The Good and Bad News About Marketing

There’s some good (yet unsurprising) news for email marketers. A new report by The Relevancy Group and Zeta Interactive confirms that email is still the most effective channel in terms of delivering revenue. In fact, 91% of the 300 B2B and B2C marketing executives surveyed verify this to be true.

Email’s ability to deliver strong attribution and attractive conversion rates has led marketers to invest in the channel for years, explains Nicholas Einstein, VP of research and principal analyst of The Relevancy Group.

The bad news: Expanding email’s success into other channels is hard.  

“Marketers are in a good state,” Einstein says in regards to multichannel marketing. “However, they’re struggling.” Specifically, they’re struggling with leveraging the big data that multichannel marketing provides, which they need to manage, optimize, and run campaigns.

To help put these challenges into perspective, here are 10 of the biggest multichannel struggles marketers face, as well as some tips on how to overcome them.

1. Silos across the organization

According to the report, 40% of marketers don’t consolidate vendors because different business divisions control different channels and budgets—even though 56% of respondents say they’d like to.

“We see big silos still with marketing budgets and, therefore, people making their own decisions from a technology perspective [and] from a data perspective,” Einstein says. “We don’t see as much integration of data and synergy across departments as would be optimal.”

2. Silos within marketing

Not only do marketers have to break down silos within their companies, but they also have to tear down walls within their own departments. Consider the following: Only 38% of respondents say that their marketing departments share common goals, and just one quarter say that there’s central ownership of the marketing programs across channels. What’s more, less than that (23%) consider their marketing programs tightly coordinated across channels. In fact, 18% of respondents say that each marketing channel operates independently with no central or common collaboration at all.

3. Data silos

Just as how organizational silos can be problematic, data silos can also be an issue. According to the report, just 21% of respondents have a centralized repository for client data. Another 21% use multiple databases to store customer information. This lack of data management can create issues in terms of data hygiene. It’s no surprise, then, that only one fifth of respondents have robust data hygiene and de-duplication processes in place and just 19% practice data housekeeping to identify multiple customer accounts. 

“Marketing departments remain siloed, which prevents us from really driving a consolidated view of the customer…[which] is what’s really needed to execute on what has become a pretty complex customer journey,” Einstein says.

But not all marketers are living in a siloed world. Twenty-nine percent of marketers measure customer lifetime value and another 29% centralize customer data from across channels to recognize the customer as a single person.

4. Attribution

Having effective top-down management is one way to battle organizational and data silos, Einstein says. Another, he notes, is having strong data reporting and attribution.

Many marketers are focusing on honing their attribution reporting this year. In fact, 40% of marketers cite analytical services that develop measurement and attribution models as their most valuable marketing service to their organization.

However, linking on and offline activities is no easy task. Just 21% of respondents say that they practice attribution to track marketing performance across channels. In addition, 23% say knowing how much effort or budget to dedicate to each channel is a challenge.

“All of these channels kick out so much additional data that sifting through and separating the signal from the noise is difficult,” Einstein says. “But [what] we’re seeing in 2015, and I would expect to see moving into 2016 and beyond, [is] omnichannel or multichannel attribution taking an increased percentage of the marketing budget.”

5. Lack of clear objectives

According to the report, only 26% of marketing executives say they have clear marketing goals by channel, and just 25% claim that they have clear measures in place to determine success. Furthermore, only 23% of respondents say that the marketers on their team are aware of the specific success measures they’ll be judged by.

Einstein attributes these figures to the idea that marketers are venturing off into unknown territories and experimenting with tactics that don’t have established KPIs.

“A lot of these different digital marketers are doing new and different things and expanding into new and different channels,” he says, “and there isn’t a lot of historical data to quantify their goals.”

6. Inadequate resources

Lack of resources seems to be an issue every year—both in the form of budget and talent. About one fifth (22%) of marketers list having adequate staffing resources to manage programs as a main challenge and 21% cite lack of budget as a key issue. Marketers seem to be especially strapped for IT resources. Consider the following: 16% of marketers say having adequate IT support for marketing applications is challenging and another 16% say the same about having enough IT support for data extractions.

Having access to cross-channel data and using services to interpret that information can help marketers manage their data and make the most of what they have, Einstein says.

7. Automation

Automation is another way marketers can make the most of their resources.

“Nobody has the staff in house to be able to model out everything and execute campaigns on a one-to-one basis to their audiences,” Einstein says. Automation, however, can help marketers set up rules and get their targeted communications out the door faster.

Still, marketers are just scratching the surface of marketing automation. According to the report, the majority of marketers automate less than 20% their emails. In addition, 17% of respondents find automating campaigns across channels to be challenging.

8. Campaign coordination

Creating a seamless campaign experience across channels isn’t easy, and marketers are feeling the strain. For instance, 27% of marketers say coordinating their campaign strategies across channels is a challenge, and 26% say coordinating marketing across departments and corporate brands is a struggle. In addition, 21% have a hard time managing the frequency of messages across all marketing channels and 20% are finding it difficult to manage marketing offers across multiple campaigns.

9. Old-school data

Marketers have been relying on RFM data for years to deliver “enviable” ROI, Einstein says. In fact, many still pair this monetary insight with demographic information. Respondents selected customer spending (28%), customer profitability (25%), and demographic data (25%) as their top three data sources that have been most helpful in segmenting their email campaigns over the past six months.

However, real-time data is relatively new—only a quarter of marketers currently leverage it to drive segmentation and targeting. And while it may be difficult to track (as well as pricey to do so), Einstein says that it will become vital for marketers to leverage this information as consumers’ expectations continue to increase.

“Ultimately, user expectation has changed over the past several years—as we all know as users,” he says. “And the need to be integrated with real-time data sources is critical now and will be made more critical moving forward as our phones become the way that brands are communicating with us.”

10. Knowing where to start

With so many challenges to tackle, marketers can feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. Actually, 15% of respondents say knowing where to start optimizing and improving their marketing programs is a challenge, and 18% say prioritizing marketing initiatives can be difficult because there is always the next “big thing.”

Einstein recommends following Zeta Interactive’s three-step framework:

Integrate: Ensure that all data is collected and actionable.

Automate: Ensure that the customer journey is mapped out and that the people, processes, and tools are aligned to execute triggers.

Measure: Ensure that the impact can be tracked and that the results can be quantified.  

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