Cross-Channel Synergy? Where?

How often have you seen a URL advertised on TV and flown into a frenzy, scrambling to note it so you could check out the site later? How often have you visited such a site only to find the special offer, promotion, or featured product that prompted your interest was nowhere to be found on the page you were urged to visit?

No data documents how often this happens, so I collected my own in a homemade survey. My “results” are statistically unreliable but provide anecdotal evidence of a bad brand situation.

Over two months, I noted every URL I encountered. Most came my way via magazines and direct mail, some via television. Some were part of outdoor promotions, and some were on the radio. In addition to jotting down the URL, I noted brief details about the ad and context in which the address appeared — information on what the promotion promised.

Before revealing the results of my survey, I want to mention I actually expected to find most brands at this point in time — some eight years after the appearance of the World Wide Web — to have created the necessary synergy between clicks, bricks, and brands. Such synergy has been indicated by several surveys, including one by ACNielsen, to be 35 percent more effective in improving conversion rates.

My results astounded me. Of the 259 ads I noted down, 64 percent resulted in finding absolutely no connection between the promotional message and promise and the Web site’s content. Of the 92 billboard promotions I responded to, 72 percent evidenced no synergy between their billboard promotions and their sites’ content. And 43 percent of addresses I heard on the radio missed the synergy boat, too.

The only positive result was direct mail promotions, which, for some reason, led to pages that manifested a link with the offline promotion. Only 8 percent of the URLs gleaned from direct mail failed to create a connection between the landing page’s promotional context and site content. A promising 92 percent achieved a clear link between messages in their letters and brochures and their sites. Well done!

This survey is in no way comprehensive. Apart from the fact the sample group I explored was very small, the subjects were exclusively from Australia and the U.S. You’d need to investigate a much bigger group across a larger swathe of the globe to generate statistical validity. Naturally, the short bursts of exposure that media such as billboards and broadcast channels offer don’t permit long, complex URLs, if that’s what is required to create cross-channel brand synergy.

All those caveats and the purely anecdotal value of my little survey aside, where is brand synergy? Why does it seem to be so hard for so many brands to create synergy across channels? You’ve spent a heap of energy (not to mention money) establishing your online, offline, and wireless presence, but you’ve forgotten to tie these elements together.

It doesn’t take much to ensure a 35 percent increase in effectiveness. It’s just a matter of thinking about total communication solutions instead of individual channels. Almost no one only watches television or only listens to the radio. Human beings span multiple channels on a daily basis.

Reflect on the channels in your private life. Use these in your brand and channel strategy. It will pay off — instantly.

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