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With so many marketing channels and marketing tools, and with customers expecting so much, should marketing campaigns themselves be re-invented? A new report from Forrester Research argues that it’s time to reimagine big-gun campaigns as marketing orchestration.

Image from "The Rise of Marketing Orchestration" report

Coordinated Marketing

The report, “The Rise of Marketing Orchestration,” was conducted by Forrester and sponsored by relationship marketing firm Responsys, which focused on marketing orchestration. Responsys defines marketing orchestration as the appropriate approach for the “Post-Campaign Era.”  Marketers have moved beyond single channel marketing. They want to provide every consumer with “a highly personalized experience that maps to each individual’s unique journey from discovery to purchase to re-purchase.”

Or, as Forrester describes it, marketing orchestration is “An approach to marketing that focuses not on delivering standalone campaigns, but instead on optimizing a set of related cross-channel interactions that, when added together, make up an individualized customer experience.”

For this report, Forrester surveyed 200 senior marketing and ad pros in the US and UK. The study found that marketers can no longer use “a campaign-centric (instead of a customer-centric) methodology,” marketers need to employ coordinated marketing across all touchpoints that are not batch- or calendar-based, and customers are not interacting with brands in a sequential or linear way.

Marketers may understand these principles, but the study claims they’re having trouble adapting. Forrester said marketers are often falling back “on traditional campaign approaches that amp up the volume” and increase the level of noise by increasing investments in mass and untargeted media, when more coordination is needed. The focus, the report said, should not be on total impressions or click-through rates that generate “an unorchestrated jumble of interactions,” but instead should be a total messaging experience designed for each customer.

The fundamental cause of this situation is the always addressable customer, who uses at least three devices, one of which is mobile. Forrester said in 2011 that 37 percent of US online adults fit into that category, which grew to 42 percent by 2012. By the end of this year, Forrester predicts half of all online adults on the planet will be always-addressable.

Single Identity

The report quotes an unnamed “senior marketing leader” at a multibrand retailer, who said “consumers expect a personal and relevant experience, and in the past when you did it right, they were surprised and delighted,” but now it’s an expectation. The new normal is the complex customer journey.

Bar code scanners, comparison pricing apps and search engines are among the tools that are quickly changing the traditional purchase funnel into a customer journey. But the upside is that customers want a continuing relationship with brands they enjoy. Fifty-four percent want to do so to find deals, 41 percent to get free samples and 33 percent to learn about new products or services.

The study contends that marketing orchestration can deliver an individualized customer experience while returning higher revenue, increased loyalty and greater internal efficiency to the marketer.

A key component of marketing orchestration, of course, is establishing a single identity for customers across interactions, using cookies, sign-ons, email addresses, mobile IDs and other techniques, and then merging these multiple instances into one identity.

Change Is Happening

Companies also need to capture and manage all interactions from all channels, blended with data from third-party sources. With these profiles and interaction history, marketers can then direct messages, content and offers to customers when they are most appropriate by embracing responsive design techniques and “right-time, cross-channel automation and execution.” Triggers can deliver actions and predictive analytics can anticipate customer behavior, based on historical patterns for that user and others like him.

Evolution occurs in stages, as does marketing evolution, and Forrester said marketers can expect to evolve from single-channel marketing campaigns with customers treated as groups, to single-channel campaign automation based on customer events and actions, to orchestration of individual interactions across channels.

While report sponsor Responsys is a key proponent of marketing orchestration, the report codifies a coordinated, market-to-individuals-at-the-appropriate-time approach that is commonly promoted by up-to-date marketers. Unfortunately, there are virtually no statistics or case histories in this report to back up any of its conclusions, and some of its recommendations – tracking a single identity across multiple channels, for instance – is still an unachievable goal for many marketing automation systems.

Nevertheless, the change is a-happening, and this Forrester report lays down a vision of what marketing in the age of King Customer is becoming.