Coordinating a Multichannel Targeting Solution
Empowered consumers shop and buy across multiple channels with ease, mandating brands to serve them a consistent, relevant experience. Forrester Research indicates multichannel buyers spend four times to five times more than single-channel buyers, yet fewer than 35 percent of marketers track customer behavior across channels. No wonder that while 80 percent of CEOs believe their brand provides a superior customer experience, just 8 percent of their customers agree.
To delight consumers and serve them relevant, engaging and consistent experiences, brands must align their resources to create a cohesive and comprehensive understanding of them. After sending out campaigns, marketers need to understand everything in order to recalibrate and optimize the next interaction. The better understood the customer, the more coordinated and personalized the experience that marketers can provide.
However, marketers struggle to achieve this level of customer centricity. While many leading brands forge ahead with best-of-breed and customized platform silos, most take incremental steps because the right mix of technology, skills and processes aren't yet available in an integrated, centralized, easy-to-use package.
B-to-C flashback to B-to-B
This strongly resembles the B-to-B, CRM and SFA space 10 years to 15 years ago when businesses needed a centralized view of individual customers but integrating among systems was difficult and expensive. These product categories had different communities of developers, support and platforms, each dealing with various versions of the customer, as did finance, sales and tech support. Customers grew frustrated because each time they spoke with someone they had a different, inconsistent experience.
When the large CRM vendors built integrated ecosystems, different channels fed into a single, centralized place where the business tools consolidated. Thus the B-to-B integration challenge was solved. The B-to-C world is similar, but deals with much bigger problems when it comes to the scale of the prospect, customer base and numerous variations of a consumer profile. To achieve this integrated vision, companies need to ask themselves these questions:
- How do you link the numerous versions of a consumer profile together to create a consolidated view?
- What changes are needed to centralize and coordinate targeting and treatment across channels?
- What post-campaign knowledge should be collected from each channel and what's required to get the maximum lift from the next campaign iteration?
- Should you integrate channels like social media and web browsing to layer intent signals to inform campaigns? If so, how?
Today, no out-of-the-box solution does any of this — although the technologies to start building these capabilities are available. Marketers should think about applying these concepts, starting with two channels or three channels, using a low-tech approach as a way of learning and better understanding the full potential of a coordinated, multichannel consumer targeting solution.
Building the case by patterns
Marketing leaders don't ask "How can I make email better?" but rather "How can I get a consumer to buy? How can I waste less and focus more on qualified prospects?" This entails identifying patterns where people spend their time, coordinating targeting wherever they are with relevant content that resonates and increases engagement. When a .08 percent digital conversion rate means 99.02 percent aren't buying, there are a lot of opportunities to deliver more relevant offers by using the knowledge your customers already gave you. Here are two simple examples:
- A consumer received a digital camera offer on a publisher site but didn't respond to the offer. Two days earlier, however, that same consumer clicked through an email campaign for a laptop deal, but ultimately didn't make a purchase. If this information was shared with the digital advertising team, it could target that consumer with a compelling laptop offer on the publisher site.
- A digital advertising team targets a consumer who browsed luxury auto reviews with luxury auto offers. However, that person, a 26-year-old male with two children who has an income of $32,000, would have been disqualified if the client leveraged offline consumer data in addition to web browsing/intent data.
Much of the wasted money and wasted opportunities can be avoided by leveraging what you already know across marketing channels.
Campaigns are iterative, so analyze results to make choices based on what you've learned from each one so you understand the proper sequence when you send someone a piece of direct mail, then an email and then an online ad. Without having brought them all together, knowing the cadence and connecting the touches when the recipient activated the offer, makes it hard to understand whom you're targeting, the frequency and what's actually working.
Coordinating multichannel targeting is valid because I see wasted opportunities every single day. For example, an apparel retailer emails me women's handbags and women's shoe offers, followed by a men's suit catalog via direct mail the next day. As a single male, this company has it completely wrong. This is precisely similar to the CRM challenge 10 years ago, only now we're applying this solution to a much bigger B-to-C problem.
Integrating and aggregating different customer channel data helps marketers see these types of patterns when they send certain messages to certain types of people at particular frequencies via certain channels. Studying these patterns will reveal who converts and what percentage correlates to certain channels. This data influences media spend to where customers are active and attribution becomes more tangible over time.
Start by using what already works and build on that
Now that marketers have the technologies to start building these capabilities, they should start thinking about how to coordinate their multichannel targeting and pulling their data together into a single resource.
Select the best source that's given you positive results to date (this should represent a solid way to reach and engage your customers). Direct mail is usually an area where you can collect a lot of information about your target audience.
You can also work with your marketing partners to blend customer information back into direct mail. Apply that knowledge and the creative concepts and content that your customers want and coordinate those with other offers and channels to blend them into those customer segments.
Don't be discouraged if at first you don't bring all the analytics together into a single database, which can be expensive. Start by identifying how these pieces all flow together and where the interesting activities are moving in those different channels. By tracking that data you can gain a better understanding of which channel that audience spends the most time responding to.
For example, if 20 percent of recipients clicked on an email and that equates to a 5 percent, 2 percent or 1 percent conversion rate, you'll learn certain types of things about that audience. What they're interested in, which channel they shop compared to where they buy, etc. How can that shared knowledge be used in the next iteration to improve relevance? Understanding where your audience spends its time helps you ensure a consistent message across channels as well as reducing wasted opportunities, helping you to have a conversation with them.
Coordinating consistency across channels
The more customer data and insight you build in your system, the more it can help increase your brand's relevance with its audience. Bringing these together can be used to create offers that are applicable to the person/segment you're marketing to. That coordination will give you more marketing lift than anything else.
New marketing technology is moving in this direction. If you can get adept at these capabilities and apply the right treatment and creative by coordinating direct mail efforts with the creative teams that are sending similar ads and offers in the digital space, then you can start to bring these channels together. Doing so will reduce inefficiency and deliver relevant and engaging customer experiences, enabling a companywide customer-centric culture that resonates from top to bottom.
There must be coordination around timing, offer and channel when targeting consumers. If you can manage those things while collecting data to understand how they all work together, even if you don't assimilate all that data in one place, you'll improve results and gain a competitive edge. Eventually the marketing platforms in the B-to-C space will come up with a centralized view. The marketers who can improve their ability to manage these ideas and the cultural shift necessary to enable this vision will be well ahead of the game.