Hard Habits to Break

We all have bad habits, but poor marketing practices can cause big performance problems—including mixed messages, disconnected customer experiences, and low response rates. According to a study by CFI Group and eBay Enterprise, 73% of consumers experience price and promotion inconsistencies between brands’ websites and stores; of those consumers, 28% stop shopping with a brand altogether or look elsewhere first.

What’s more, bad marketing habits that keep marketers mired in “the way we’ve always done things” can seriously hamper the ability to move to true omnichannel marketing. With all that in mind we asked 15 marketing industry pundits, “What bad habit is preventing marketers from getting the most from omnichannel marketing, and what should they do instead?” Here’s their insight and advice:

MARK DIMASSIMO, CEO, DiMassimo Goldstein

Marketers don’t do “loyal acquisition.”

When customers choose us for the wrong reasons, we end up with an increasingly fickle and confusing customer base. To solve this, put the brand lover’s inner experience—a key insight—in the center of every touchpoint. Translate this through a truly differentiating brand idea.

Raise the standard of truth for traditional programs and channels, lower it for newer, novel, and on-brand programs and channels. Then optimize into proven performers much more quickly.


To get the most from omnichannel marketing, retailers need to shake their dependence on Web cookies. Omnichannel by its very definition means that channels don’t matter and that all touchpoints are synchronized. A cookie is helpful in this regard, but it’s certainly not sufficient to fully understand a customer whose actions cross many devices and many channels. Before deciding to send a customer a catalog in the mail, a marketer should be aware of what that consumer has bought online, searched for in the mobile app, recently returned in-store, as well as emails they’ve opened, etc.

A Web cookie is part of that picture, but shouldn’t be confused with the full picture. If your current approach to personalization is solely reliant on Java script on your website, then you aren’t omnichannel, you are silo-channel. That is not what today’s consumers want, and it could send them right to the competition.

KURT ANDERSEN, Executive VP of sales enablement and marketing, SAVO

Typically, one hears omnichannel marketing nowadays and thinks social media, a website, or maybe a targeted email drip campaign. An all-too-common mistake marketers make, however, is overlooking their most critical channel: the sales team. Without holistic alignment between marketing’s efforts and sales’s execution, valuable conversations are being thrown away. Instead, each conversation a sales rep has with prospects or customers must deliver the optimal value, and be on-brand and in step with a company’s chosen sales methodology.

Another often-overlooked component to omnichannel marketing is data—big and small. While metrics reflecting your followers, traffic, and email opens are incredibly important, they shouldn’t overshadow deal-stage velocity and time taken to convert leads. By not expanding the omnichannel vision to include sales-related data, marketing is missing valuable insight and opportunities to influence and convert a greater portion of deals.

BARBARA APPLE SULLIVAN, Founder and managing partner, Sullivan + Company

While the progress toward omnichannel thinking is a significant leap forward, the continued distinction between B2B and B2C marketing strategies prevents marketers from getting the most out of their efforts.

All brands today face the same challenge: presenting a single, cohesive idea, and then pulling it through the entire brand experience. Companies like Apple and GE have successfully erased the distinction by following a few simple rules:

  • Thoroughly examine your business’s entire ecosystem of decision-makers, including internal and external stakeholders, distribution channels, and end consumers.
  • Take into account an audience’s rational and human drivers, using emotion when necessary to strike a chord.
  • Effectively use a diversity of channels to reach multiple constituencies at once in creative, unusual ways.

I’m calling B.S. on the distinction between B2B and B2C marketing. I challenge our industry to worry less about B2B and B2C, and more about reaching every human who has the potential to touch a brand.

DAN MCDERMOTT, Senior product marketing manager, messaging, Epsilon

Too many marketers are focused on the outbound aspect of omnichannel marketing: sending consumers the same message in an email campaign, a Facebook post, a tweet, a text, and so on. Not enough consideration is given to how a message should be customized to the channel. Worse, many marketers are ignoring the true power of omnichannel marketing: How they can use consumers’ cross-channel behavior to inform and deliver a highly personalized and compelling campaign in a single channel, such as email. Of all the digital channels, email remains the most reliable for delivering targeted messages and consistent revenue. When the real-time consumer behavior inferred from social media and mobile interactions is used to drive email campaigns, it’s proven to increase performance exponentially. Think of omnichannel as an effort to use all of your channels wisely, but not necessarily all of your channels all of the time.

MAURICIO AGUAYO, Director, digital strategy, Click 3X

The great promise of omnichannel marketing is the ability to reach audiences wherever they are. Businesses seize this opportunity to syndicate content across their digital networks but often treat these channels as interchangeable properties in the hopes of driving engagement. But without paying attention to the unique function of each channel, this strategy misses the point.

Customers use different platforms for different reasons. Yet, brands often repurpose the exact same image and copy in their content calendars across all digital and social networks. It’s a bad habit that’s hard to break.

Not only should content be tailored visually for each network’s architecture, but tone and copy should cater to the reason why people are there in the first place. Perhaps this will scare marketers, but digital continues to evolve around serving people’s needs. A little more time and effort will go a long way.

DALE RENNER, CEO and founder, RedPoint Global

One “habit” hobbles far too many marketers: fragmentation. I see it everywhere, but especially in data, rules, and content. When these are widely scattered, everything’s harder, slower, and less effective. Say you want to send birthday offers. You create an email rule: all “emailable” customers get one. Fine, but what about SMS, mobile apps, and Facebook? More rules, but built in different systems, by different teams, with different interfaces, using different databases. The result: Some customers get nothing. Others are barraged with inconsistent messages.

