Trends to Watch: Multiple Channels, One Customer Relationship
Just tacking on a channel doesn't make marketing “multichannel.” In fact, a disconnected multichannel marketing strategy can do more to hamper customer engagement and loyalty than to build and maintain it. Worse, poor cross-channel marketing can send frustrated customers into competitors' waiting arms.
Customers today increasingly expect consistency across channels. Marketers need to take a more cohesive omnichannel approach to meet those expectations. With that in mind Direct Marketing News asked several industry insiders the following: What is one trend in multichannel marketing today that marketers should harness?
VP of Marketing and Product, Baynote
Personalization is a powerful tool that few truly understand. Personalization is about delivering relevant experiences based on what you know about a visitor—no more, no less. You can focus so much on creating a unique experience that you forget what you're really trying to achieve, which is better results. Uniqueness is a possible by-product of personalization, but certainly not a requirement. Instead of thinking about uniqueness, focus on relevance. What if Fred Smith comes to your e-commerce website and is presented with the perfect product to meet his needs, but a thousand other people are shown the same product and have an identical experience of the perfect fit? Is this no longer personalized? Of course it is. When you focus on delivering the most relevant content that you can, you get to the real objective, which is maximizing engagement, revenue, and, hopefully, lifetime value.
Executive Vice President, Strategy and Marketing, The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks
Journey mapping and customer experience design are must-haves for all brands and essential skills for any loyalty marketer. In today's omnichannel and connected consumer landscape, building and maintaining customer loyalty is tougher than ever. Marketers need to actively and relevantly engage with consumers throughout their path to purchase, to gain their loyalty and drive repurchase. Static one-size-fits-all campaigns and messaging strategies no longer work. And channel silos need to be broken down and reconnected in meaningful ways around the consumer in real time. The good news is that a better customer experience can be worth millions in annual revenue. This has been proven out in the financials. The way to get to a better experience is through customer journey mapping, a relatively new marketing discipline that combines the practice of traditional touchpoint mapping with customer experience design and customer strategy.
VP of Product Marketing, Responsys
As programs go increasingly cross channel, marketers need to rebuild the foundation of consumer trust. In the past few years major brands with great reputations have been hit with lawsuits seeking tens of millions of dollars for marketing to customers without permission. These costly mistakes happen because preferences and permissions have become fragmented and unmanageable within organizations, with data living in silos across various departments, geographies, and lines of business. Marketers haven't had the right technology to unify and proactively manage customers' preferences and permissions across every point of interaction, from an email to a mobile app to the point of sale. They need to find a solution that not only ensures compliance with an ever broadening regulatory framework, but gives customers a voice, enabling them to choose how, when, and where marketers communicate with them.
The big multichannel marketing trend is to evolve from a transactional view of the customer to a behavioral view to improve the customer experience, as well as build and maintain customer loyalty. Marketers engender customer loyalty when they optimize the customer experience in two ways: being in tune with the customer's need, and providing a level of personalization that engages the customer at the right time and place. However, not all marketers have the data, behaviors, and technology to execute on those two directives. A first step in the right direction is for marketers to treat customers as customers and not contacts. Many marketers repeatedly leverage simplistic data about the customer in their marketing automation or campaign platform. But a marketing database with rich customer profiles begins to encapsulate customers' needs, behaviors, and ways they want to interact. Extending the marketing database to include unstructured data, and fully supporting all relevant channels to that customer, is necessary to optimize the customer experience—addressing customers' needs and making it personal.
VP of Marketing, ClickSquared
The one trend is two words: better data. These days many of us are occupied with the idea of Big Data. It can be scary; you need talent and you're tasked with managing a huge database and purchasing specialized tools to take advantage of it all. While the tools are available to collect every keystroke, most of that information is anonymous or not particularly useful in helping marketers to be more effective. We say, “Don't boil the ocean.” Think about the data you need to drive your marketing programs and make yourself relevant and timely. Focus your efforts there. We like where we see multichannel marketers headed. They're focusing on two things: the use of embedded, prescriptive models and of descriptive models such as recency, frequency, and monetary value to turn their data into better, actionable information that serves up relevant content. That's the secret to building and maintaining customer loyalty.
As new modes of multichannel marketing and communications evolve, companies that provide a positive, holistic customer experience across all touchpoints—where print is included in the mix—are well positioned to succeed. This is the biggest trend we see in the industry and what research has verified.
Today multichannel communications often means relevant, personalized, online communications within the digital realm: Web, email, and mobile. But lately, marketers are finding that a strategy that relies solely on interactive digital communications can sometimes fall short of objectives. Online, interactive communications are powerful and immediate, but at the same time virtual and intangible.
Creatively compelling, individualized print that digital printing and print personalization software can deliver adds staying power to communications, enhances the customer experience, and builds a perfect complement to any multichannel marketing campaign. The magic in one-to-one print (i.e., direct mail) communications happens when print becomes a first-class citizen in the multichannel mix—giving marketers a unique and powerful competitive edge.
