apparel's features and durability in the wilderness is what drives further engagement and sparks interest in your brand. You can integrate YouTube videos right into the website and invite users to visit the channel after watching the video.
Mentioning influencers on a YouTube channel is also beneficial. Connecting with well-known names in your niche will build trust and bring more opportunities. Plus, it increases your brand visibility. Furthermore, mentions from popular travel influencers can help brands in this niche to generate more leads.
Influencers also share performance data on their social media posts and blogs. That means you can analyze the effectiveness of any influencer campaign.
By redirecting users from your website and YouTube channel to other social media platforms, you can keep them posted about promotions, new products, upcoming events and captivate your subscribers with stunning landscape photos to establish a stronger bond with the brand.
Don't overlook email newsletters. Since emails have an astounding average ROI of 3,600%, it makes no sense to ignore them.
Create a newsletter that sheds light on recent events in the outdoor industry, provides guides on natural wonders, keeps users posted on the latest COVID restrictions, and so on.
Don’t think of a newsletter as a channel to sell. Instead, use it to inform. Morning Brew is an outstanding example of how you can turn boring newsletters into your main engagement channel.
Users are more likely to subscribe and keep reading your newsletter if it delivers real value instead of straight sales pitches. In addition, it builds credibility for the brand and increases the chances that users will recommend your newsletter to their friends, colleagues, and others.
You can implement many other marketing channels, such as paid ads, demand-side platforms, podcasts, and others. This was just one of many examples for a particular niche that you can try on your own use case.
Your work doesn’t end once you’ve acquired new customers from your cross-channel marketing campaigns. Now, you need to identify the underperforming touchpoints and find ways to improve them.
Gathering marketing data
Extracting and structuring your marketing data is the most challenging task in cross-channel marketing analytics. Numbers and metrics literally come from everywhere. Manual data extraction and aggregation simply isn't an option when working with tens of channels.
Proficient marketing teams (in fact, all teams working closely with data) use ETL platforms to handle all data operations. Let's figure out exactly how these ETLs work using the example of Improvado.
Improvado is an ETL platform designed for marketing and sales needs. It offers 300+ turnkey integrations with different ad platforms and software solutions, ranging from Google Analytics and Search Console to Salesforce and Pipedrive.
The platform extracts data from its integrations without any coding or data engineering. Since Improvado is a marketing-first platform, it makes complex SQL transformations accessible to every non-technical marketer.
The software stores marketing and sales insights in a data warehouse, from which any company employee can easily access them. Later on, the data pipeline transfers all information to a business intelligence tool, where marketers can set up detailed dashboards with tens of charts and graphs displaying their metrics.
Analyzing gathered information
With all of the data at your fingertips, you can make reasonable business decisions and adjust your marketing strategy.
Business intelligence tools like Google Data Studio, Tableau, and Power BI offer functionalities to turn raw data into visual stories that explain how your campaigns have performed in real-time.
Illustrative charts help you to understand how each channel and campaign is performing over time, how they work together, and what outcomes you can expect in the long run.
Depending on the level of analytics maturity, your company will yield different advantages from the analysis and invest a different amount of effort. The more analytically mature your organization is, the more insights you can get from your marketing data.
Plus, the data analysis software plays a vital role in your cross-channel marketing analytics outcomes. Your data visualization tools, databases, analytics tools, and ETL platforms should seamlessly combine and interact with each other. Otherwise, the analysis might take too much time or the final data could be misleading.
Best cross-channel marketing analytics tools
Today, the marketing analytics niche is overcrowded with numerous solutions. Because of inconsistent and vague SaaS messaging, it's often impossible to understand what each software does and how it's any different from its competitors.
As marketers ourselves, we're convinced that you don't need to use dozens of cross-channel analytics tools to deliver results. You just need the best one from each category.
This section will shed light on these tools, explain their functionalities, and specify alternatives.
Improvado is an enterprise-grade ETL revenue platform. It's designed specifically for sales and marketing purposes to automate all possible data processes.
The tool has different modules, each one responsible for its own functions:
- Data extraction. Extraction of marketing data from 300+ sources without SQL queries and manual operations.
- Data transformation. Transformation of raw marketing data into actionable insights in a spreadsheet-like UI with zero engineering.
- MCDM. Improvado's Marketing Common Data Model handles automated data mapping and unification of marketing metrics across different platforms.
- Data visualization. The platform streamlines analysis-ready insights to any business intelligence tool to create actionable dashboards. It also provides ready-made dashboards.
- Data warehouse. Improvado assigns a data warehouse to store all metrics, shouldering any issues with deployment and maintenance.
- Marketing attribution. Attribution takes data from analytics platforms and blends it with CRM data to automatically credit conversions to the proper channel.
The list of features goes on. However, the main benefit of Improvado is that the platform ensures data granularity and contributes to intelligence-driven decision-making.
Why we recommend it: We designed Improvado specifically for revenue operations and marketing. We use it constantly for our marketing processes. It does a great job and saves us and our clients time, money, and effort on reporting tasks. Plus, we offer support for marketers unfamiliar with cross-channel analytics, dashboarding, or ETL processes.
Alternatives: None. Improvado is the only platform that works with such a range of marketing connectors. If you're looking for an entry-level marketing ETL with fewer sources and features, consider Supermetrics.
