Building a cross-channel roadmap – Part 1: The why

Individuals and companies alike are prone to conditioned habits of thinking and behavior. We find (or create) something that works and stick to it. In marketing parlance this might be known as a kind of ‘favorite child’ syndrome – the company comes to depend on one or two particularly successful modes of marketing, builds many, if not most, of its processes around them and loathe to abandon them. All of which is fine so long as the world you inhabit remains largely static and your customers and prospects remain equally faithful to those same favored practices.

Alas, ours is an increasingly dynamic world where marketing success is more likely to be the result of a channel-agnostic, personally relevant customer experience rather than yesterday’s habit-driven brand loyalty. And these days ‘personally relevant’ could be defined as a consistent, intelligent, individually meaningful experience across all corporate touchpoints. Not surprisingly, companies lacking effective cross-channel marketing programs today cite the multichannel phenomenon as their single biggest challenge. In an Experian Marketing Services’ recent survey featured in The 2013 Digital Marketer Report, we asked those same marketers to rank – in order of importance – their multichannel pain points.

The results show:

Response attribution is the biggest multichannel pain point for 35% of marketers surveyed.

  • Response attribution (35%) – Determining which channel, campaign or particular sequence of touchpoints were responsible for desired results. Too often companies mistakenly attribute success to the ‘last touch’ or ‘click’ that occurred prior to conversion. Unfortunately, this leaves the company in the dark as to all of the preceding channels the customer may have traveled before that conversion. This failure point, of course, has ramifications across the organization including employee rewards, budget allocation, targeting and much more.
  • Campaign coordination (22%) – Creating and managing campaign processes across multiple channels in a way that is seamless to consumers. A failure to properly coordinate across channels can result in consumers receiving redundant, confusing or ill-timed communications, offers, CTAs, etc., and create problems for other parts of the organization (e.g. sales, customer service, etc.).
  • Targeted messaging (19%) – Delivering the right message to the right customer in the right channel that drives desired action. Today’s consumer owns the buying cycle and expects to be engaged in the channel and on the device of his or her choice. Failure to do so almost certainly will result in poor results.
  • Budget allocation (18%) – Determining where best to allocate the same budget across a growing number of channels. Inter-organizational squabbling is still commonplace where ‘favorite child’ programs still receive the majority of budget, respect and authority.
  • Identity resolution (7%) – Correctly identifying and creating a single view of a consumer who engages the brand across multiple touchpoints. Until data from all channels is properly integrated, it is virtually impossible for organizations to develop a clear picture of a customer in a multichannel world.

The good news is that a sizeable majority of modern marketers recognize that “all the channels matter” and that the key to success is in determining “how they can work together,” says Maher Masri, an associate principal at McKinsey. The challenge? Cross-channel marketing “is still a daunting task to deliver on and it’s not clear where [companies] need to start.”1 The answer, in short, is to create a strategic cross-channel roadmap and accelerate the critical transformation of your conversation with your customer.

Stay tuned for part two of this post to venture into “the how,” which will provide steps and pointers to building a cross-channel roadmap, and download the full cross-channel roadmap white paper for more in-depth and extensive strategic insights.

1 http://cmsoforum.mckinsey.com/article/the-future-of-brick-mortar-retail-in-the-digital-era