Multichannel challenges for modern marketers and how they can be overcome

Designing and implementing an effective multichannel strategy is a massive challenge for businesses, but one which also has the potential to deliver huge rewards.

It requires companies to be able to break down siloed ways of working and join up disparate data sets to deliver coherent, personalised customer experiences across numerous channels.

This is one of the central themes in our new Modern Marketing Manifesto, which forms the basis of the upcoming Festival of Marketing. The Festival begins on October 8 and includes a number of exciting events that will help marketers get to grips with new trends and disciplines.

So to find out more about how businesses should approach multichannel marketing, I spoke to Silverpop senior marketing director John Watton…

What do you believe are the foundations of an effective multichannel strategy? Does it essentially rely on the quality of your data?

Firstly, get personal with your content and your customers. Marketers need to be aware that their brand messages are at risk of being swallowed up in an abyss, with consumers being bombarded with 30,000 advertising messages a day.

It’s essential your business stands out from the crowd – so generic messaging just won’t cut it and a multichannel strategy needs to be customised with personalised content, extending across all channels, be that mobile, email or social.

Naturally the quality of data you use is important to provide marketers with accurate analysis of consumer sentiment. 

What systems do businesses need to have in place to be able to integrate disparate data sets and use them across marketing channels?

Typically what’s missing is an environment that consolidates behaviours from all channels into a single view of the customer. The building blocks are typically there (analytics tools, email platform, CRM, ecommerce, CMS, social media monitoring, etc.) but they’re perpetuating a fragmented view of the customer.

The world doesn’t need another marketing tool right now, so we’d advise looking at platforms that can consolidates channels by extending existing native capabilities with ability to pull in data via APIs. Then ability to act on the data is paramount. So the ability to automate communications back out via all channels has to be there too.  

Marketers are increasingly capturing behavioural data, but rarely using it to shape campaign strategies. We commissioned research into how marketers use automation in their customer engagement process, and the results validated that behavioural marketers are in fact getting better results. 

With so many disparate customer touch points, how should marketing teams be structured to ensure that they maintain a consistent brand image and identity?

I think the age of specialism is over. Too many times the barrier to multichannel marketing is internal organisation and culture within the brand. I’m seeing many companies thinking in terms of customer experience, and bringing social/digital/email specialists under one roof – focusing more on the customer lifecycle rather than the (internal) marketing discipline.

Alternatively many brands are appointing customer experience officers and tasking them with building virtual teams to drive better customer touch points not only in sales and marketing but also customer service and support.

What role should marketers play in breaking down silos so offline and online channels work effectively together?

A very active one! Offline and online channels need to work together to effectively channel sales. Offline always needs to be carefully considered as it’s still a great way to convert directly into online sales. 

What role can email play in a multichannel strategy? Can email be used to try and impact offline/in-store sales? 

Email should be a huge part of your multichannel strategy, and marketers should strive to incorporate a high level of personalisation here, with demographic-driven or behaviour-driven content.

Don’t forget for many brands, email is still the most profitable revenue generating channel, or at least is second to paid search. It’s also the preferred channel for consumers for many types of communication, both marketing and transactional.

Forrester research claims that companies which excel at using email generate 50% more sales than competitors - so its clear email is a key way business can impact offline and in store sales. 

Is mobile the glue that holds together a multichannel strategy? And in general, how advanced are your clients’ mobile strategies?

In today’s multichannel world, in which 67% of the global population uses mobile phones, it’s imperative that marketers communicate on their customers’ terms, delivering relevant and personalised content when and where they expect it. Especially on mobile devices.

The opportunity is not just about great responsive design. Yes, your website and email has to work on any device, but it’s also about the added dimension of both SMS and app channels as well as location based services letting you build innovative new ways to interact with your customers.

For example, geo-fences can be used to trigger a text message reflecting purchase history, loyalty points, online shopping cart and/or frequency of store visits.

Companies who recognise the value of mobile marketing have seen great success from using advanced mobile tools like these as they continue to strive towards superior multichannel campaigns.  

How does the increasing focus on personalisation impact multichannel marketing? Is it possible to maintain a brand identity across different channels if each customer receives a unique experience?

There’s no doubt adding in more channels complicates the personalisation process. Many brands have likely tackled the web or email experience – but doing this consistently or across other channels is challenging.

If done correctly, then personalisation shouldn’t impact brand identity. With a complete multichannel marketing platform the message can be kept consistent while reaching the right consumer with the right customer with the right products at the right time. In short, we as marketers shouldn’t expect the consumer to adapt to us, we should adapt to them.

In reality is it really possible for businesses to effectively track customers across mobile, desktop and in-store? Will it be possible to effectively track in-store behaviour in the near future?

Yes and yes! With the right know how, businesses can absolutely track consumers on mobile desktop and in-store and these insights are only set to get more streamlined moving forward. 

Here at Silverpop, we’ve developed a framework that stores and processes large volumes of data as individual interactions versus the batch integrations of the past. As a result, these dynamic buyer behaviours can immediately be transformed into highly personalised actions.

Additionally, the data is stored in a single customer view rather than being siloed by channel or segment. This single identity allows marketers to deliver a highly consistent digital experience to each individual across multiple channels and makes it incredibly clear that the brand is focused on each individual, not just the audience segment they belong to.

How can brands use digital data to personalise the in-store experience?

Having a loyalty app with a QR code is one way for customers to identify themselves & for the retailer to use CRM/purchase data to tailor the experience.

The Starbucks iPhone app is one great example – frequent purchasers are rewarded with points, and achieving certain point levels automatically entails you to free additions, deducted at the point of sale. Retailers such as T.M. Lewin are trying out in-store iPad apps that capture information at POS and further personalise the experience through targeted offers and promotions.  

By using the right tools, brands can harness the power of data, centralising customer and contact data then enabling marketing teams to segment the information for its personalisation strategies. 

Silverpop is the Multichannel Partner at the Festival of Marketing

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Multichannel challenges for modern marketers and how they can be overcome

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