How to Juggle Channels Without Dropping the Ball

Mobile.

Social.

Targeted ads.

Influencers.

Newsletters, white papers, smart billboards, video…

Coupons.

In-store.

Do you know what you are doing in all these channels at the same time?

No brand can pursue a customer by one path alone. Multichannel marketing means approaching the buyer by any means possible, even if that means using several channels at once. Each approach generates data. That has to be managed so that the executive in charge can make informed decisions; a much better alternative to having a nervous breakdown.

Multichannel will change the way a marketing team works  or change the team itself, for that matter.

Stone age marketing

Before marketing went digital, separate teams worked on different marketing channels, each doing its own thing. Different teams had different roles — one focusing on data, another on targeting history, and still another on measurement. That’s the recollection of Bruce Swann, senior product marketing manager for Adobe Campaign, Adobe’s multichannel marketing solution.

Sometimes these silos even had their own computer systems. Marketing and advertising were their own realms, rarely talking to each other, noted Chris Jacob, tech evangelist, author, and director of product marketing at Salesforce. They had their own KPIs, their own reports, their own budgets.“There are multiple layers of silos.  Some layers have dissipated as digital has matured.  Other layers have persisted,” said Kevin Cochrane, CMO of SAP Customer Experience. “The real silos are only just now being identified. And these silos are the hardest silos to bridge  and bust.”

While marketing is becoming integrated, the older way of doing things can still linger in other parts of the enterprise.

From silos to fusion

“All this began to break down with big data,” Swann said. Coupled with AI, it was now crucial to eliminate the silos — and the slotted teams that worked in them. Data needed to flow across the organization. Customers now seek and shop through several channels — it doesn’t matter if they get the message through social media, e-mail or mobile. Analysts can now access that data, looking for “more ways to engage,” Swann said. “They spend less time manipulating the data, more time analyzing it.”

“AI liberates us from the routine tasks that consume our time, attention, and energy.” Cochrane added.  Marketing staff have the tools to “to spark conversation, build a relationship, and fulfill a personal need or societal good. Each employee in a company can become an empowered expert.”

The technology also allows a company to refocus its multichannel marketing effort around common KPIs, Jacob explained. “You can reorganize around business goals or customer life cycle,” he said. “You’ve got to get everyone working on a common data set.”

You also have to give different teams common goals, Jacob continued. Adding customer acquisition as a common goal for differently functioning teams would be an example of such an alignment. No one is arguing over who gets credit for finding a new customer — all drive towards that goal, he explained. ”If you focus on a business goal, not a channel goal, then you change the way of thinking.”

Gaining insights, avoiding insanity

AI and big data together form the foundation of managing a multi-channel marketing effort. It is going to produce a lot of information, but that information has to be managed. “Marketing needs full situational awareness of activity in the sales channel, the service channel, the commerce channel, both online and offline, and through to finance, shipping, manufacturing, and more.  It’s a lot of data, and it is data that needs to be aggregated real-time across all front-office and back-office systems,” Cochrane said.

That overall situational awareness should enable marketers to “look at each unique customer and fully see and understand who they are and how they can help.  And only in so doing can marketers make the shift from building brand and driving demand to creating communities.

”Managing the multi-channel marketing effort requires orchestration, Swann said. “You have to understand what works and what doesn’t at the customer level….It’s not just an analyzing how the e-mail is doing.” Setting up a multichannel campaign requires designing customer journeys and showing intended outcomes. “I would counsel the person creating the dashboard to do it in a way that tells a story,” Swann continued.

One isn’t using data to manage multiple channels on a broad scale, but in smaller bites that solve problems. Is there a spike in abandoned shopping carts on the web site? Understand why. Swann explained: “You take small steps to understand what is working.” AI/big data can push a lot of information to the dashboard, but simply using the input to produce an output is insufficient. “If I am a marketing leader and I want a data view, how can you capture it and look at it to get a picture of your business?” Jacob asked.

To that end, Salesforce recently acquired Datorama, an intelligent marketing dashboard and analytics company. Salesforce hopes to use this technology to bring data together into a single viewpoint. Once that view is provided, you can drill down into the data to see, for example, if conversions are happening in three days at a cost of $50 per customer, Jacob said.

The data has to relate to the bigger goal, he added. It has to paint a picture of the whole customer journey, no matter what variety of channels it traverses.

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