Challenge of Cross-Channel Marketing: Few Marketers Understand It, Yet It’s Essential for Driving Sales Growth…

Cross-Channel Marketing Strategy: Large numbers of marketers (78%) believe that cross-channel marketing is either important or very important for driving sales growth in their business, according to a study; increases efficiency and improves marketing campaign return on investment and customer relationships. And yet, it’s surprising how unprepared most marketers are to actually implement a cross-channel marketing program…

Cross-channel and multi-channel are often used interchangeably but there is a difference: multi-channel marketing refers to sending out the same message to your audience using a variety of different channels (e.g., email marketing, direct mail, mobile…). The channels in multi-channel marketing work independently and are generally not coordinated; more of a silo approach. Whereas, cross-channel marketing still uses multiple marketing channels but it’s much more coordinated, orchestrated, personalized approach: One message reinforces the next message and leverages the benefits of the specific channel by driving audiences to action, as opposed to just repeating the same message. It’s much more tightly integrated and looks at the interactions holistically– not only how customer is receiving the communication but also how they’re responding to it; which it takes into consideration before sending out the next communication…

According to Forrester: In a nutshell, cross-channel marketing is about making all media channels work together to drive better results and provide a better experience for today’s customer. For customers, a better experience means– meaningful outreach by brands based on customer’s demographic; where they want to connect, where they are, and what they care about… For marketers, better results mean– increased sales…

cross cross_media_500In the article Study Reveals Marketers Continue to Struggle with Cross-Channel by Campbell Phillips writes: According to new research only 14% of marketers understand cross-channel marketing… but despite that 42% are intending to increase their technology investments in this area over the next 12 months… Cross-channel marketing is often heralded as the future for brand and product managers, enabling organizations to adapt and tailor campaigns in real-time to changing customers behaviors in any platform. As such, marketing becomes more tailored, personalized for each customer and therefore more effective…

According to Glasner; the customer’s path to purchase is becoming increasingly complex, making it more difficult for brands to cut through the noise… to be successful in this environment, marketers must have access to real-time data, interpret it and than respond quickly, confidently and appropriately. However, research indicates 91% of marketers are unable to maximize the insights from their data in order to accurately affect marketing strategy. Further insights from the research:

  • 57 % of marketers say they have no clear strategy when it comes to cross-channel marketing.
  • 42% say there’s a lack of knowledge among their team on what cross-channel marketing is or how to analyze relevant data.
  • 38% admit that a lack in their budget is restricting their ability to perform.

In the article Paradigm of Cross-Channel Marketing by Aniruddha  Bhattacharya, Laukik Desai write: Multi-channel marketing operates channels in silos. Cross-channel marketing, on the other hand, leverages the benefits of a channel then hedges drawbacks by use of alternate channels… The main purpose of cross-channel marketing is to coordinate efforts across channels and to drive a consistent message for marketing campaigns.

Cross-channel marketing uses different channels; as a function of time, targets, or message it carries… and it ensures an enhanced ROI by optimizing channel usage and higher interaction among the channels at regular intervals. The decision to pursue a cross-channel marketing strategy is an outcome of various factors, primarily; market forces, product maturity, customers profile… and these elements drive marketers to choose this approach…

However, it’s the optimum value creation opportunities that cross-channel execution offers– versus the multi-channel approach– that propels the decision for its use more than any other factor. Instead of looking at marketing as only providing message to customers, one must look at it as providing customer experience. Also, marketers should have a storyboard of customer experiences across all possible touch points.

Before finalizing strategy, all options must be considered by reorganizing the frames of the storyboard to ensure that all the interactions present a uniform marketing experience to the customer, and drives home a unified message. With lines between channels fading, marketers should not invest in overlapping channels without a clear-cut strategy.

Measuring and analyzing customers’ path through the marketing experience helps in leveraging different contact points, and structuring measurement metrics. It also puts the product in a context that is familiar to the customer. For a cross-channel marketing strategy, it’s imperative to have response attribution systems that can give insights into the effectiveness of a channel.