Across channels, you can’t coordinate, compare, experiment, measure, audit, or improve. Solving “simple” problems requires complex processes that add no value. Preference management is almost impossible. The solution is to unify access to all rules, all content, and your complete “record of engagement” with each customer. Then, make sure your unified system easily integrates new data sources and channels, so you stop creating new “silos” in the future.


An omnichannel marketing strategy depends on successfully addressing channel conflict. This is often because of a company’s organizational structure and associated budgets. Scrutinize the old and familiar channel strategies and focus on your customers: who they are and how they behave. This should drive the channels to use and when to use them.

Looking for the complete 2014 Essential Guide to Omnichannel Marketing?



Here are two issues and how to overcome them.

One size does not fit all: Marketers should always put the needs of their customers first. This means, to run a successful omnichannel campaign, understand who your target customers are and what appeals to them, and then target the campaign strategy accordingly, by each unique channel. One size does not fit all, and by understanding who your customers are and how they like to engage, you’ll be able to deliver value and drive brand promise in a compelling and consistent manner. In other words, understanding engagement across channels.

Not having the right skill-set internally: Realizing the success and performance of omnichannel initiatives requires a specialized skill-set within your team to leverage the statistics derived from cross-channel campaigns. Marketers must ensure that they recruit staff with the right skill-set to be able to process and manage the extensive campaign data required to drive continual improvement and engagement.

ROGER BARNETTE, President, IgnitionOne

The bad habit I’d like to see marketers overcome is poor measurement. It’s interesting that 53% of CMOs measure success by ROI, yet only 2% measure marketing ROI based on sales and leads. To get the most out of omnichannel marketing, you have to have data that provides a complete view of your customer across channels, devices, and throughout their lifecycle. This allows for meaningful attribution, particularly when you can see the influence of one activity by another. It also allows for a deeper understanding of intent, which you can then leverage to influence the ROI you’re supposed to be measuring in the first place. So yes, the bad habit that’s getting in the way of success is the measurement. Get it right and the rest gets easier.

CORY MUNCHBACH, Analyst, customer insights, Forrester

Marketers’ habit to break is complacency. For decades marketing activity was straightforward and bounded by some clear limits about what marketing could do. Today we’re in the age of the customer— an era characterized by empowered customers setting their own terms of engagement with brands and companies.

That has fundamentally changed the marketing function into one that has to be concerned with providing useful and contextual engagement across the entire customer lifecycle to acquire and retain customers. Not, in other words, continuing to spend disproportionately on getting customers into a funnel and stopping there. Marketers cannot simply be comfortable using new channels to accomplish the same old goals. Instead, they must use the data at their disposal to understand how a customer moves through the lifecycle, and invest in the channels and content that facilitate their effort. Don’t be complacent: Ditch the funnel mentality and embrace the customer lifecycle.


There are a few reasons why marketers aren’t reaping all of the benefits of omnichannel marketing. To start, as some organizations evolve and grow, once-unified goals and messages can get blurred. In many larger organizations, departments are siloed (TV, social, programmatic, search, etc.), and siloed departments tend to develop their own objectives. Also, many marketers are stuck with the conundrum that half of their budget is spent based on audience targeting (online) and the other half is spent on content targeting to help you reach that audience (offline). The metrics used for these two strategies are entirely different and often conflicting.

To break these habits, marketers should create one analytics department that oversees all strategies and constantly brings them together to make sure they’re all delivering the same message. Even better, you should create strategies that can be implemented seamlessly across media channels so that they support one another naturally.

WILSON RAJ, Global director of customer intelligence, SAS

Marketers need to resist the urge to prefer pure intuition over data. This bad habit comes in two forms: Not using existing corporate data enough; that is, to overlook enriching your data sources from service, ops, and contact center data. And not using external data enough—to overlook expanding your data sources from social, open data, etc.

Shift the focus from whether the data is right to whether it’s the right data. Not all data is created equal. This is where experimentation is more powerful than data analysis. Try small, fast trials on a specific omnichannel customer goal—e.g., how is the customer discovering needs, exploring choices, or buying your offerings? This limits bias and lets you learn at low risk. Test a micro-segment or a subset of your services against varying offers to home in on the right data. Test decisions in a smaller universe of channels, then confidently scale it out.

NEIL CAPEL, CEO and founder, Sailthru

The bad habit that is truly preventing marketers from getting the most from omnichannel marketing is continuing to hold on to the mind-set that massive budgets are needed for acquisition rather than focusing on retention efforts.

Every marketer is looking to improve sales and ROI, but you stand to only produce short-term results by looking outside. By looking inside, to customers who are already within your ecosystem, you’re more likely to drive profits. This is where shifting investment in omnichannel comes in: by focusing on retention, there are more resources available to create programs for customers based on specific acquisition sources, thus making acquiring new customers easier and more cost-effective. It also means more resources can be put toward targeting customers based on purchase histories, engagement lapses, etc. Focusing on strategy development for retention will allow omnichannel to yield the potential long-term results that every marketer knows is possible.


One bad practice marketers need to change is repurposing desktop banners for mobile marketing initiatives.

To break out of this habit, marketers should take advantage of the multiscreen creative capabilities that are evolving along with the unique functionality of the mobile platform. For example, Showtime’s advertising campaign for Penny Dreadful takes advantage of the gyroscopic function on mobile devices to increase interactivity and ad engagement. This isn’t possible on desktops. Each platform contains unique qualities that marketers can leverage, measure, and bring to life by taking a multiscreen, multichannel advertising approach from the get-go.

Looking for the complete 2014 Essential Guide to Omnichannel Marketing?

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