What it is and why it matters
Multichannel marketing refers to the practice of interacting with customers using a combination of indirect and direct communication channels – websites, retail stores, mail order catalogs, direct mail, email, mobile, etc. – and enabling customers to take action in response – preferably to buy your product or service – using the channel of their choice. In the most simplistic terms, multichannel marketing is all about choice.
The importance of multichannel marketing
Multichannel marketing is important for the simple reason that you must be where your customers are. And they are everywhere. If you need another reason, consider this: Multichannel customers spend three to four times more than single-channel customers do.
There’s no doubt that customers today have much more control over the buying process than marketers do. Thanks to the proliferation of available channels, customers have more choices than ever when it comes to how they want to get information.
Today there are more ways to reach customers – both in terms of number and variety of channels – than we could have imagined not so long ago. And as the number of channels continues to rise – and it will – the need to embrace multichannel marketing will become not only a good idea, but a critical one.
- Targeted messaging. Thanks to the plethora of channels and choices facing customers, delivering the right message to the right audience isn’t enough. Not only must your customers receive your message, but they also must be attentive, receptive and willing to act – regardless of the channel.
- Highly choreographed campaigns. Expecting customers to change channel or device preferences is unrealistic. As a result, marketers must constantly develop and coordinate highly orchestrated touch points and micro-campaigns that span multiple channels fluidly, in a way that the customer finds meaningful and trustworthy.
- Marketing response attribution. It is increasingly difficult to know which channels, campaigns or sequence of touch points contributed to qualified conversions and sales. Knowing what triggered each response would enable marketers to assess whether or not their marketing efforts were getting the best results.
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Three steps to getting it right
So what does it take to do multichannel marketing right? Here are three keys to success:
- Create and maintain a single view of the customer across all channels.
- Establish a multichannel marketing platform.
- Create consistent customer experiences across all channels.
Create and maintain a single view of the customer
Having a single view of the customer is critical. That’s because today’s customers often interact with your brand in a variety of ways that involve more than one touch point. It is vital that you understand how your customers behave across all channels, at each and every touch point, and that you also understand each customer’s value to you.
To get that single customer view, it may help to establish a centralized marketing data mart that consolidates all customer data in one place regardless of source. When creating and maintaining a single view of the customer, keep these points in mind:
- Having a lot of customer data is not the same as having a single view of the customer. It’s not just the data itself that is important; it’s what you do with it.
- Your customer view must evolve. Customers change. Businesses change. Your customer view must change along with them. That means bringing in new data, refreshing old data, building new models, updating old ones, etc.
Establish a multichannel marketing platform
You may have heard the saying, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." The concept certainly applies to marketing, and that’s why it’s so important to establish a multichannel marketing platform. And by "multichannel marketing platform," we mean one that includes processes and technology to support:
- Campaign management, including capabilities for segmentation, workflow creation and campaign execution.
- Advanced analytics, including predictive analytics and campaign optimization.
- Advanced execution, including capabilities for content management, event triggering, real-time decision making and next-best-offer management for both inbound and outbound marketing programs.
- Response attribution, including the ability to perform marketing mix optimization, scenario planning and marketing attribution analysis.
- Digital marketing, including capabilities that expand marketing beyond traditional channels to newer channels, including the Web, email, mobile, video, etc.
By establishing a multichannel marketing platform, you will be able to integrate traditional and emerging channels. You will also greatly simplify the creation and execution of cross-channel campaigns by enabling marketers to create, in essence, a single campaign that can be replicated across various channels. And all this puts the holy grail of marketing within your grasp – reaching the right person with the right offer through the right channel at the right time, while reducing costs and improving the effectiveness and performance of your marketing efforts.
Create consistent customer experiences across all channels
Customer experience is one of the most powerful competitive differentiators. And while the quality of the customer experience is important, consistency is equally important. That’s because your customers experience your brand as a whole, whether their interactions with you are online, in a store, over the phone, or some combination of these. What value is there in a positive online experience if a customer’s in-store experience is negative? If you treat each channel as a distinct entity, you run the risk of turning customers against you if you fail to deliver consistency.