HubSpot is an all-in-one cross-channel marketing tool that includes a CRM, Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Services Hub, and CMS functionalities.
The HubSpot suite offers a comprehensive set of cross-channel marketing analytics tools that can be easily customized and adjusted to your needs. Here are some of HubSpot's most prominent benefits:
- User-friendliness. The platform is easy to use and navigate. It offers drag-and-drop features, preloaded templates, and numerous tutorials.
- Integration capabilities. You can easily integrate HubSpot with a wide range of tools, including Google Analytics and Ads. It also works flawlessly with Salesforce, MailChimp, Slack, etc.
- Sales features. HubSpot's sales side is pretty advanced. It has a customizable pipeline management system that provides real-time information on deals by stage and opportunity size in your sales process.
- Reporting and analysis features. HubSpot offers a wide range of reports, including email marketing reports, landing page reports, social media reports, and website traffic reports. You can also use its built-in data exploration tool to dig deep into your data for further insights.
Why we recommend it: HubSpot is a time-tested tool for cross-channel marketing. By combining extensive sales and marketing functionalities under the hood, HubSpot won recognition among clients and strengthened its leading positions in the niche of marketing CRMs.
Alternatives: Pipedrive, Zoho CRM, EngageBay.
#3 Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free cross-channel marketing analytics tool. It's the most popular and widely used web traffic analysis software on the market, offering an extensive range of features for both beginners and advanced users.
Here's why Google Analytics is a top-tier web analytics tool:
- Analysis. Google Analytics provides a wide range of predefined reports, charts, and data tables that allow you to analyze your marketing performance in just minutes without any special training or previous knowledge about web analytics tools.
- Customization. Google Analytics allows you to customize reports and data tables to match your specific business needs, which is essential for in-depth campaign analysis.
- Integration with other Google tools. You can easily integrate Google Analytics with a wide range of Google tools, including Ads, Webmaster Tools, Tag Manager, and others.
- Data exploration features. The Query Explorer tool allows you to explore your existing reports for further insights into your website and marketing performance.
- Customization. You can customize Google Analytics to fit your needs by adding new dimensions, metrics, filters, goals, and segments.
Why we recommend it: Google Analytics offers extraordinary capabilities while being a completely free solution. The only drawback is that it's not quite a cross-channel analytics tool. Although it shows your website marketing performance data, you'll have to match gathered insights with other sources to get a holistic picture of your efforts.
Alternatives: Adobe Analytics, Mixpanel.
SEMRush is a multipurpose tool for improving online visibility and handling cross-channel marketing campaigns. The platform's toolset helps marketers who work with SEO, content marketing, PPC, SMM, competitor analysis, and more.
Let's take a closer look at each of the platform's toolkits:
- SEO. This module of SEMRush contains tools for keyword research, competitive research, improving your backlink profile, technical audit of the website, rank tracking, etc.
- Content marketing. SEMRush covers the complete content creation workflow. It helps blog writers to create SEO-optimized content, conduct topic research, and track their posts' performance.
- Paid ads. The advertising toolkit offers tons of insights into your PPC campaigns. SEMRush provides insights on search, display, and even product listing ads.
- Social media. The SMM toolkit allows marketers to see how competitors engage with their audiences to adopt their best practices. The software also provides rich publishing functionalities and displays post stats.
- Competitive analysis. A competitive research toolkit unites powerful features for a 360-degree view of your competitors and the market as a whole.
Why we recommend it: SEMRush is a feature-rich platform that covers all aspects of online marketing. It's perfect for agencies and in-house teams who want to have a single tool for all their needs. The only downside is that the platform can be overwhelming for beginners.
Alternatives: Ahrefs, SpyFu, Moz Pro.
Hootsuite is a social media management platform with powerful cross-channel analytics capabilities. The platform allows you to publish, promote, and track content on multiple channels at once with its multichannel publishing features.
The platform provides a comprehensive image of your results on all social media networks and allows you to monitor improvements over time. With customizable reports, marketers can easily distill valuable insights to improve decision-making.
Hootsuite shows the best potential time to publish new posts, simplifies the management of mentions on social platforms, and provides an instant overview of millions of online conversations in real time.
Why we recommend it: Hootsuite is a robust platform for managing social media campaigns across multiple channels. It provides great cross-channel analytics features and allows you to see the big picture of your results on several platforms at once.
Alternatives: Buffer, Sprout Social, Sendible.
Tableau is a data visualization platform for cross-channel marketing analytics. The tool allows you to explore and interpret data using interactive visuals that can be customized as needed.
The software allows you to create dashboards that combine data from different sources, such as Google Analytics, Salesforce, Marketo, and more.
Tableau contains a library of ready-made visualizations with filters for easy customization. It enables marketers to make sense of their data and make wise business decisions backed with actionable data.
Why we recommend it: Tableau is an excellent platform for data exploration and creating interactive visuals. The software is user-friendly and provides a wealth of features for cross-channel marketing analytics.
Alternatives: Google Data Studio, Microsoft Power BI, Looker.
Thoughts on cross-channel marketing analytics tools
These are some of the most common tools used for cross-channel marketing.
Does it mean that these tools will be a good fit for your marketing campaigns? We can't say that for sure. The only way to know is to experiment, discover new features, and find what's best for your business needs. Hopefully, this article has revealed new solutions that will be helpful in your marketing endeavors.