Breaking the single-channel-dependency cycle. Part I.

Apr 23, 2020 | Articles

Andrea Burgueño

Andrea Burgueño


A very common mistake among brands of all sizes is focusing on the one channel that is working for them. If you have done this too, you might be wondering why this is the wrong thing to do. Isn’t it actually logical to make decisions based on certainties? After all, we all need some reaffirmation to know that we are on the right track and in this particular case, that comes from the results achieved on that one channel, right?  However this reaffirmation might just be an illusion and the one-channel strategy not that positive in the long run.

Concentrating more than 80% of the budget on a single channel and therefore on a single partner, whether we are talking about SEM, social ads, affiliation or others, means that we are not just limiting our scope, but also the type and amount of data we could be using to work on future campaigns and strategies. 

Even though focusing on a specific primary channel might be a way to reach our goals, basing an overall strategy on just one element is extremely risky and even harmful. The same way that an entire company wouldn’t ever depend on a single client, it shouldn’t reduce its advertising activity to just one option because that would make the entire plan vulnerable to factors that are mostly out of its control like, e.g. changes in the market or the advertising policies or overloaded environments. That all translates into potential higher costs that could easily knock out many advertisers.

Even the ones able to adapt quicker, bid higher and invest more, would be unable to thrive because they won’t be capable of increasing the volume of the activity. Also, taking it to the next level and moving from, e.g. register to purchase, would be an impossible task.

One channel is not just lack of scale, but a huge limitation in qualitative and quantitative terms

This leads to something that should be analyzed at various levels too: reach. By now, you might have figured it out: through that only channel you are operating, you can only reach a specific target or at least a reduced audience. This is level one. But, let’s move to level two (and here is where the problem starts to get more complex): you are not even approaching that specific audience across all stages of their customer journey. Customers take a multi touch journey, often four to six for most Americans, and this is also the reason why more than 74% of them expect brands to develop a cohesive experience on multiple channels.

Just picture your own buying process (probably not very different from that, what you can read in all these studies about customers’ behaviour). You might look for the product on the Internet, because you are already thinking about buying it, for instance. Well, so does your audience, who would easily click on one of your SEM ads too. How convenient to impact them right at that stage of their decision making process, isn’t? 

Or they might just spend some time on Facebook and suddenly see something they had no idea about, but turns out, they love it and they want to have it now. They feel the urge to integrate it in their lives the same way that your ad was integrated in their social experience

In other words: each and every single channel not only allows you to target different audience types, but also, they have different functions and effects on your customers. They trigger different reactions depending on the different cognitive and emotional moments of their purchasing process. This is the third level of complexity: “multiple channels” also means “multiple moments”.

Apart from the specific strategic faux pas, there is also one potential issue that many advertisers tend to overlook or else play down and that affects every single aspect of the operation and the strategy. Brands often decide to keep doing the same thing, on their one channel, with their one agency or marketing partner because it works fine right now. However, this is the easiest way to never find out what else could be also working now and in the future, even bringing better results.

Being in the comfort zone literally suppresses the brand’s capacity to adapt, evolve and innovate, to overcome challenges and issues because it has lost perspective and important information.  

So, while you wait until next week for the second issue of this series, why don’t you leave your comfort zone and start considering the idea of going multichannel?