I enjoy technology because of how quickly the game can change. In the online marketing space, staying on top of emerging trends and using cutting-edge solutions is vital to a company's ability to stay competitive.
The latest change in the game is how email marketing in its current form is a commodity. As the vendor landscape quickly developed over the past several years, features became standardized and fairly uniform. Now companies that do not communicate with their customers through online channels—especially email—are dinosaurs. But, companies that are aggressively deploying email-only marketing campaigns are not getting all the value they can from such a direct marketing tool.
Email, or use of any other single online channel, is no longer a viable, long-term online strategy. Integration of online communications channels is the key to achieving truly customer-focused online marketing. Consumers are constantly changing how they collect information, and the substantial increase in website activity and mobile phone usage in the past 18 months are proof positive. More value can be gleaned from email marketing by integrating it with the other channels that consumers use on an increasingly regular basis, thereby shifting the focus from the channel to the consumer.
Extending the usefulness of email marketing lies with cross-channel integration, especially with the Web. Historically, the focus has rightly been on two primary themes: email delivery, and great content that leads directly to high conversion rates. But, in the age of optimization, companies become disengaged from their consumers the second they click on a link in an email. The situation begs the question, "What good is developing half of a relationship with a customer if you can develop a complete relationship?" If a consumer is sent an email with an offer for product A, clicks the link in the email, but moves away from product A to product B in the website, that action is valuable and can be used to reinforce the brand-customer relationship by serving the customer additional relevant content they'll click and buy.
In an online marketing landscape dominated by vendors that cobble together different capabilities, finding a platform with a seamless transition from channel to channel is key. The future of online marketing is running a multichannel campaign out of one console to achieve a consistent, easy-to-manage brand experience for the user. That console can capture the marketing data, or incorporate it to campaigns.
In the coming year single-channel online marketers will face the difficult decision of developing online channel integration or they risk losing market share. The sooner the consumer becomes the primary focus of marketing efforts, and not the channel itself, the more companies will benefit from a strong relationship, and the resulting boost in sales. About the author: Brian Deagan is founder and CEO of Knotice Ltd., a digital marketing solutions company. Contact Deagan at firstname.lastname@example.org.