Realising the Multi-Channel Marketing Vision
The customer is at the heart of all marketing activity. Yet over the past two decades, every gain marketers have made in terms of improving customer insight has been challenged by the increasingly complex multi-channel business model and fast changing customer behaviour:
- How are customers’ business interactions changing from face to face and telephone to online and via mobile?
- How do customers respond to different channel experiences?
- What is the impact of new influential channels such as social media?
Despite the growing awareness of the need to gain this in depth understanding and a two decade legacy of development fostered by data warehousing pioneers, customer understanding still remains poor.
A recent survey published in ADWEEK revealed that seventy-six percent of marketers are not utilising behavioural data in either segmentation analysis or targeting, and in our experience at Blue Sheep we know that very few companies have a single customer view that encompasses every activity, from browsing and social media to purchasing and payment.
As Stacie Maxey, Head of Insight at LV=, one of the largest insurance companies in the UK, states, “The Single Customer View is fundamental to every marketer and I don’t know how anyone can work without one. It allows for better targeting, cleaner data and easy customer or product segmentation across all areas of the business.”
Accurate and complete customer insight is key to improving the customer experience and, by result, generating additional revenue.
“Many businesses are heading into 2014 with ‘aggressive’ growth ambitions.” Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and Bloomberg Marketing Confidence Monitor
Marketing has become a far more strategic role in recent years. According to the latest Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and Bloomberg Marketing Confidence
Monitor, many businesses are heading into 2014 with “aggressive” growth ambitions. Growth now dominates the management agenda according to 50 per cent of respondents; while 42 per cent note an increase in management buy-in and more appetite for investment in innovation and new business practices, products and people.
However, demonstrating marketing’s contribution to growth is far from straightforward. Indeed many marketing teams cannot even measure performance by individual campaign – they have no insight into key metrics such as customer acquisition, improving average customer value or extending the customer lifecycle.
In some cases marketing has come to be seen as an unneeded spend rather than a valuable investment.
Fast changing customer behaviour in recent years has enticed organisations to invest in multiple point solutions – from email marketing to website optimisation and personalisation. The result is increasing data silos and even less insight into each customer’s end to end brand experience.
How can marketers effectively allocate budget – from mobile Apps to social media and back to traditional direct marketing?
According to the CIM/Bloomberg report, more than a quarter of marketers (27 per cent) evaluate campaigns only when time and capacity allows. This becomes an issue as almost half (45 per cent) of marketing plans are driven primarily by budgets, versus 37 per cent of marketers who say insight and analysis is the primary driver to that stage in their campaigns.
Limited Customer Knowledge
Every business needs to know its customers. Many claim to understand the customer base in great detail. Yet how many can identify:
- The top 20 per cent of customers by value?
- The key opportunities for up-selling and cross-selling?
- The most valuable prospects?
- The prospects that are a drain on marketing budget?
Nor can companies confidently confirm how these business critical individuals prefer to interact with the business at different stages of the lifecycle:
- How did they become customers?
- Has social media had any influence – and when?
- Is a traditional face to face sales model still critical for the top tier?
- Which customers browse online and buy via telephone or direct?
- How many would prefer a push message on.
Without this insight it is impossible for any marketing team to effectively allocate resources and budget to gain a measurable return on marketing investment (ROMI).
The Big Data Experience
One of the biggest challenges for marketing departments is the phenomenal growth in data created by the evolution of the multi-channel business and the rapid expansion of social media. Indeed, IDC predicts data volume is set to reach 40 trillion gigabytes by 2020.
- From a marketing perspective, gaining customer insight and creating a single view of customer activity across every channel is becoming exponentially more challenging
- The software industry is continually introducing innovative new solutions to personalise the customer experience – online, via email or mobile App
- Senior management are demanding an investment in analytics to improve campaign measurement and prove marketing value.
Given the very different pressures, marketing must focus investment in technology and resources to:
- Balance the need to improve customer understanding with the pressing drive to exploit new channels to market and new areas of business influence, such as Twitter
- Ensure activity is focused on the most valuable customers or prospects to maximise the value of the marketing investment
- Demonstrate that value to the business.
All customers are not equal – but what does that mean to the business? In many cases it means improving segmentation and personalisation to improve the interaction and engagement. In the most effective business it means identifying the most valuable 20 per cent of customers – and that is where marketing activity is prioritised.
The ‘Pareto Principle’ (commonly known as the 80:20 rule) is much regarded across marketing as a principle to follow. By focusing on your top 20 per cent, or at least treating them differently, you can not only achieve better results but create huge efficiency.
The heart of any successful marketing model must be a single source of customer information. Data inconsistency is fundamentally compromising marketing performance. Too many companies are struggling with:
- Multiple point solutions, from email marketing to analytics and marketing databases
- Inaccurate data – often so bad that email campaigns are blocked by providers
- Manual marketing processes that take too long and provide no insight into performance.
Trying to remedy data fragmentation by using multiple, best of breed solutions demands a complex integration model and still risks a fragmented approach. How can the company guarantee a consistent customer experience if the content offered on the website is developed in isolation from the email marketing content?
- Offers are inconsistent
- Marketing effort is duplicated
- Customer preferences for content, offers and communication channels are not collected and harnessed.
Marketing Has A Strategic Role
In a multi-channel marketplace with fast changing consumer behaviour, marketing’s role is becoming increasingly strategic. But the marketing team is also tasked with improving efficiency, reducing duplication and improving focus.
To support the business and get the right tools in place, it is essential to:
- Focus on what is really valuable to the business – is it really a priority to have social marketing campaigns – how will the business make money from Twitter?
- Move away from point solutions to a strategic focus based on a single customer view and consistent, multi-channel customer data.
- Determine the best way of engaging with suppliers – is a workshop based model a better way to understand requirements than the traditional.