Deconstructing Multi-Channel Marketing

A lot of marketers like love to use the phrase “multi-channel marketing.” I’m going to come out and say right now that this term is overused. Upon seeing it, my inner English major and language teacher instinctively flash alarms that cause me to cringe: “Warning … jargon!”

Let’s dig deeper: What do we marketers mean when we talk about ‘multi-channel marketing?’ At its essence, ‘multi-channel’ is exactly as it reads: multiple channels. What’s a channel? Nothing more than the medium by which something is communicated. In the marketing world, this typically refers to platforms like company web pages, email, video, social media, organic search and sponsored listings on Google (PPC) or other websites. It can also refer to more traditional media like events, TV, radio and print publications. Marketers often use it to suggest a form of marketing that is integrated across channels; in other words, campaigns talk to each other.

One simple example of how a message can cross platforms is when any campaign is used in conjunction with email. It is often the common thread across other marketing media because it can be used to promote any message or link to any other valuable information or assets (e.g., a video, a product/service, a corporate homepage, a special offer, an event registration, a social media profile).

I think the greater significance in all the hype around channels or ‘holistic marketing’ is having knowledge of how to effectively coordinate messaging among the vast array of digital outlets … and how to connect the digital to the traditional (or online to offline) when applicable. For example, attending a trade show or conference these days can involve company print ads, brochures, signs, banners, merchandise, mobile devices, social media, blogging, email campaigns, lead-collection, and landing pages—all of which might be interrelated in some way.

This is where marketing automation can save marketers time. Marketing automation platforms make it easier to not only create and coordinate these campaigns across different spaces (real and virtual), but also track the expenses and return-on-investment. As a result, traditional activities like event marketing can cast a wider net and be measured with a more precise gauge of profitability because you can nurture (with quality content) and track sales leads from the moment of shaking hands at your company sponsor table to the signing of a contract potentially one year later. Offering prospects this type of value and your CFO or chief revenue officer this type of accountability both increases the productivity of “traditional” marketing and enables the justification of your marketing budget down to the dollar.

So, the next time you hear somebody talk about “multi-channel marketing,” get beyond the surface (and the jargon) and recognize some of the real potential of today’s brand of digital marketing.


Director of content marketing at Fathom, Paul is a 6-year veteran of the digital marketing industry who also has a teaching background. After spending many years serving clients as a Web copywriter, he currently leads Fathom’s internal content strategy in collaboration with the sales & marketing staff. He also serves as editorial director of Fathom’s website and blog and has written/edited multiple white papers on marketing. He previously was lead blogger and managing editor for, a resource for individuals interested in career-focused education. Holding a BA in English from the College of Wooster, he is also the author of a collection of poetry, “Under the Lunar Neon.”

He is particularly interested in usability, readability, his niece/nephews, and playing tennis (not necessarily in that order).