Personalized marketing is nothing new. It’s been around for decades and marketers have reaped its benefits.

However, what is new — at least compared to personalization — is cross-channel marketing, particularly in relation to the potential number of digital channels.

As consumers incorporate technology into more aspects of their daily lives, they meander across channels and devices as needed, seeking answers, solutions, products, entertainment and more. Along the way, they're expressing their own brand of digital body language: a combination of interest, intent and preferences.

Addressing Customer Needs, Interest, Urgency

The best customers engage with brands across multiple channels. They’re the ones with the deepest need, highest interest and greatest urgency.

And brands that deliver value to customers across channels see strong growth.

How much growth?

Cross-Channel Sales Are Growing

According to Forrester, cross-channel retail sales in the US alone will be nearly $2 trillion by 2018.

There's no longer any question that delivering a strong cross-channel experience is paramount for success.

There are numerous opportunities for engagement and return-on-investment through personalization across channels.

But brands across all industries still struggle to achieve what's possible: only 5 percent of marketers rate themselves as “very much set up" to effectively orchestrate cross-channel marketing activities.

The Gap Between Promise and Reality

Why the disparity? In a word: Technology. The aforementioned 5 percent who are effectively orchestrating cross-channel marketing activities are doing so because they are using the right marketing technology (MarTech).

Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Get the right MarTech and be on your merry way.

If it were only that easy.

To say the marketing technology landscape or ecosystem is a crowded space would be an understatement of monumental proportions. The challenge is not that the tools simply aren’t available.

To cite the widely quoted numbers from Scott Brinker, there are nearly 4,000 MarTech solutions now available — up more than 2500 percent since 2011.

Today, it’s easy to batch and blast a broadcast message to email, social and mobile audiences.

But to really understand the path to purchase, marketers have to decipher interaction data that spans customer journeys, channels and campaigns. And too many marketers lack the one single thing that transforms the cross-channel personalization problem into an opportunity.

Single Customer Identity

What's that, you ask? Your organization needs to have a single customer identity — a clear view of each customer that unites their behaviors across all channels into one comprehensive profile.

Today, certain technologies can link all the unique cross-channel identifiers of a customer together. Once you have a single unique identifier, you can really know your customers across channels and begin to:

  • Personalize interactions based on channel preferences and behaviors
  • Reach a more precise level of targeting and segmentation by using cross channel behavioral information in real time
  • And most importantly, integrate cross channel communications and speak to each customer with a single voice regardless of channel

Many marketing technology vendors can execute on some aspects of personalization. And some might even be able to help marketers target their customer better.

But the ability to actually use personalization and targeting to integrate cross-channel communications differentiates modern marketing solutions from other, less comprehensive and home-built alternatives.

By unifying cross-channel identities and creating campaigns on a scalable cross-channel program canvas, the right technology empowers marketers to reach new levels of digital sophistication and solve the personalization puzzle.

Title image "Puzzle" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by hans-jürgen2013