Make multi-channel marketing a breeze
By Jeff Hassemer
Marketers and printers face difficult and new challenges every year,
every month; every day, even. Consumers now have more ways to interact
with companies than ever before, and they are demanding a consistent,
personalized experience across channels.
Yet, it is difficult for companies to maximize the opportunity across
this increasing number of channels, and we all know that maximizing the
return on our marketing dollar is key. The difficulty is exacerbated by
constrained resources, increasing competition, stagnant or decreasing response
rates, and increasing regulation to how and when we get the consumer's
Part of the issue is that traditional methods marketers use to communicate
with customers do not enable them to adapt to new channels efficiently
and effectively. The "batch and blast" approach to direct marketing
is time consuming because marketers spend a lot of their time assembling
the associated parts of a direct marketing campaign; that being the list,
the offer and the creative.
Today's current process tends to involve a lot of detail and difficult
work pulling a list of customers, putting together solid creative and offers,
loading these into the marketing systems or moving them down to the print
shops or call centers, and then assembling the messages. If the medium
is email and dynamic content is involved, it often becomes even worse.
Once the list, offer and creative are assembled, then the marketer must
go about the process of scheduling and executing the campaign. There is
little time left for the high value activities such as analysis and planning,
so marketers are forced to spend their time in this endless cycle of getting
campaigns out the door.
In the meantime, the pace of technology adoption continues to increase.
As direct marketers, we now not only have traditional direct mail, call
centers and email at our disposal, but now we need to take into account
such media as search engine marketing, mobile marketing, web offer management,
behavioral targeting and social media. How can marketers adopt to these
new channels when they are in a constant cycle to keep up with the current
demands of their jobs? How can one innovate and accept new channels into
the marketing mix? Why is it important to do so?
Multi-channel marketing is imperative
It is important to do so because we find ourselves in a world of consumer
choice. Customers are now able to interact with companies in a multitude
of ways, at their convenience, and in a way that is very personal to
them. For companies to satisfy their customer base, they must be able
to adopt the channels that the customers are using, or prefer to use,
and meet that customer with the right experience. In addition, marketers
now need to understand how these channels work together in their marketing
eco-system so that decisions are not made in silos, which takes time,
energy and knowledge of all channels.
Organizations must learn to orient themselves toward the ability
to evaluate and adopt new channels with minimal disruption to the current
workflow. Determining how these new technologies affect your customer base
will become a key marketing discipline over the next few years.
Two paths to integration
There are essentially two ways marketing executives can begin to tackle
this growing problem. One is to hire more people. This path is both time
consuming and expensive. Additionally, hiring only works if you can generate
enough revenue from the new channels to offset the cost.
The second way to increase innovation is to automate direct marketing
efforts. Marketers must learn to take advantage of technology available
today to automate what works in their marketing efforts and spend time
innovating their customer experiences in order to be effective.
To become effective in today's world, marketing must evolve into a more
streamlined approach; an approach that not only generates demand via outbound
marketing campaigns, but also captures demand through automated messages
that take into account who the consumer is, where he or she is in the customer
lifecycle and what channels the person prefers.
A combination of campaign- and program-oriented approaches where messages
to customers are automated based on a set schedule (such as a campaign),
or triggered when a consumer begins to interact with the company (as in
a program), can prove very effective. Within this environment, messages
are individualized to the customer based on known demographic and behavioral
information. It blends the disciplines of the traditional approach of targeting
a message to the consumer with the processes of the real-time approach,
which triggers a message based on specific customer behavior. This creates
a cycle that is both more individualized to the customer and visible to
the marketer, as well as delivers maximum value to the customers and the
This all sounds grand, but you may be saying to yourself that it sounds
like a lot of work; and you would be right…sort of. To execute this
type of marketing strategy takes planning and technology. The great news
is that the technology is available today. Even better, executing a strategy
like this can increase time available for analysis and optimization of
your marketing efforts, which is critical to the next planning phases of
your marketing efforts.
So, the question is, where does a marketer start?