Multi-Channel Marketing is Dead - Long Live the Channel of ONE
How many times have you heard marketers talk about “channels?” My guess is, too many to count. Marketers lose sleep worrying about how to reach their customer across specific channels.
They dedicate teams of employees and precious budget dollars to managing these separate entities—social media, email, text, mobile apps … the list is endless these days.
But there’s a problem. Customers don’t think in terms of channels. Customers think about how brands are able to deliver value to them at every interaction. So marketers need to think about customers as the single all-important channel of ONE.
I’m not suggesting it’s useless to look at the efficacy of different marketing channels. On the contrary, I believe such analysis is crucial to devising successful, customer-centric marketing campaigns. The trick, however, is to look at the data gathered from multiple channels to gain a clearer perspective on customer behavior – and use that insight to engage with them at the
right time, at the right place, with the right message. For instance, it’s not about whether social media is an effective marketing “strategy”; it’s about understanding how customers use social media to interact with brands so we can deliver meaningful engagement that strengthens our messages and drive higher revenues.
To make informed decisions about marketing tactics aimed at influencing customer behavior, we must use data. The type of analysis described above can and should be based on hard numbers that detail when, where and how customers choose to interact with their favorite brands. Unfortunately, the vast majority of marketers still rely too much on intuition, incorporating data into only 11 percent of their customer-related decisions, according to a recent CEB study of nearly 800 marketers at Fortune 1000 companies. Using pure intuition can result in untargeted, irrelevant and disconnected messages that have a negative impact on brands and ultimately destroy customer relationships. Imagine how I felt the other day when I received an email about an unbeatable membership rate at my neighborhood gym … the same gym I paid a higher rate to join one month prior. This promotion should not have landed in my inbox. Why would I tell my friends about a great offer from a place I now feel has ripped me off?
My gym could have avoided upsetting me by generating data on paying and prospective customers and using the information to segment their customer base and communications. In more complex situations marketers can apply predictive algorithms to reduce the number of errors that come from broadly implemented channel-based tactics.
Perhaps the shift to data sounds intimidating. Let me assure you that it need not be. The necessary technology exists, as do the algorithms for putting the data to use. Right now, data is disconnected from marketing, but I predict the near future holds the marriage of the two: A real-time data and messaging automation platform that will gather customer intelligence and automatically translates it into profitable marketing activities. I foresee a marketing culture that doesn’t fear data, but rather embraces it and uses it to develop new revenue opportunities.
To prepare for this transformation, marketers must take but one crucial step. They must tear down the existing multi-channel infrastructure and start to view digital marketing in terms of one unified channel—the customer channel of ONE.
Alex Lustberg, VP of marketing for Lyris (www.lyris.com)