Hence, for a successful cross-channel marketing strategy rollout it’s imperative that the organization align three pillars of its organization with the cross-channel strategy:  process, technology, people…

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In the article Cross-Channel Campaign Management Trends by Suresh Vittal writes: We surveyed over 150 marketers and customer intelligence professionals on their use of cross- channel campaign management solutions. While some of the findings were not a surprise, the study revealed many interesting data points that are worth revisiting. Some of the key trends the study revealed were:

  • Marketers focus on longer term relationships– over 40% have stayed with the same provider for more than 3 years.
  • Marketers focus on just a few key channels like email (84%), direct mail (66%), and web site (55%).
  • Integration capabilities and costs are the key selected drivers when it comes to cross-channel campaign management solutions.
  • Despite the renewed focus on retention; few marketers can claim to be skilled at managing customer churn.
  • While the majority of the respondents were not net-promoters, few were actually inclined to switch providers.
  • Marketer satisfaction and dissatisfaction is hard to pin down. Marketers were all over the map on their thoughts about their solutions. Broadly, the highest levels of dissatisfaction were with contact optimization, online/offline integration as well as inbound/outbound integration.

Never have marketers been more challenged to find the right mix of messaging and media. Customers have only short bursts of time throughout the day and with limited attention spans they can easily ignore marketing messages. Also, they put more trust in their online communities than in marketing messages and many customers are willing to pay more for a product or service, if the purchasing process is more convenient…

These and other changes in customer behavior warrant the need for an integrated cross-channel marketing strategy. Marketers must touch the customer at multiple points throughout the day with different media-channels to extend reach and build frequency. These touch points must include a strategic mix of email, social, search, online display, direct mail, mobile, content marketing, and traditional media…

Most critical in cross-channel marketing are two fundamentals: Consistency and Metrics. Consistency in a cross-channel marketing strategy means not only carrying the brand image and vision throughout the messaging but using each channel to reinforce each promotion or seasonal marketing initiative. Use each channel as an opportunity to move the customer further into the buying funnel… Metrics is where the real magic happens. With an integrated cross-channel marketing strategy that includes all digital marketing elements–  you can better track customer behavior over time and improve your messaging, timing, and channel integration. It’s also a really good way to show return of investment (ROI)…

The first step is to set measurable goals for each cross-channel campaign; identifying the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are most important to the success of your business, e.g., awareness, leads, new customers, transaction counts, revenue… Then, set up your campaign strategy to measure these KPI’s at each stage in the consumer’s interaction with your messaging…

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Traditionally, connecting with customers was executed through single-channels like email, mobile, catalogue, web… Then you moved into multi-channel marketing because for improved communication by producing targeted strands of campaigns that suited the individual circumstance. But how do you execute effective and consistent campaigns across all channels?

Enter cross-channel marketing: As you move towards integrating your marketing teams, you must ensure that your customers receive consistent messaging. Make sure that your entire team is on board with same information and not just offering customers information on products they’ve already refused: 84% of customers walk away from a company that don’t link up or understand or responsive to their engagement across channels; the best approach as a brand is to cover as many touch points as possible across all your channels…

Effective cross-channel marketing techniques allows you to have a complete understanding of your customers– their intentions, purchasing habits, social community engagements and web visits…

According to Ron Person; building a cross-channel marketing organization requires three processes: 1. Create a cross-channel marketing strategy: Build the brand. Be cost-effective. Strive for customer intimacy. Be a leading edge innovator. Focus on the niche. 2. Integrate cross-channel activity: Having a single point of integration brings all your marketing results together in one location. Make the results from email, marketing automation, social campaigns, webinars… culminate in a sale…

3. Measure a common cross-channel metric (i.e., engagement value): Metrics are critical; for example, measuring how engaged customers are no matter which channel they use… and by tracking the accumulation of engagement value– for each marketing channel, each campaign, or each asset, you can easily identify the marketing approach that adds the most value.

When you know the value attributed to each channel, you know which one produces the greatest return to the business. When you know the value attributed to each campaign, you know which campaigns, no matter the type, that produced the greatest results… When marketers are able to pull together these data points and access a more unified view of the customer experience, over time, then they can begin to see the true lifetime value of each marketing channel and optimize the experiences that work…

Cross-channel marketing is not simply new technology; it’s a new approach to marketing that requires newer and smarter technology. Customers are already expecting to communicate with a brand on their terms; they are– always-on and channel agnostic. If marketers wants to connect with customers, then customers demand relevance and meaning based on not just where they are, but who they are and what they like.

The transformation of customer behavior is result of widespread adoption of mobile, social, web technologies integrated into their everyday lives. As result, conventional marketing strategies are disrupted; simply adding channels to the strategy is not enough– marketers must think about how these channels can work together to drive more value and better information…