Tactics for multichannel success

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Jeff Fowler, president and founder, Decision Software
Jeff Fowler, president and founder, Decision Software

As database marketers, we're in a perfect position to avoid inundating our customers by exercising discipline and agreeing on a few broad-based rules.

Here are three important steps to help you integrate and manage your multichannel marketing efforts:

1. The marketing database must be the system of record for all multichannel consumer communications.

Although this sounds obvious, there are still times when channel managers pull data from internal legacy systems instead of the database. Properly built marketing databases undergo address cleansing, consolidate duplicates, assign a unique and persistent ID for each consumer, store all relevant consumer transactions, and maintain a centralized promotion history in which a record of every contact made to every consumer is captured.

If you truly need to pull campaign data from your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, you have a problem with your marketing database and need to get it resolved.

2. Create a message hierarchy.

This can get a bit bloody, but for all marketing communications you've got to decide which of your communications are important and which are nonessential. For example, order confirmations and expire notifications are essential, but sales promotions are not.

The idea is not to suppress marketing promotions, but rather to control when and how frequently they are made.

3. Establish a “cooling off” period between customer solicitations.

Throughout your marketing campaigns, add logic that provides an adequate period of time after “touching” consumers before soliciting them again, either within the same channel or across different channels. A great way to control this timing is to add solicit date fields on your customer table (e.g., LastEmailDate, LastDMDate), and update the appropriate date each time you touch a consumer. With this process in place, it becomes easier for nonessential campaigns to exclude consumers that are within their cooling off period.

Note that while certain messages — expiration notices, newsletters, etc., — ignore the cooling off period, they should still update the appropriate date. Further, if you set up your recurring campaigns properly, this technique won't cause you to lose marketing opportunities; rather, it presents the opportunity at a time when the consumer isn't distracted with other messages.

In today's digital, real-time marketing world — as the amount of available data explodes and the number of consumer touchpoints multiplies every day — it's more important than ever to keep your marketing database at the center of your multichannel marketing strategy, using it to enforce business rules that maximize your opportunity to construct and retain profitable customer relationships.

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