Marketing Is More Than Coordinating Direct Mail, Email and Social

For the past 15 years, if not longer, marketers have aspired to gain a single view of their customers to better manage relationships and increase engagement. In that time, the technology to do so has improved in ways unimaginable even a few short years ago. Innovations from mobile to social have changed the way we work, live and interact with brands.

Just a decade ago, the Motorola RAZR was the most popular mobile phone, BlackBerry devices were catching on as a way for business folks to check emails on the go, Facebook was only available to Harvard students and Twitter wasn’t even an embryo. Today, companies and their customers can interact through a variety of social media channels delivered on any device. And the data from these interactions can be captured easily to provide a great deal of detail and even nuance about customers and how they not only transact, but also how they feel about those transactions.

Given all that information, you might expect marketers to be in a state of Nirvana. Sadly, that’s not the case; the torrent of data from ever-expanding sources has made it an even bigger challenge to integrate disparate sources, while identifying unique customers and prospects across multiple channels and devices. And while you might think the primary hurdle is a technological one, I’m here to tell you it’s not. It is organizational.

The problem for many companies is that their eyes (aspirations) are often bigger than their stomachs (organizational capability). It is hard to control or even coordinate between different businesses, data feeds and channel silos so that the organization can be truly focused on the customer—whether for optimizing communications, enhancing the customer experience, maximizing customer engagement or improving the bottom line.

It is not unusual for fast-growing channels, such as mobile or social, to be assigned to relatively youthful teams who understand these media and are comfortable working at the fast pace that is often required to keep up with these technologies. In fact, more often than not, we see digital marketing being managed separately from traditional marketing. However, these young, digitally focused teams sometimes lack history with the brand and the context of the overall customer relationship or marketing strategy, remaining disconnected from the rest of the organization. While these teams can be very good at developing marketing programs that take advantage of a specific data stream (e.g., using location data from a mobile phone to provide an offer that is relevant to a customer at a particular location), they often don’t take advantage of the customer’s full history to provide better context and relevance. Without context, we can’t know if the customer is responsive to a particular type of offer—or any offer, for that matter. Are the customers loyal? Would they buy, anyway? If so, then you’ve simply reduced your own margin by sending the offer. How has the individual reacted to similar offers through other channels? Is the preference for social channels as a medium of interaction?

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