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Omnichannel Marketers Trapped in a Multichannel World

2014-01-July-US-Soccer.jpgWith all eyes focused on World Cup matches, it got me thinking about how the teamwork and coordination in the games are not unlike running a multichannel marketing campaign. Beyond the fact that both have a specific start and end date, there’s also a team of designated players banding together to accomplish a very measurable result. While only one player puts the ball into the net, everyone on the team contributes to that result.

The parallels between the game and omnichannel marketing and attribution go even deeper. Let me explain.

Following the Channels 

Like the soccer field with its 11 players on each side, it’s not surprising to see marketers employ upwards of 11 channels to drive a single campaign. Meanwhile, customers, much like the ball in play, are carving out their own journey and no two paths are exactly alike. Once the marketers get the customer to the goal, a.k.a. conversion, it’s a win for the entire team. Yet this gets tricky in the marketing world, as each channel takes credit for the results. And it gets even more complex as you move from multichannel to omnichannel.

As much as technology has evolved to provide us with many ways to reach customers, the ability to accurately track campaign performance across all channels has gotten unwieldy. Without complete transparency into how results are determined and channels are credited, omnichannel marketing will stagnate at the multichannel level.

To address this issue, many expert recommendations tend to fall either in the theoretical strategy camp or rest solely in the technology. Anybody who’s tried to integrate the two worlds knows that the ideas on paper don’t always align in the real world — but there is a way to bridge the two. To start, let’s look at the current approaches to analyzing campaign performance from both a technical and a theoretical point of view.

Getting to the Truth in Marketing Performance 

On many levels, it makes sense to rely on technology to aggregate and analyze campaign performance data. However, there are three primary challenges with this approach. The first is the widespread use of black-box algorithms, which lack transparency. This leads to the second issue, which is the potential for conflicting results. Third is the fact that many technologies are limited in their ability to factor in certain nuances from a marketer’s experience. Without that real world interpretation of results, certain marketing channels may be over or under utilized, resulting in lopsided budget allocations.

From a theoretical point of view, everybody agrees that the last click and first click models are dead, yet they’re still widely used. It’s not from a lack of alternatives but rather out of a (bad) habit. To move forward as an industry and fully execute omnichannel campaigns, attribution models should include the following three elements.

  1. A tiered system that credits each channel’s contributions to the sale accordingly.
  2. An understanding of how individual channels, and which combination of channels, influenced the customer journey.
  3. Transparency into the methodology used to determine credit.

Sounds great in theory, but how do you go from mapping out a plan to full execution? While each organization will have its own approach based on specific business needs, following are five requirements for successful omnichannel campaigns that will acknowledge all parties involved and, most importantly, benefit the customer.

  1. Assemble a cross-functional team that includes representatives from each marketing channel as well as marketing operations.
  2. Determine which attribution model you’ll use before launching a campaign. It’s important to change up your models based on specific campaign goals. Also, using different models allows you to get deeper insights into your target audience.
  3. Share your commission or payment structure with third party vendors at the onset of the campaign to avoid any potential confusion.
  4. Factor in hard performance metrics but don’t lose sight of the softer metrics. For example, a branding campaign may not drive record sales results, but it’s just as important as sales driven campaigns.
  5. Trust, but verify results. In the ideal scenario, marketers have a comprehensive and transparent view into the performance of each channel. With this in mind, you may want to consider tapping into a third party with expertise in omnichannel marketing. This can streamline processes while also demonstrating that you have an unbiased and transparent approach to analyzing and rewarding results.

In the crowded digital marketing landscape, the ability to get to the truth in advertising performance is still a significant challenge. However, with the right omnichannel attribution foundation in place, marketers will be able to move beyond multichannel and into omnichannel for even stronger campaign results.

Title image by AGIF / Shutterstock.com

About the Author

Tony Zito is president of Rakuten Marketing. Tony is a seasoned entrepreneur with more than 20 years experience developing successful start-up technologies companies.

 
 
 
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