As customers are increasingly using multiple channels to interact with brands, it is becoming more and more crucial that retailers provide consistent and harmonised marketing messages across all of them.
These are the findings of a study undertaken among 145 enterprises by Aberdeen Group and entitled 'Cross Channel Retail Marketing'. The report revealed that, although many retailers ignored the causal link between customer channel preferences and their purchasing behaviour, such short-sightedness was counter-productive.
Therefore, cross-channel integration had now become a must to ensure that multi-channel marketing activities were effective. The biggest barrier to such activity at the moment, however, was an inability to measure the success of campaigns in emerging channels such as social media and user-generated content such as feedback forums and blogs.
Business-to-consumer based enterprises in particular lacked the necessary tools to track and measure their programmes and so were unable to calculate marketing return on investment (ROI) figures and other benefits that could be used as the basis for future activities. Nearly two thirds of organisations of all types said that they were currently failing to track response rates to multi-channel marketing initiatives, however.
But Aberdeen suggested various ways to help. First, it recommended that organisations deploy a marketing database in order to use customer information currently held in CRM systems to generate personalised direct mail and email-based communications. Such communications could then be sent out across all sales and service channels.
Secondly, it advised developing a centralised database to provide staff in multiple departments and teams with a single view of the customer. Such a move would also help the marketing function to create personalised, integrated marketing plans. As a first step in this direction, Aberdeen said that organisations should purge their CRM systems of duplicate records and consolidate all brand interactions into a single repository.
Thirdly, enterprises should measure consumer channel preferences via mechanisms such as feedback surveys, customer web site profiles and customer analytics tools in order to understand where and how customers interact with their brand. The introduction of a unified marketing platform that handled planning, implementation and analytics could help here.
Lastly, organisations needed to invest in social media monitoring tools to track their brand, maintain its integrity and measure ROI.