Building a Strong Multichannel Foundation


Creative marketers who have stretched to communicate with customers in dynamic new ways often come to the realization that traditional marketing technologies simply haven't evolved with the times. As a result, many have been forced to invest in multiple software and services to meet their needs for communicating consistently across direct mail, email, Web, and mobile channels. 


With solutions stacked on each other and assembled in awkward fashion, many marketers have created a precarious house of cards that isn't strong enough to support multichannel campaigns in the way they are meant to be executed. Change one variable, shift one priority, and the house of cards collapses. And when this happens, it becomes clear that a poorly executed campaign is often more detrimental to a company's brand and customer relationships than doing nothing at all.


Start with the foundation and build up

Marketers are often struggling to deal with a multitude of data sources, channels, initiatives, and participants who make their operations highly complex and redundant-leading to inefficiency and ineffectiveness-so they need to find a way to integrate people, process, and technology with a unified system. This means ensuring that customer communication is personalized, relevant, and targeted regardless of the channel.


The best chance for executing an indestructible marketing strategy is to build a solid foundation. That foundation will help marketers evolve from simple multichannel marketing to true cross-channel marketing, where communicating with customers and prospects through multiple, disconnected channels is actually done with consistency and coordination. The key to cross-channel success is adopting a fully unified approach that combines the attributes of multichannel marketing within a single platform that effectively manages workflow, customer information, and marketing performance-extending across multiple channels, including traditional and emerging technologies, to deliver meaningful content to customers and prospects. 


Packard Bell builds a fortress for customer lifecycle management

As is the case with growth of any type over time, the evolution of multichannel and cross-channel marketing within most organizations follows a maturity curve. 

Organizations typically begin their evolution by outsourcing all marketing campaigns to mail houses or email service providers, for example. Eventually, organizations begin to mature and migrate to a preferred channel in house, a cycle that can continue until all channels are managed in-house.


Take Packard Bell, for example. As a leading PC brand, the company had set aggressive goals for itself, including growing its core business, extending its brand into digital entertainment, and leveraging its customer base to develop high-margin revenue streams.  As it set out to reach these goals, however, Packard Bell realized it needed to develop better one-to-one relationships with indirect customers-those purchasing PCs through third-party retailers. Packard Bell set out to execute customer communications strategies that inspired repeat business through consistent, highly targeted, and personalized campaigns. 


To put the challenge in perspective, each month Packard Bell plans and executes 750 to 1,000 marketing campaigns in eight languages, targeting an average 200 recipients per campaign out of a database of close to 1.5 million active addresses. Many communications are event triggered: a thank-you email message the day after the purchase; a sales proposal three months after the activation of a software trial; or a memory upgrade offer 18 months after a PC purchase. Other communications are scheduled independently, such as new product launches, seasonal offers, or sales.

Today, using Neolane, Packard Bell is able to identify 33 percent of its new retail customers, up from virtually zero. That information is stored in a centralized database for its marketers to reference and utilize. Packard Bell's marketing teams, located in various countries, can perform segmentations and extractions according to numerous criteria, including purchase date, product type and serial number, warranty expiration date, and responses to previous messages (past behavioral data). As a result, average customer value is up 50 percent as repeat business driven by personalized campaigns grows. Overall, Packard Bell has strengthened its ability to manage large, complex marketing campaigns, as well as automate the ideal and most valuable customer journeys.

As the range of channels within marketers' reach continues to grow in value and complexity, achieving the benefits of true cross-channel marketing is even more critical.  The ability to integrate and manage traditional and emerging technologies within a solid, single technology infrastructure-and the ability to use any of these channels interchangeably-enables organizations to optimize the full customer experience without worrying about their marketing strategies collapsing.  


About the author: Patrick McHugh is executive vice president of Neolane Inc. He oversees all operations and is responsible for helping companies understand the strategic value of integrating emerging marketing technologies with traditional channels to drive revenue.