Multichannel Marketing in 2012: 3 Key Insights

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Multichannel marketing in practice is hard and will become even more challenging to create delightful customer experiences across channels with a single brand identity without the right strategy and tools. While customers usually accept different levels of interaction across a growing number of channels and devices, they expect the overall experience to be one and the same. In a recent article, Deloitte pointed out that “Multi-channel customers are increasingly the most sophisticated, demanding and time-starved customers; they’re also among the most valuable… who often spend three-to-four times more on retail purchases than their single-channel counterparts.” So it is clear the hard work to attract and engage multichannel customers is well worth it, when done right.

The Keys to Effective Multichannel Marketing

One of marketing’s main missions is to attract and grow a vital customer base. With the growth of social media and proactive customers, brand perceptions are frequently influenced by customer interactions and the experiences they have with companies. Even well-crafted marketing campaigns can be undermined by too many poor customer experiences.

Multichannel marketers can greatly improve outcomes in 2012 by incorporating three insights into how they craft their strategies to achieve a single overall and high-quality experience for customers across all channels:

  1. Consistent, high-quality customer and brand experiences across all channels serve to achieve competitive differentiation.
  2. Superior customer experiences lead to revenue growth by increasing brand loyalty and the likelihood for repeat purchases and recommendations.
  3. Integrated marketing management platforms are essential for meeting the challenges of multichannel marketing and to derive a single view of the customer to craft consistent customer experiences.

1. Quality Customer Experiences Across All Channels

An integrated and consistent multichannel customer experience can provide competitive market differentiation for many companies. “One customer experience” is a top goal for many companies, but very few are currently able to deliver it:

When asked about their ability to deliver a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels, only 10% of the respondents in the e-tailing group’s 2011 Merchant Survey were confident that they could do so for their customers. Meanwhile, 46% of retailers are planning to implement programs that promote a seamless cross-channel experience by the end of 2012."

Marketers will have to take a broader view of the customer experience to orchestrate offers and interactions that will appeal to customers and that are appropriate for particular channels. Through analytics and marketing innovation, detailed and integrated customer experience strategies are designed to correspond to customer needs and market opportunities. These strategies are accompanied by integrated marketing programs and campaigns.

Multichannel marketers achieve goals by delivering customer experiences that create unforgettable moments for the brand. Strategies for customer experience excellence focus on the customer needs and wants while strengthening brand identity. Some of the best experiences of brands online have moved from selling products to selling experiences by enabling customers to “create” their own brand stories. Brand usage of social media provides a vibrant venue for customer experience story-telling, such as the Coach Mother’s Day invitation to customers to share “favorite memories of you, your Mom and Coach.” Coach enriched the overall experience by specifically inviting several fashion influencers to contribute their memories.

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Source: Fashionably Marketing.Me

2. Top-Notch Experiences to Spur Year-Round Revenue Growth

A great deal of marketing focus falls on singular retail events like Cyber Monday: ComScore research shows that Cyber Monday 2011 reached $1.25 billion in online sales, an increase of 22% over 2010. It was also the highest online spending day in history. Obviously the main impetus for Cyber Monday is Holiday shopping. But it is equally obvious that marketers who focused on providing superior online customer and brand experiences likely drove a good deal of that Cyber Monday revenue. The flip side of the Cyber Monday success is the many horror stories all over the internet of customers who abandoned shopping carts and moved on to other vendors because an eTailer experience did not meet expectations or needs. The added risk for that eTailer is that the customer will not return.


Source: Bashfoo

Stand-out customer experiences are an important component of multichannel marketing to attain year-round revenue growth. Forrester has found a strong relationship between the quality of the customer experience and ongoing loyalty. In this sense, loyalty means: “willingness to consider the company for another purchase, likelihood to switch providers and likelihood to recommend.” The smallest shifts in customer loyalty can translate into billions of dollars of incremental revenue each year for firms. One example: B2B company CDW drove $230 million in incremental revenue in just one year by following up on sales leads identified through customer loyalty surveys. While achieving revenue growth is of great importance to show the value of marketing programs, of equal importance is sustaining loyalty and “intimacy” with the customer, to continue to drive future revenue opportunities.

For marketers to communicate the value of customer experience to the business, one or more key metrics should be selected that can be tracked and analyzed. Once metrics are identified, marketers can evaluate how increases in those metrics translate into ROI and revenue. The well-known Net Promoter Score can provide a solid measure that is directly related to customer experience ratings in several industries. Net Promoter Score is not just an interesting metric -- it has proven to lead to revenue growth.

Learning Opportunities

3. Platforms for Managing Integrated Multichannel Marketing Really Do Make a Difference

Marketers not only need strategies and agile processes for integrated multichannel customer experiences, but also need a unified marketing platform to help them execute and manage the components to achieve those strategies. A unified marketing management platform puts more power in the hands of marketers to do their work every day, without constant intervention from IT. Such a platform should be a sophisticated and highly usable solution that integrates many different marketing tools into a cohesive whole. This enables marketers to create, manage and monitor their multichannel programs and campaigns from beginning to end.

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Source: Adam Needles, Propelling Brands (original)

A unified marketing management platform provides a solid means to optimize multichannel marketing and customer interactions. Marketers need such a platform to quickly roll out campaigns, to run them, and then to quickly optimize, report results and integrate with other systems such as CRM. This platform must also help to connect marketing initiatives to customer interactions. Marketers need to be able to measure and analyze the results of their efforts, in the context of overall company strategic goals and desired business outcomes.

Integrated marketing management leads to understanding and orchestration of interactions with customers based on a single view of the customer. Sustaining such a single view across all channels, engagement instances, products, and time is not an easy task, but is likely to provide a lucrative path to meeting and exceeding customer expectations, while providing competitive differentiation and successful outcomes for marketers.

The One Constant of Multichannel Experience: The Customer

The transition to customer-focused marketing strategies continues to gain momentum, as it provides more opportunity than ever to drive growth, and sustain relevance from the customer perspective. To make the transition successfully, marketers need an integrated marketing management platform that takes a holistic approach to solving critical challenges across marketing -- from formulating strategy, to gaining insight from data and analytics, to optimizing customer interactions and especially, to understanding how to nurture top-notch customer experiences that influence positive brand perception and loyalty.

  • Ensure all the various elements of a marketing campaign support the same goal and are seen as connected in the eyes of the customer -- efforts begin and end with the customer.
  • Execute with excellence -- handle challenges and strategy / tactic changes with agility while keeping the customer experience in mind, relying on an integrated marketing management platform to pull it all together.
  • Test and measure, analyze, adjust, improve how marketing contributes to excellent customer experiences.
  • Significant brand differentiation can be achieved through high-quality customer experiences during the entire customer lifecycle, resulting in revenue growth.

More and more marketers have the means to provide consistent, high-quality interactions in many channels, while making sure the same positive experience carries over from one channel to another. Achieving high-quality, effective interactions can be accomplished with a lot of hard work based on a dynamic and strategic mix of people, practices, processes, and integrated marketing management.


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About the author

Kevin Cochrane

Kevin Cochrane is SVP of Product Marketing at Acquia. He has been a leader in the content management industry since its inception, leading marketing teams at Interwoven, Alfresco, Adobe and BloomReach.