For businesses today, engaging with customers across multiple channels is a competitive imperative. The challenge is coordinating these efforts using shared insights and developing strategies that use the right channels to engage the right audiences at the right time.
There is, of course, no single, magical “multichannel silver bullet,” but there are some key questions that you can ask--a checklist, if you will--the answers to which will put you on the right track for developing a sound multichannel marketing strategy:
- Capture and understand consumer interactions across the customer life cycle: Does the business have a solid understanding of consumer behavior across all channels, and is this information captured?
- A tweet or “like” that creates engagement on the Web site: How can the business leverage data from one channel to improve the relevance of communications on other channels?
- Direct mail and email to the in-store connection: What is needed to bridge the gap between online and offline marketing campaign information?
- Data democratization--embrace the concept of sharing: How do you break down the “siloed-data” barrier across the organization to ensure a comprehensive view of customer activity?
- From surfing on a smartphone to joining a fan page: What effect or influence do social networks have on customers? What about all that mobile data?
Bringing together all of these activities and data points and breaking down long-standing data and marketing silos is the only way to paint a complete picture of how customers engage--and, ultimately, why they do or don’t convert.
Whopping Improvement To Campaign Results
When organizations integrate several marketing technologies across multiple channels and understand their impact on one another, marketing ROI is increased. Research indicates that leaders in multichannel marketing can improve campaign results in the neighborhood of 300% to 650% over their traditional broadcast campaigns.
For many marketers, however, the complexities of reaching consumers across all of the various channels (email, search marketing, social media, mobile, etc.) can feel a bit daunting--and confusing. In multichannel campaigns, marketers out of necessity have often been using one set of metrics to look at search marketing, another to look at purchase data, another for email marketing, and still others for social media, video, or mobile interactions. The result is kaleidoscopic fragments of unrelated data that rarely form a clear picture. Marketing teams are left to look at stats from a variety of vendors, trying to compare apples to oranges, and ending up with nothing but a hazy view of campaigns’ ROI.
For marketers to succeed with multichannel campaigns, they must be able to look at customers through a single lens to determine solid ROI numbers across all channels.
Here, then, are a few tips that can begin to make your multichannel-marketing efforts more successful:
>> Run with the numbers: Marketers must capture and analyze consumer data. Marketing has to move fast and make decisions based on real-time consumer insights, which requires solutions that reduce complexity by automating the integration of marketing applications. Debunk or validate any assumptions based on leveraging this consumer information.
For example, during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, NBCU gathered detailed, real-time intelligence about how consumers engaged with interactive content on NBC’s Olympics Web site, mobile Web sites, and iPhone applications, as well as about how they were referred from social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. The assumption was that these additional channels would cannibalize television viewing habits.
Because all content was measured according to when and in what format it was viewed, NBCU could cross-reference television and online channel statistics to accurately identify viewer behaviors. The result was an increase in unique visitors, more engagement across mobile and digital video, and, most surprisingly, almost one-third of consumers accessed content on the Web and TV at the same time.
Tapping into a skill learned in kindergarten.
>> Improve visibility: Compare apples to apples and give deeper visibility into the conversion cycle by using cross-channel information to provide a holistic view of performance. The right and left hands need to know what the other is doing, and a complete picture of consumer interactions needs to be generated.
For Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, creating a picture of these interactions is more than just concept. Customers rent cars through a variety of channels--a toll-free reservation line, Web sites, walk-in in-store rentals, and others. Combining online and offline customer data helps Dollar Thrifty build meaningful and accurate audience segments, which can help develop relevant and targeted messaging for current and future customer (i.e., identify a customer’s most frequent travel destination, upgrade purchases, and even what size automobile they prefer).
>> Share the information: Yes, you learned to share in kindergarten, but it is also required in marketing, especially from a multichannel perspective. Break down the siloed-data barrier that exists in organizations to ensure everyone involved has a comprehensive view of consumer activity. Leverage information from across the organization to increase relevance and accelerate revenue recovery. Segment consumers based on real behavior and use this information to trigger processes that make the experience more relevant across all channels. Consumers know you, no matter how you contact them; you need to know them in return. Also, test and target content across technologies to optimize results.
For instance, USAA adopted a multichannel analytics strategy to track customers' financial and insurance needs throughout the span of their lives--from weddings and first homes to schooling children and, ultimately, retirement. The company found that many customers applying for a product were using multiple channels, yet USAA was not sure which channel was actually driving the interaction and, ultimately, conversion. Using an integrated multichannel-marketing solution, the USAA team configured an integrated analytical schema to incorporate Web and phone data to analyze multichannel interactions. The resultant insights allowed them to optimize their customer-process flow to help consumers more efficiently complete business transactions using their preferred channel for interaction.
Allen Crane, executive director of research and analytics for USAA, sums up the issue: “Share results, and give credit often. Multichannel marketing is as much an organizational journey as it is a data- and technology-driven endeavor.”
Build On The Framework
The key to moving successfully into today’s new multichannel marketing world is to have an integrated framework for marketing applications that unites data in a way that simplifies results. With an integrated framework, interactive marketing organizations can have the technology, analytics, and strategic planning they need to measure and optimize every customer engagement. Above all, a cohesive framework and multichannel-customer analytics can allow marketers to view customer interactions across channels through a single lens--empowering them to understand the full spectrum of customer engagement, improving the customer experience, identifying ROI from specific campaigns, and boosting a company’s overall returns.
Today, more attention than ever is being focused on the need to optimize marketing spend and ensure that the most effective channels are being employed. Measuring campaign returns is also vital. For marketers and their companies to succeed, organizations need multichannel analytics solutions that enable managers to aggregate and look across online and offline channels to better understand customers, provide a seamless experience, and maximize return on marketing spend.
More emphasis is now placed on the need to optimize marketing to meet key business requirements. Today, effective marketing strategies that cross multiple channels are easier to coordinate and measure, thus opening opportunities for marketers to design and closely monitor campaigns that cross multiple mediums, ultimately delivering better return.
Also by Anoop Sahgal: "The Data-Driven CMO"