by Kevin Craine | 2/2/16

Marketing and IT professionals in all industries face a number of challenges with cross-channel marketing, the first of which is integrating customer data.  While organizations often have a wealth of data at their fingertips, studies find that many struggle to leverage that information effectively across multiple marketing channels. This lack of integration can erode organizational performance as the competitive landscape continues to evolve. Customers expect an increasingly seamless and transparent experience while the number of channels for discovery and evaluation of new products and services continue to increase.

The Data Challenge

A recent study of more than 275 C-suite executives found that almost half of the companies surveyed said that they are not effective at leveraging customer data. Executives fear that their lack of understanding of customer behavior is leading to a tremendous gap in delivering superior customer experiences.  

That gap is getting attention; improving customer experience ranks as a top priority for executives. Forrester Research reports that “managing customer experience” is a top priority across all major industries. One study surveyed 400 senior marketing and 250 IT executives in 10 countries. Both CMOs and CIOs (52 percent) said that customer engagement is at the top of strategic planning lists. A third (30 percent) of the marketing executives pointed to creating sustainable and engaging customer relationships as critical for sustained profitability. About quarter of the IT respondents (22 percent) indicated a growing technological focus on customer experience.

The Promise of Multi-Channel

The time is right for organizations to cash in on the promise of cross-channel marketing, but more than the technology to enable the process, the right strategic approach is essential to integrate actions that nurture customer experience. Products and services should be enhanced by the use of appropriate customer data to provide relevant messaging, facilitate targeted cross-sell and upsell campaigns, and in general broaden and nurture the ongoing relationship with each customer. Organizations of all kinds find that they can gain market advantage with this type of strategic direction.

Multi-Channel Future

Marketing ROI is increased when organizations integrate several marketing technologies across multiple channels and understand their impact on one another. Research conducted by CMO.com indicates multichannel marketing can improve campaign results in the neighborhood of 300 to 650 percent over traditional campaigns. As a result, expect a dramatic change in the purchase funnel. These days, a typical consumer will use up to five different channels to discover and evaluate a new product or service. Most check the company website, search online reviews, and visit social media in addition to traditional advice from family and friends.

Next Generation Customer Communications

The good news is that a next generation of customer communications tools can provide a platform to manage the process. Leveraging customer data is and much easier and more profitable as a result, and things like message personalization, target segmentation and in-depth campaign analytics are all built in. These tools also allow you to reach across different communication channels (e.g., social, mobile and print formats) and quickly analyze the effectiveness of those connections. The fundamental benefit is the ability to enable more strategic and thoughtful activity behind how your company engages with customers on an ongoing basis. Next steps? Look for providers and partners with the right mix of expertise, experience and vision to enable you find success using next generation customer communications.

Guest contributor Kevin Craine is the author of the book Designing a Document Strategy, host of the Everyday MBA on C-Suite Radio, and a respected authority on document management and process improvement. He is the managing director of Craine Communications Group. For more information visit CraineGroup.com