A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Experian in August found that although marketers are acutely aware of changes in customer behaviour, many are struggling to implement a sophisticated cross-channel strategy that influences the path to purchase.
What would you say is mission critical for a successful cross-channel marketing campaign? Data? Engagement? Perhaps compelling content? While all these things are important, according to Forrester Consulting, expertise in the humble email, one of the most reliable, easy-to-use channels in a marketer’s arsenal, lays a solid foundation.
In a nutshell, marketers all know cross-channel marketing is crucial but few are doing it well. Experian research suggests it’s an ongoing challenge. This time last year we surveyed 200 Australian marketers and identified a serious knowledge gap when it came to cross-channel marketing and the customer path to purchase. Only 14 per cent of marketers stated they actually understood the process. Today, marketers understand the theory behind cross-channel marketing, but what’s missing is the practical application.
The modern day consumer has access to unlimited data across multiple devices and only wants to hear from a brand when it suits them. That’s one of the reasons email can be very influential in a customers’ path to purchase. The opportunity for marketers lies in understanding where email is most relevant and influential in that process and then building a cross-channel campaign around the initial email contact.
Forrester Consulting found that although marketers understand the importance of communicating across multiple touch points, they have not yet mastered the art of integrating email with those of other channels. All channels need to be integrated to present relevant and consistent messages and tie the communications together.
Integrate or perish
Forrester Consulting found that marketers globally are operating unsophisticated cross-channel programs. Cross-channel marketing is more than just publishing disparate content across multiple channels, it requires integration. Forty-five per cent of marketers are only integrating an average of two channels in their communication campaigns. Sophisticated marketers typically have above average integration between email and other digital channels. Their sophisticated approach to cross-channel marketing has the added benefit of providing rich insights about channel engagement. They therefore have the potential to effectively leverage insights and customer data from every email interaction.
Once marketers lay the framework for an effective email led campaign, it is time to innovate. By producing engaging and innovative email content, marketers are a big step closer to elevating customer conversations above a transactional level.
Data and email – a great match
The key to engaging content lies in having a solid understanding of what makes your customers tick. This is where data comes into play. A mature cross-channel campaign will integrate data sources and manage customer data efficiently to provide valuable behavioural insights.
Forrester Consulting found that 41 per cent of marketers globally operate at a mature level, meaning they demonstrated far higher maturity in critical skills such as, among others, data applications for cross-channel marketing. Experian’s own research last year found that 91 per cent of marketers identified an inability to draw valuable insights out of their data. So, what can marketers do to become more sophisticated in their approach to cross-channel?
Forrester Consulting found there are a number of steps you and your organisation can take to roll out a mature cross-channel campaign:
- Integrate all of your marketing channels – online and offline. True cross-channel marketing requires coordination of your data, content and workflows across different channels.
- Audit your data: An audit of what data you currently use for campaigns and what data exists in your organisation is an effective way to leverage your existing data for cross-channel campaigns.
- Innovate your email communications. As one of the most reliable, consistently used channels, email has an opportunity to be more than a transaction-driven medium. By analysing the way your customers engage with email, marketers can facilitate interactions in other channels and touch points.
With this in mind, creating a sophisticated cross-channel campaign is within reach for all marketers.
Access the complete report, ‘The Road to Cross-Channel Maturity’ here.