Audiences live and work in an ecosystem filled with choices. They choose how, where and when they engage with a brand. They can choose what content they consume, what assets to share with their networks and, ultimately, where they find the greatest value from a brand. The challenge for B2B marketers is not only to identify the optimal channel mix at launch, but also stay on top of changing media proclivities and available platforms so the mix continues to deliver on both brand and demand objectives. A year ago, for example, B2B brands weren’t asking if they should be on TikTok. Now, the question is top of mind.

Start With a Clear, Data-Driven Strategy

Intelligence into the optimal channel mix starts with your objectives. Is it accelerating brand awareness and favorability? Is it driving leads/filling the pipeline? Is it recruiting top marketing talent? Too often, marketers jump to the channel strategy before (or without enough) understanding and consensus about the most important goals of the campaign. The best-fit channel mix must be calibrated to the objectives first.

Secondly, use qualitative or quantitative research to discover potential high-performing channels. Whether that’s a series of phone interviews with customers and prospects or an online survey, let your audience be your guide. Qualitative and/or quantitative research can be validated with syndicated audience data, from the likes of Nielsen and Kantar. These independent data providers can help you see which channels index highly against specific audiences – and enable you to correlate that with your own research to make an informed decision about where you invest your energy and your marketing spend.

Leverage the Offline/Online Communications Connection

It’s critical to not eliminate channels because of a “gut” feeling. Too often, marketers will discount more traditional channels such as direct mail, radio or direct response TV in favor of paid search, social media and other digital channels. In doing so, they could be missing out on what might actually be a high-performing channel – as well as the potential amplification effects those offline media can have when deployed in connection with digital marketing channels. For example, take the connection between direct response television (DRTV) and paid search (SEM), where 30% of DRTV viewers who respond to an ad do so via search (vs. URL or phone shown in the TV ad).

Capitalize On New Choices for Audiences

New channels (or new versions of existing channels) may also change your media mix. The change might be short- or long-term, but it’s sure to change your channel strategy and prioritization of those channels. Data is one of the best ways to identify if audience preferences are changing. This can be first-party data (your data) from campaigns, web analytics, CRM, etc. Or changes in channel consumption trends that can come from third party data – analysts’ reports, publisher studies, etc.

Audience choice will continue to be as fluid and evolving, as is any dynamic in marketing and advertising. Some changes will be evolutionary and some will be revolutionary. Some will be long lasting and others a “flash-in-the-pan.” Ultimately, there’s no one “right” mix for any audience. However, a disciplined and continuous process of testing and optimizing will not only help you stay on track, but also enable you to take advantage of (and be a first mover with) new opportunities.

Ted Kohen

Chief Executive Officer, Retina

Ted is the CEO of award-winning global digital communications company, Retina, the 2020 ANA Agency of the Year. Over his career, Ted has been focused on helping hyper-growth start-ups, national and local non-profits and global enterprises activate their brands – telling their stories in meaningful and compelling ways to their most important audiences in order accelerate awareness, interest and action. His success made him the youngest managing director in the agency’s 50-year history. Over his career, Ted has led key account wins and assignments such as ADP, Boeing, Columbia University, HP Enterprise, NCR, Oracle, Thermo Fisher Scientific, The State University of New York (SUNY), US Department of State, Weight Watchers and Western Union.

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