Closed-loop reporting is an underutilized tactic for effectively optimizing multichannel marketing strategies. By implementing a system that automates direct communication between marketing and sales teams in real time, advertisers can continually reallocate budget to the highest performing publishers, channels, assets, or target audiences—maximizing efficiency and return on ad spend.
These types of systems leverage data gathered from the sales team's CRM and marketing automation (MA) platforms to assess campaign performance, providing a continual stream of information that dictates necessary marketing alterations. When media-buying technology is properly integrated with CRM and MA platforms, this system becomes highly efficient and effective. Marketing teams can quickly optimize lead generation, branding, or nurturing campaigns by channel, method, or any other tactic, continually improving the entire cross-channel strategy and maximizing ROI.
Despite the effectiveness of closed-loop reporting suites, marketers have been wary due to initial setup complexity. Still, the benefits far outweigh any potential headaches.
VP, Video, Broadcast, and Connected Devices, DG VideoFusion
TV is still the 800-pound gorilla for engaging consumers with video, but it's flat. The primary screen in the house still serves as the ultimate reach and brand vehicle, but it's still only a one-way conversation. Sadly, as online video continues its meteoric rise, 90% of the streams consumers watch contain a repurposed linear TV commercial. The capabilities for interactive online video can't be any easier to implement than they are today. Self-service creative tools make it painless to add social interactivity to video, pushing brand engagement beyond the 15- or 30-second pre-roll. Interactive video, plus television reach and social integration, allows brands to leverage existing assets cross channel while driving a two-way discussion with consumers. Given the great benefits available in a digital environment, no marketer looking to inform their loyalty marketing program through video should be running non-interactive online video.
Director of Marketing, Knotice
The main trend is leveraging internal data for tailored multichannel messaging. Customers don't think in channels. In fact, what they want is consistency across touchpoints and interactions. They're also looking for brands to provide them with utility—information or services to help make their lives easier or more entertaining. A customer-centric approach to marketing means that marketers need to resist the temptation to simply push brand. Instead, the focus needs to be squarely placed on the customer, with messaging tailored to each individual's interests. This extends beyond content targeting all the way to the device they use when receiving that preferred content. Accomplishing such cross-channel excellence requires marketers to use their data. This is easier when you have comprehensive activity data for each individual, where cross-channel information is gathered and stored in a unified data management platform. It's time to use your data to “show them that you know them.”
CMO, KANA Software Inc.
Selective selling in the customer support center is the trend marketers should watch. Context is king for successful omnichannel strategies and for empowering customer service reps to consistently create customer experiences that count. Surfacing contextual information when and where service reps and customers need it most is one surefire way to convert Big Data into actionable knowledge that boosts the bottom line. Context incorporates the past, including recent interactions and purchase history, with current persona, contact channel, billing cycle, and open case details. It also engages the future, and here is where we see organizations beginning to insert relevant marketing offers and best next actions that can aid customers or service reps to move seamlessly from support to sales processes. Only by linking departmental information silos can organizations deliver the experiences customers demand in the 24/7 global marketplace; and evolve to these new marketing opportunities. Such a transformation requires C-suite leadership and an “everybody serves” mind-set.
HP Exstream Product Manager, Hewlett-Packard
Analytics offers a growth opportunity for today's multichannel marketers to reach consumers with the information they want most. However, companies should focus less on acquiring additional analytics solutions and more on analyzing the data they already have to create one message across all communication channels. With tools available like social media monitoring, multivariate testing, and geolocation services, you might think creating and delivering targeted communications comes easy. Yet, it doesn't. Why? Most of these solutions address only one channel (e.g., SMS, social media, email); this inevitably leads to inconsistency across customer communications and “dashboard overload.”
CMOs who analyze disparate data within their existing systems to create a consistent brand message across all channels will find increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.
Head of Business Operations, North America, DC Storm Ltd.
Many marketers focus on their marketing strategy and how they're going to implement it without putting as much thought into how they will measure its success. Just because a user has taken advantage of a reward or discount doesn't mean that the loyalty scheme deserves all of the credit for the sale.
To understand if it's worth paying the extra commission for loyalty marketing, marketers need to measure the difference it actually makes to the bottom line. This can be achieved through extensive A/B testing and by comparing the difference between paths to conversion, where users have taken advantage of loyalty marketing channels and where they haven't.
The success of a channel cannot be viewed in isolation. A multichannel attribution model based on analysis of actual user behavior is essential to uncover the true performance of each channel in the context of all marketing activity, to help to answer the age-old question, “Is it worth it?”
Chairman and CEO, Videology
Cross-screen addressability—while it can be challenging to achieve, it's worth the effort. We consistently see that when relevancy and targeting improve, so does ROI. The heart of true cross-screen addressability means using data to connect the dots across all devices.
Generally, we limit this discussion to digital screens: online, mobile, and connected TVs. But if we don't connect to traditional television, we're missing a crucial part of the equation. We're seeing progress toward greater alignment between TV and digital video right now in the coming upfronts. We can only guess that as brands' success mounts in executing true cross-platform campaigns, investment and interest in further developing addressable, cross-screen planning and buying tools will grow. Whether this entails set-box data or user-supplied registration data, advancements in developing a more accountable link between television and online audiences will be a great advancement for marketers.