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Harmonizing Your Digital Media: The Beautiful Music of Cross-Channel Marketing

Julian Scott May 18,2016

Google defines ‘harmony’ as “the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions having a pleasing effect.” We all know great harmonies when we hear them—iconic groups like Queen, The Beach Boys, The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac have made their marks as rock harmony royalty. And orchestras around the world wow us with their pitch-perfect compositions.

Earlier this year, the iconic New York Philharmonic Orchestra announced the appointment of Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden as its next Music Director, beginning in 2018. This got me thinking about what it takes to lead an orchestra; to coordinate dozens of distinct moving pieces to create beautiful music. As digital marketers—what’s our version of harmony? A night at the orchestra can feature over a hundred individual musicians, but as audience members we hear something bigger—a cohesive musical experience that makes a dramatic, lasting impression. Similarly, successful cross-channel marketing results in a customer impact that’s bigger than each distinct moving part—it creates a fluid, engaging brand experience that fosters positive results and drives returns. As marketers, we can look to the great works of orchestras like the New York Philharmonic to guide us in creating our own cross-channel harmonies. Here are a few key lessons.

  • Strike the Right Balance
    A conductor’s job is to keep music balanced—as marketers, we’re faced with a similar challenge. When a musical harmony isn’t balanced just so, our ears pick up on it right away. Similarly, when your channels aren’t quite in-sync it throws the customer experience off kilter. We all know it’s important to engage customers from multiple angles—but a truly integrated approach also allows them to seamlessly transition from email to web to social and beyond in a way that works with and complements their day-to-day lives. This creates a stable sense of brand cohesion, and optimizes positive results.
  • Know Your Range
    If you ask a choral conductor about creating harmony, they’ll tell you it’s important to keep each voice part (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) within its normal range, but it’s okay for them to overlap occasionally. Likewise, each marketing channel is its own unique medium—designing an engaging email, for example, comes with a different set of rules than creating a killer landing page. The key to effective campaigns is honoring each medium’s strengths and limitations—but true cross-channel success comes from how your key channels overlap and interact with each other.
  • Be Adaptable
    Early traditional orchestra music was often created specifically with the cathedral where it would be performed in mind, making use of the building acoustics to enhance harmonies. More modern music is more flexible, designed to be performed in a variety of venues. In cross-channel marketing, both of these approaches apply—when we fine-tune campaigns and channels to adapt and scale to different customer experiences, preferences and needs, we’re able to better meet our brand goals, drive ROI, and make a bigger impact all around.
  • Timing Is Everything
    A skilled conductor ensures that an orchestra’s tempo is perfectly paced. When it comes to creating an integrated brand experience, it’s our job to make sure that cross-channel content is both relevant and perfectly timed. For example, brands that sync up their web, email and brick-and-mortar channels can optimize customer experiences by mining online user data, and delivering relevant suggestions to consumers through the channel that works for them, at just the right moment—say, delivering in-store customer service suggestions based on a user’s online browse history, then following up via email. An effective cross-channel approach serves up cohesive, on-point content where, and when, a customer will be looking for it.

Looking closely at how conductors work to carefully orchestrate each breathtaking musical performance, it’s easy to see that we as marketers can learn a lot from them. A fully coordinated cross-channel strategy transforms email, web, social, and other distinct efforts into a cohesive, engaging brand experience that’s bound to make a big impact on customers. When you take the time to ensure your channels work together harmoniously, positive results are sure to follow—and that’s music to any marketer’s ears.

Tags: Cross Channel Marketing, Digital Marketing, Digital Strategy

About The Author

Julian Scott

Julian Scott

Co-CEO, Shaw + Scott (Vancouver) Regarded as one of the foremost experts in the fields of email and digital marketing, Julian has over a dozen years of visual communications experience, with a specialty in multi-channel, global, interactive design. His work has been recognized with over 35 awards, including a 2009 OMMA award for Best Email Design. Prior to co-founding Shaw + Scott, Julian served as the Executive Director of Digital Services for Responsys where he worked with some of the world’s leading brands including LEGO, Virgin America, Philosophy, See’s Candies, Symantec, Coach, Wells Fargo and Allstate.