Marketers must use multichannel approach: panel

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Retail marketers urged their peers to embrace a multichannel approach during a June 2 Direct Marketing Club of New York panel discussion.

Jared Blank, VP of e-commerce at Tommy Hilfiger and the panel's moderator, said that “everything we thought was unique in the online space had already been done for the previous 60 years in the offline world.”

Adam Feifer, director of direct marketing at Coach, said he finds his traditional direct mail background is effective for generating online sales across media.

“We have aligned our promotions so that we have the same message on email, on Facebook and across channels so consumers get the same brand image,” he said, conceding that he gets pressure from his superiors to “reduce costs by eliminating direct mail.”

Blank asked the panelists how they measure their multichannel approaches. Each said they test different campaigns and tie results from various channels together at the end of a promotion.

“Our database does a good job of integrating sources,” said Feifer. “We have a lot of data feeds that are all connected. That's key for a multichannel approach.”

Each panelist said social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, are effective for two-way conversations with customers. None, however, were willing to say social media could trigger significant direct response.

“We use it as an email acquisition tool,” said Feifer. “It's a revenue stream but not very significant at this point.”

Gabriela Urvina, marketing manager at OneStopPlus.com, a plus-sized clothing retailer, said social media can be used as an acquisition tool, but it is most effectively employed to “foster conversations so consumers don't just feel like we're trying to sell them clothes.”

The panelists all said they are still new to mobile marketing. Each said they had begun testing programs, but none had seen significant results.

“Mobile alone won't be the future of retailing,” said Mara Kelly, VP of marketing and sales promotion at Loehmann's. "It will prove to be a valuable channel, but one which is a component alongside other customer communication channels."

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