Nothing could be more old school than multichannel marketing. However, the internet combined with the explosion of social media and smartphones has ushered in a new era of online multichannel marketing. It's evolving at click-speed and marketers are struggling to keep up.
As one of the first online communication channels, email has kept pace with these rapid-fire disruptions. In fact, savvy marketers have taken full advantage of email automation and data analytics to deliver highly targeted and relevant email communications. These messages have helped to develop profitable, long-lasting relationships with customers.
While email remains the hub of online marketing campaigns, relying on it solely isn't enough anymore. The combination of social media and mobile devices has created an “always on and always connected” culture where consumers rule. Give people what they want, how they want it and when they want it. Worst-case scenario? They tune you out.
This is where the concept of multichannel relevance comes in. Multichannel relevance means delivering the right message at the right time to consumers via their preferred communication channels. This approach requires marketers to develop tightly integrated multichannel marketing campaigns backed by data analytics and automation technologies. Marketers have been evolving in this direction for some time, and this is the year when multichannel relevance will become the cornerstone strategy.
Here's what you can expect in the year of multichannel relevance:
- Marketers will behave more like consumers when communicating with customers. You know who your friends are and how you're most likely to communicate with them. For example, Julie texts, Karen posts to Facebook, Bob emails and your mom only uses the phone. In 2011, marketers will move more purposefully in this direction by conducting conversations tailored to their customers’ lifestyles and preferences. An increasing number of marketers will also provide consumers with options to select their channel of choice for connecting with them, including email, SMS, mobile web and social networking sites. Consumers already rule; this will put the power of choice squarely into their hands.
- Relevance in new channels becomes critical. Providing multichannel communications for consumers is the first step, but marketers can’t stop there. Regardless of channel, consumers expect and will accept nothing short of “extreme relevance.” Marketers have to embody the principles of relevance in all channels or risk losing contact with customers, who will opt out or stop listening.
- Marketers will connect traditional media to direct response media. Connecting traditional media to newer forms of direct response media — e.g., adding SMS calls to action on billboards, print/broadcast ads and fliers — will grow in 2011. These approaches offer consumers more on-the-fly response options while also providing marketers with invaluable response data for tracking the results of integrated multichannel campaigns.
- Identifying the optimal media mix for enhancing the performance of multichannel marketing efforts will challenge marketers. With the help of return on investment attribution tools, marketers can now gain metric-based comparative insight into campaign performance across multiple channels, including email, paid search, banner ads, affiliate programs and more. A growing number of marketers will apply those insights to targeted customer segments by combining the optimal marketing mix mapped to consumer preferences. The result will be more profitable responses to campaigns, not to mention long-term relationships established with customers who are getting exactly what they want at the right time in the buying cycle.
- The walls come tumbling down between mobile, social and email. The lines have been blurring between email, mobile and social for some time, and the introduction of Facebook Messages signaled the acceleration of this trend. In an increasingly "always on and always connected" world revolving around mobile devices and social networking sites, tightly integrated multichannel campaigns will no longer be an ambition for marketers, but a necessity. Email will remain the hub for multichannel campaigns, especially for one-to-one communication, lead nurturing and transactional messages driving revenue. Social media campaigns driving awareness, brand building and consumer engagement will be tightly integrated with email promotions, enabling marketers to reach consumers of all ages according to their preferences.
The convergence of mobile, social and email will continue to accelerate while new online marketing channels and approaches emerge that we can’t even imagine today. That’s why it’s crucial to make 2011 the year to take a closer look at your marketing strategy. Ask yourself if you’re truly practicing multichannel relevance. Marketers who fail to adapt will lose engagement and connection with their audience. The time to evolve to multichannel relevance is now.