There are several big reasons why most companies find it impossible to pinpoint their most effective online marketing initiatives. But how can that be, in an online world in which everything is measured to the most excruciating detail, that we’re still operating with a horse-and-buggy level of insight?
First, we should be measuring the quality of online interactions, not just quantity. Most Web analytics tools aim to measure and increase the quantity of Web site visitors. And Web analytics, itself, is all about measuring aggregate average quantities--for instance, number of visits, percentage of new visitors, page views, bounce rates, top assets downloaded, most popular entry pages, most visited pages, and so on.
Second, we are not connecting the dots. Email is tracked independently from the Web, which is tracked independently from the mobile Web, social media, and mobile apps.
Subsequently, the downside of today’s social/mobile explosion is that the technology has reached a tipping point. Companies are conducting multiple, disconnected conversations with customers and prospects across siloed channels. Because there is no real connection between channels, there is no shared customer/prospect knowledge or common goal to these disparate conversations.
Furthermore, the tools designed to help marketers manage individual channels are doing so at the expense of overall business results. As communication channels continue to proliferate, the customer has taken control of the conversation. Marketing hasn’t kept up and is, in fact, losing control. Even more important, marketers are unable to prove that customers are engaged with the brand, and they can't show the demonstrable business results that would follow, such as increased trials, sales, and interaction.
This struggle for engagement has left customers ignoring key messages and receiving unwanted, irrelevant content and offers. Meanwhile, marketers are struggling with relevancy and building brand loyalty and preference.
We are left with disconnected customer conversations that lead to disconnected customer interactions. This is precisely the scenario many organizations face as they drown in analytics data. They are also challenged with how to progressively drive consistent customer interaction through multiple touch points and marketing channels.
A holistic, deep understanding of a prospect or customer with a universal profile is the basis for true engagement. This is unlike what most organizations have today, which is comparatively random data based on a prospect’s activity in an isolated channel.
When a company meets a customer online, through a call center, email campaign, or social network, it is engaging in a conversation. An exchange of communication and commitment is taking place. The level of commitment exhibited by the customer is the secret ingredient of quality. Marketers need to understand what drives engagement and produces the desired customer actions--not what drives crowds and burns money.
The conversations an organization conducts through its Web site need to be integrated with email marketing initiatives, online advertising buys, search engine optimization capabilities, and offline sales activities. In addition to managing and publishing content, a Web site should provide the capabilities to expand the online presence, attract prospects, and convert browsers to buyers.
Making the shift to effective cross-channel conversations starts with defining and capturing customer intelligence across all of these channels, and then creating customer interaction scenarios while measuring the quality of engagement. Think about automating the process of managing customer interactions. The goal is to personalize interactions and have in-context conversations with large numbers of the audience, in any channel.
Next, try measuring engagement value--how much commitment and interest do specific customer actions convey? Offer activities that require a two-way exchange rather than one-way browsing, and assign points to each activity--opting into a newsletter, downloading a whitepaper, and requesting a product demonstration indicate higher levels of engagement than simply browsing.
To accelerate marketing effectiveness, marketing professionals must know how to engage customers where they expect and want to be engaged. They must coordinate that interaction across multiple channels.
Marketers who can’t determine how and where to engage their audiences are doing shotgun marketing--wasting money by broadcasting campaigns across a wide swath in the hope of hitting something of value. This approach quickly kills companies in today’s high-speed world of Web marketing.
The latest advances in marketing channel integration make it far easier to create progressive, personalized engagement with the target audience. Analytics data, formerly paralyzed by incompatible marketing tools, can now be merged and analyzed in new ways to make consistent engagement possible. Orchestrating customer conversations across channels is now very attainable--eliminating one-off engagement and increasing the types of interactions that ultimately build business.