Multichannel marketing has now become common. That’s one of the conclusions of a new report from Forrester, about marketing in the age of multiple ways to reach the customer.

The report, entitled The Multichannel Maturity Mandate, was commissioned by Sitecore, a provider of software for web content management and customer engagement.

Mature Practitioners in Multichannel Marketing

It found that 40 percent of survey respondents assessed themselves as being “mature practitioners” of marketing for multiple channels, and another 40 percent self-described as transitional. About 5 percent reported they had no plans to undertake multichannel marketing.

Mature multichannel marketers reported that they aggressively adopted new technologies, are more inclined to work with IT, and work more collaboratively with sales departments in setting goals.

The report recommends that companies “create a culture that worships customer knowledge,” and that marketers stop thinking about campaigns and start thinking about customer engagement. Toward that end, Forrester suggests a company’s website be transformed into a “pervasive customer engagement hub,” and that a company’s technical infrastructure be developed, alongside a trusted IT advisor.

Finally, the report said, companies need to embrace change management and choose outside technology partners who can immediately help deliver short-term gains.

Key Impediments to Multichannel Marketing

The study found that key impediments toward making multichannel marketing a greater priority included a lack of knowledge and skills, and a dependence on the skills of external marketing partners. For mature practitioners, the key areas for improvement were a greater integration between various marketing processes, often supported by new technologies.

The report found that a multichannel approach was needed to reach most customers at the touchpoints when they are open to marketing. These include discovering, searching, researching, sharing, getting help, evangelizing, using, deciding, suggesting to a friend, and, of course, purchasing.

Several benefits were cited as resulting from multichannel marketing. These include a 15 percent increase in impressions for 48 percent of respondents, and a 15 percent increase in customer satisfaction for 43 percent. Twenty-four percent found that sales cycle times were reduced by more than 15 percent.

Another benefit was in the performance of digital marketing campaigns by such metrics as improved clicks, conversion rates and customer engagement.

A revenue increase of more than 15 percent was reported by forty percent of mature multichannel marketers, and 60 percent said they had an increase of more than 10 percent in return-on-marketing investment. Other benefits include increased alignment between sales and marketing.

The study utilized an online survey of 226 organizations in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Scandinavian countries, Singapore, and the U.K., and was conducted in December, 2011.