Are multiple touch points always best?

Kevin Hillstrom
President, MineThatData
Held positions at Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer, and Lands’ End

Multichannel marketing can fail when brands place too much emphasis on “best” customers.

Take the customer who orders from a catalog brand. The cataloger mails this customer two times a month, while delivering another eight e-mail campaigns per month, repeating the same message to the customer over and over again. Or consider a retailer who captures phone number and e-mail address at point of sale, integrating this information with direct mail data. The retailer could use integrated customer information to send direct mail, catalogs, e-mail campaigns, and telemarketing to communicate just one message.

All too often, my multichannel forensics projects indicate that best customers are overly marketed to. It isn’t uncommon to learn that, after controlling for prior history, so much money is spent advertising to best customers that these customers end up being less profitable than single-channel online customers that are not marketed to as frequently. This is not the promise of multichannel marketing.

Cross-channel marketing has potential when each marketing channel speaks to a unique audience. Fifty-five year old women in rural areas are ideal candidates for catalog marketing. Forty-year-old suburban women could be responsive to e-mail campaigns, while 30-year-old women might trust their friends on Facebook. Instead of asking your best customer to respond to every form of marketing, change the rules. Communicate to unique audiences via independent marketing channels. I’d rather have 100,000 customers responding to just one form of marketing than 20,000 customers responding to all forms of marketing.

Senny Boone
Director, DMA Non­profit Federation
Formerly director of government affairs at the National News­paper Association

Multichannel marketing is top of mind to many charities across the country. Those nonprofit organizations that used to rely on one marketing channel such as mailing are much more likely today to be looking at other channels and trying to find the leading edge as they integrate their fundraising for maximum effect. Nonprofits have never had such an array of marketing channel options, and newer ones continue to drive attention such as social marketing, blogs and mobile marketing.

Many marketers are seeing the benefits of using each channel to help promote the other, so a mail piece references the Web site and a Web site might highlight an upcoming mailing.

One channel can serve to collect more data elements that are needed for another channel, such as collection of e-mail addresses through mailing campaigns.

It’s no surprise that using multiple channels has produced a boost in response rates overall for organizations that do this effectively, and an effective integrated approach boosts the brand of an organization in a positive way.

As newer channels evolve, it is important for organizations to understand channel preferences of their potential donors to ensure they are not using one set of resources for one channel that may not be adopted beyond the typical early adopter for that segment.

Organizations can compare and contrast results as they explore the most effective approaches for their organization — there is no cookie-cutter approach in this area. This is about transitioning to a repository of key data from multiple channels that identifies which potential donor is likely to support the organization.



Traditional multichannel marketing – reaching out to customers across multiple touch points – is gaining ground in all sectors. Boone says that this is because repetitive appeals sometimes have the most resonance and impact. However, DMNews agrees that managing separate messages to various customer groups, as Hillstrom suggests, makes the most of your spend, combining analytics with targeting.

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