A new study from PulsePoint on the digital marketing capabilities and shortcomings of companies finds that "overwhelming complexity" and a "lack of unified measurement" are the key stumbling blocks in aligning these efforts with consumers' multichannel behaviors. There's a growing body of research on this topic, most of which support this thesis that marketing leaders are, in fact, overcome by the difficulty of managing and coordinating marketing efforts across the flood of channels that customers use. They also struggle to measure the results, often because marketing efforts are siloed by channel and aren't correlated well together (e.g. tracking the impact of an email marketing campaign on web traffic and conversion rates). Nonetheless, there are ways to attack these problems, beginning with systems integration.
The PulsePoint study, which was done in partnership with The CMO Club and Digiday, is based on feedback from nearly 400 senior marketing leaders, agency executives, and publishers. In a press release for the study, PulsePoint CMO Rose Ann Haran notes that "Consumers are moving freely across channels and devices, interacting with brands and content in real-time. The digital industry is not flowing as easily with this liquid audience. Channel-centric technologies and processes are causing a divide between our marketing capabilities and our ability to truly engage the consumer in a real-time interactive manner."
Many companies struggle to follow customers through the different stages of their multichannel journeys. This makes it extremely difficult to gain a comprehensive understanding of each customer's channel behavior, much less their experiences along the way and the reasons they drop off. It also makes it tough for companies to respond quickly to customers when they're engaged in a particular channel.
A big part of the challenge is the lack of integration between the systems companies use to support different channel strategies (web, social, mobile, email, etc.). The failure to interconnect these systems makes it virtually impossible for marketing leaders and other decision-makers to gain a complete view of how customers use various channels and move between them for product research, support, and other purposes.
Lack of integration also prevents business leaders from connecting the dots between customer experience in various channels and their impact on business performance (e.g. willingness to repurchase and willingness to recommend).
Peppers & Rogers Group advises that the integration of channels and supporting technologies be championed by senior management. This can be done, in part, by communicating the business benefits of doing so (e.g. increases in cross-sell/upsell) to key stakeholders.
The digital marketing arena will only continue to gain in complexity as new devices and new technologies continue to surface (e.g. tablets). To help manage this complexity, a new role is beginning to emerge where a hybrid marketing technologist is stepping in to help guide these efforts and ensure that the various systems used to support multichannel marketing are interconnected, says Loren McDonald, vice president of industry relations at Silverpop. The emergence of this type of role also reflects how marketing and IT departments are beginning to work more closely together, says Aprimo CMO Lisa Arthur. Such steps can go a long way towards centralizing and simplifying multichannel marketing efforts.