Innovate to multi-channel marketing and beyond

In the early 1900s, Ford Motor Company revolutionized the automotive industry with the introduction of the assembly line. It was an innovation that opened the door to a more efficient system resulting in mass production and, ultimately, increased consumer demand.

As markets and consumer behavior evolve, the most successful businesses are those that constantly look to improve their strategies and processes to better meet changing demands. This especially holds true in today’s digital age where consumers are adopting new communication channels and devices at an unprecedented rate.

As marketers, it is our duty to help our companies evolve and adapt communications to enable improved customer engagement, purchasing behavior and loyalty. According to a recent Forrester Consulting study entitled: “The Multichannel Maturity Mandate,”

“The approach that marketers have adopted to manage and optimize customer engagement across the burgeoning landscape of customer touchpoints is generally referred to as multichannel marketing.” 1

The study reports key findings and statistics reflecting 226 surveyed marketing professionals that represent various companies across a range of verticals. As a culmination of the research, Forrester analysts discovered that the majority of marketers consider multi-channel marketing an industry norm that, if executed effectively, garners considerable gains and, if not, devastating losses. Conversely, an ample portion of the survey participants also indicated that although they perceive multi-channel marketing as a definite opportunity for improvement, a full transition is not an immediate business priority.

In fact, many marketers view a transition into a fully integrated multi-channel marketing strategy as a daunting task that may even appear to be unattainable. Forrester categorizes companies into four levels of “multichannel maturity.” Experian Marketing Services has developed a similar identification model called “The Marketing Sophistication Curve℠.”


Forrester’s Levels of Multichannel Maturity                        Experian’s levels of Marketing Sophistication

Channel Entropy                                                                             Channel execution

Channel Independence                                                                  Channel optimization

Multichannel Integration                                                              Multi-channel marketing

Multichannel Engagement                                                            Cross-channel optimization

The Marketing Sophistication Curve serves as a starting point for organizations to first determine where they stand in today’s complex marketing ecosystem in order to glean insights and recommendations on how to best progress toward true “cross-channel optimization” – the equivalent to what Forrester describes as “Multichannel Engagement.”

With Forrester reporting that 40% of marketers indicate that they are in transition, The Marketing Sophistication Curve, paired with the industry guidance, becomes especially useful to organizations that realize the need to advance their multi-channel marketing efforts, but are unsure where exactly they stand and where to enhance their capabilities.

Although many multi-channel marketers may be just pushing off of the starting line, they should not feel as though they are running the race alone. It is a long journey to the finish line of cross-channel optimization – full of hurdles and pain points that everyone in the industry is tackling at their own pace.

“Even the most mature practitioners struggle to support integrated customer interactions across multiple channels. Our research indicates that there is a real opportunity to take multichannel marketing to the next level.”

 The fact is that marketers can never stop looking for ways to enhance and improve their strategies. Those that do will be faced with declining ROI, and diminishing revenues. Circling back to my opening proclamation about the importance of innovation, after only a few years of modernizing and manufacturing the automobile in the form of a Model T Ford, Henry Ford realized the true danger of complacency. This revelation in the face of declining demand eventually spurred Ford’s initiative to design new customized models available in a variety of different colors.

Businesses need to stay relevant to their core customer base. It is an absolute requirement for success. This entails a constant thirst for improved processes, strategies and ultimately for progression.

1The Multichannel Maturity Mandate,” a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Sitecore, May 2012