The proliferation of devices and channels means that reaching and engaging with customers has never been easier. However, the relentless pace of change constantly moves the bar for marketers, pushing them to expand their definition of multichannel and challenging them to meet it. But are they actually prepared to meet the most vital demands of multichannel marketing? Or is the rate of change preventing sustainable progress?
Earlier this year, Econsultancy and Adobe surveyed nearly 2,000 digital marketers and ecommerce professionals in order to explore the extent to which their organisations are adopting a joined-up approach to marketing across multiple channels (Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company).
The resulting Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing, called “The Multichannel Reality,” illustrates that most companies are failing to take an integrated approach, with only 14% of marketers saying their organisations join up campaigns across all channels. Perhaps more worryingly, the proportion of companies which said none of their marketing campaigns were integrated has almost doubled (from 6% to 11%) since a similar study was carried out two years ago.
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Why has there been so little movement in multichannel marketing in the last two years? Here we explore three key issues holding marketers back.
The Right Tools For The Job
Effective data management, one of the most important pillars of multichannel marketing, has long been a challenge for marketers. Since 2013, the proportion of companies with separate, non-connected technologies managing data for different channels has only marginally decreased, from 52% to 50%. Non-integrated tech platforms are seen to be the most significant barrier to integrated marketing activities, selected as a top-three obstacle by more than a half of responding organisations, and as the single biggest problem by nearly a fifth.
Unsurprisingly, organisations with a single platform that manages data across multiple channels are most likely to take an integrated approach to all campaigns across all channels (31%). Those with separate, non-connected technologies experience the lowest levels of campaign integration, with two-thirds (67%) of companies in this category having zero or limited integration across campaigns and channels.
While one would expect this to give new impetus to those striving for more integrated activities, the transition to all-in-one marketing solutions has been slow. It’s not solely a matter of stringent organisational purses or lack of buy-in (though these are still challenging for many), but also of a stagnant mindset. Although the vast majority of marketers know what they need to do, too few are actually doing it. It’s high time they did their part and caught up with what technology can enable them to do.
The ‘Single Customer View’ Conundrum
The research also revealed that the much-sought-after 360º view of the customer remains one of the most difficult challenges facing modern marketers. While there’s been a small increase in the proportion of organisations who have this capability, from 26% in 2013 to 29% this year, it’s a long way off for over two-thirds of companies surveyed.
In the content of integrated marketing, how would you describe your organisation’s capabilities in the following areas?
Such a complex undertaking requires technology which is up to the task. The findings of the study emphasise the importance of investing in the right solution; organisations using a single platform to manage data across multiple channels are twice as likely as their counterparts with non-connected technologies to have a single customer view.
But technology is not the ultimate answer. Even those organisations which have the right systems in place face the mammoth task of combining offline data with reams of online data, navigating organisational silos and reconciling disparate datasets. Having the integration necessary for a single customer view requires a deep understanding of the customer journey--something which, as seen above, many are struggling with.
Catching Up With The Consumer Reality
Multichannel marketing is much more than simply launching campaigns that use the same assets or broadcast the same content across multiple channels. It’s become more important than ever for marketers to understand the variety of journeys on which their customers embark, so it’s somewhat worrying that only 17% of organisations indicate they are fully capable of analysing their customers’ journeys. Organisations using a single platform to manage data across multiple channels are three times more likely to have this capability compared to those using non-connected technologies.
Taking into consideration the complexity and number of touch points, it is no surprise that only 10% of companies surveyed are able to match channels to a well-mapped customer journey. When asked about barriers to mapping the customer journey, a dearth of adequate systems has again emerged as the greatest challenge.
Multichannel success means going beyond the confines of creative ideas and responding to the changes in how consumers use various channels and devices, seeking to interact with them at those key moments which may influence the extent to which they interact with the brand. No matter what the key challenge is--non-connected technologies, inadequate skills or fragmented data--businesses need to catch up with the reality of how connected, mobile consumers are engaging across channels.
Overcoming all the above is no easy task. But the rewards are there: Over half (52%) of organisations using cross-channel campaign management tools (either third-party or in-house) indicate they “usually” or “always” hit their financial targets. Those using third-party solutions are nearly twice as likely to “always” achieve their goals than the rest. This is what might convince a sceptical, cautious CFO to give investment in multichannel technology and processes the go-ahead.
Sooner or later, every organisation will have to follow the lead of those taking an integrated approach to all marketing. They’ll finally recognise the fact that their customers live in a multichannel world and will invest accordingly. Multichannel marketing will just be marketing.
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