The number of ways in which marketers can reach out to customers and prospects has grown rapidly in the past decade as traditional channels such as outbound telephone and direct mail have been complemented by email and emerging technologies, including mobile marketing and social computing. This broader range of choices has created a new challenge for marketing organisations: ensuring that they meet customers’ channel preferences while presenting consistent and coordinated information across all channels.
To do this effectively requires a single view of each customer or prospect and the ability to centrally drive campaigns that span both traditional and emerging channels. Marketers that persist in treating channels as independent silos will suffer from continued declines in response rates and weakened customer relationships.
Most marketers understand and practice ‘multi-channel marketing’. But they are simply inferring that their organisation conducts campaigns over more than one channel; those run in one channel are typically independent of those in other channels and often run by autonomous teams. “Cross-channel” is different – it denotes the ability to drive campaigns that span across channels – same campaign, same messages, across channels. Multi-channel isn’t necessarily coordinated, consistent or enlightened by a customer’s inter-channel responses; cross-channel is.
Multi-channel marketing is however where most organisations are right now. This often results in mixed and outdated direct marketing messages which can be confusing and frustrating for the customer. There is little more annoying than to receive a tempting offer via email, and to call up about it, only to find the call agent doesn’t know anything about that particular email-only offer – and can’t honour it. Or to receive a communication via direct mail that clearly fails to recognise your online communications with the same company, just last week. It is a situation organisations can easily avoid by switching from a multi-channel marketing approach to a centrally coordinated cross-channel one.
Running a cross-channel strategy requires a centralised marketing database and single customer view (SCV) from which all campaigns will evolve. To ensure up-to-the minute relevancy in communications, it must be possible to automatically and immediately update the SCV for interactions occurring in any channel, and generate relevant and timely communications responses quickly and controllably.
The good news is that there are software applications for cross-channel, personalised marketing. These platforms can be set up to do all the hard work for you: building and updating the SCV; segmentation, automating workflows that assist in managing dynamic content and facilitating review and approvals from across the organisation; executing and trafficking campaigns from beginning to end while tracking, analysing and reporting customer behaviour across all channels. Cross-channel marketing platforms enable marketers to create, model and test campaigns, select the best and replicate them across all chosen channels – consistent, reinforcing and always relevant to the customer’s current profile. Many campaigns such as complementary sales and recurring communications such as annual renewals can be completely automated.
One organisation that has been very successful at this is AXA Bank, a global financial services firm. By building a centralised marketing datamart and implementing a cross-channel marketing platform, AXA Bank has been able to plan and execute coordinated, cross-channel campaigns. According to AXA Bank, “If we are conducting a phone campaign on a new savings account, we can now follow-up with email for contacts that have opted into that channel. We’ve found that we can double our conversion rates when we prospect across channels.” AXA Bank has also successfully added mobile marketing to its cross-channel mix.
Best of all from a marketer’s perspective, is the ability cross-channel marketing platforms lend to the Holy Grail of direct marketing: reaching the right person with the right message, at the right time – and re-enforced across the right mix of channels.
For more on this topic, you might like to read the Neolane white paper “Evolving from multi-channel to true cross-channel direct marketing”
Beauty retailer Sephora is part of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and has more than 500 stores in 14 countries worldwide. It also operates sephora.com, the largest and most diverse beauty site in the world.
Until recently, Sephora used a third-party for database marketing services. But it lacked timely access to its customers’ specific buying habits and behaviour and could not effectively identify links between online and in-store shoppers. The company decided to take its direct marketing back in house, and implemented Neolane, an enterprise marketing software platform for cross-channel, personalised campaigns.
Sephora is now able to compile sophisticated segmentations using each customer’s unique transactional history, gathered from all points of interaction, including point of sale, web and call centre activity.
Sephora’s marketers are now able to get the answers to questions such as:
• Are customers using loyalty cards for both online and in-store locations
to purchase products?
• Are the loyalty cards really working to drive additional sales?
• How valuable are individual customers and how much are they spending
in-store and online?
• Are multi-channel shoppers spending more overall than single-channel
This approach has paid dividends for the company. Sephora has achieved marketing productivity gains of 70 per cent, doubled direct marketing response rates without increasing spend, and reduced campaign analysis time from five days to just one.
Author: Jeremy Bedford , Director of Operations, Neolane UK