10 tips: Integrating multichannel data

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In this tight economy, retailers are trying every way they can think of to reach out to customers: Web sites, catalogs, in-store promotions and even mobile messaging. Once all these channels get up and running, however, keeping track of customer data can get difficult. Here are 10 tips for integrating your multichannel data:

1 | Make it all about the data

With data integration, the major rule is to make sure your company is working with the right materials. "Fundamentally, it's all about getting the data right because without that, you have no chance on Earth of integrating channels," says Sam Gragg, VP of customer management marketing for Teradata.?

2 | Prioritize your channels?

Sure, you want be able to use all of your retail and outreach channels. But, Gragg points out, "When you're thinking about consolidating data, you can't do it all at once." Figure out which channel offers the highest return or value and focus on building from there.?

3 | Be consistent across channels?

Integrating all your data doesn't do much good if you don't also integrate your campaigns. Pierre Charchaflian, sector leader of retail services within Epsilon, recommends designing e-mails and direct mail using the same data, so that customers receive the same type of message no matter their channel preferences. This also keeps your company from sending a direct mail piece to someone who just received an e-mail with the same offer. ?

4 | Organize your company to promote channel integration?

Internal chaos can stop channel integration in its tracks. Lissa Napolillo, president of MBS, suggests clearly defining who manages the cross-channel experience. "You have to break down barriers and walls internally because, in many cases, there are political silos internally about who owns what budget and what customer," she says. ?

5 | Have active enterprise intelligence?

For a true 360-degree view of multichannel customers, you need historical data as well as current data — and, once you have customer information, it needs to be accessible to the entire organization. "If you are receiving information from a consumer, it's very important to make it available across channels so that at different touchpoints you're not asking the same questions," Napolillo explains. "Consumers need to feel the brand understands and knows them." ?

6 | Get trigger-happy — but be careful?

Customer triggers are an important way to create channel affinity, driving consumers where you want them. "You can create targeted triggers to drive consumers to a given channel location, but also understand that that consumer may wish to interact across multiple channels," says Napolillo. Triggers driving customers in one direction, she explains, may become a barrier to cross-buying.?

7 | Test different output combinations?

"One challenge companies have is they don't know the impact of sending three e-mails and two mailers vs. sending three catalogs," says Charchaflian. "They just continue to make assumptions on campaign impacts without testing." Simple testing, he explains, allows you to understand how different channels affect each other.?

8 | Understand customer migration?

"The channel decision of where customers buy is a customer decision — I don't think we influence it that much," Charchaflian says. "However, measuring where customers go is very important." Multichannel marketers should regularly measure how many Web customers become store customers and other metrics. Understanding channel migration helps retailers optimize their marketing communications and contact strategies. ?

9 | Be bi-directional?

Bi-directional data for multichannel processing is critical, says Napolillo. Data must constantly be moving back and forth, from your organization to your customers, and adapting to changes along the way. "The more intelligence you have at the touchpoint, the greater your effectiveness in communicating with consumers," he says. ?

10 | Remember, all channels are different?

You can, and should, integrate all you want, but that won't make all of your channels and data function the same way. "Different channels have different characteristics," Gragg says. Data collection and how you aim the right offer to the right customer, he explains, varies depending on whether your campaign is in-store, online or in print. ?

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