From video ads on Vine and native ads on Buzzfeed to mobile ads in apps and games, marketers have a plethora of ad platforms at their disposal. However, no single platform can drive interest and engagement across every medium and device comprising the average customer's journey. New ad platforms coming online also creates more complexity, which as Experian notes means that "as soon as the marketing department comes to grips with one new channel, then two more emerge."
The pressure is on for marketing leads to appease the C-suite by executing the next campaign more quickly and efficiently, adopting a new ad unit, and delivering measurable ROI. The best way to show digital marketing prowess is by embracing cross-channel marketing with smart and actionable analytics.
Feeling the Cross-Channel Pain
Cross-channel campaigns are all around us. Consider the iconic Absolut vodka print ads that the company began supplementing with digital, or a retail campaign that starts with e-mail, then search, and culminates with a social display ad targeted via Facebook Exchange (FBX).
The proliferation of digital platforms, how they fragment the audience's attention, and the sheer volume of data they create lead to pain points preventing some marketers from optimizing or launching cross-channel campaigns. This is a billion-dollar problem, as Booz & Company notes, which is likely to get more complicated as new ad platforms emerge.
Much of the pain correlates to ineffective use of data and analytics throughout the campaign process, from the planning phase (i.e. which channels do we use? When? Why?), to the optimization process and post-campaign analysis. Marketers must establish a process for replicating success across channels.
From Pain Points to Marketing Opportunities
Fortunately, marketing pain points can lead to new opportunities. With cross-channel campaigns, the initial step is understanding the data before launching a campaign.
1. Start with Your Own Data
Every marketer should examine their own first-party data (i.e. engagement metrics like page views and bounce rates, or conversion metrics like average order size) and it should be integrated with a system funneling the data directly into an ad optimization platform. Ultimately, the best source of data to influence a cross-channel campaign is your own.
First-party data can help marketers make decisions before a campaign starts instead of just pulling reports afterwards, a tactic McKinsey analysts say is missing the point. By understanding internal data, insights can then be added from second- and third-party sources to build more granular audience segments, plus find alternative channels for targeting customers at different stages of their journey.
2. Use Data to Create Mass Messaging that Feels like "Me" Messaging
Algorithms and machine-learning platforms are designed to glean insights from massive amounts of data and streamline marketers' allocation of ad budgets, but campaign messaging still needs to feel specifically tailored to each recipient. This can be as simple as a consumer brand changing the messaging for its site's visitors from iPads vs. Android tablets, or as complex as retargeting a site visitor with a display ad featuring a limited-time discount code tailored to their name. Call it "Me" marketing, which ultimately leaves customers feeling like they've been greeted at the door of a Mom and Pop shop instead of being "targeted" by an omnipotent corporation.
3. Structure (or Restructure) Your Team for Maximum Data ROI
This is likely the overarching issue at the nexus of cross-channel campaigns and analytics, but it has the greatest potential impact on the efficacy of campaigns including the long-term ROI of an organization's overall marketing efforts.
Your IT and ad operations teams inherently understand the value of analytics, and the marketing team relies on that data to make more effective decisions; however, that relationship is typically isolated. The goal is to get everyone together to address the issues of how to best get data in, which data sets to measure, and when/how to make that data actionable. From an individual campaign perspective, this means the ad operations team knows which tags to pull, the search team knows which reports should be sent to the paid search optimization vendor, and the social team understands which hashtags to track. However, each of these elements can be optimized in real time, without latency, and the CMO can receive a single report providing clear, concise insight into whether a campaign is delivering a solid ROI.
This is an ideal scenario, but one that will not happen instantly for most marketers. The first step is aligning your organization to make better, data-based decisions and ultimately create more effective cross-channel campaigns. Fortunately, advertising technology innovation is forging ahead because we need the optimal solutions and channels to reach the right audience, at the right time, with a tailored message within right context. However, a smarter approach to managing data and analytics is the foundation for ensuring campaign effectiveness across channels.