The three biggest challenges of cross channel marketing

Delivering personalised marketing at scale is one of the great emerging breakthroughs of digital marketing. Because most customers use a few different channels and devices, doing personalised marketing well means integrating customer data from a range of sources, and engaging with the customer across channels and screens of their choice. This process is called cross channel marketing and is the most effective and comprehensive way of implementing a personalised marketing strategy.

Done well, personalised marketing is a key strategy in providing a positive brand experience for each of your customers. It uses their preferred channels and data to understand the style, timing and relevant offers to provide a resonating experience. It also lets you build a personalised customer journey that understands what your customer is looking for, and leads them to the decision that is right for them.

Despite the power of personalised marketing and the effectiveness of cross channel marketing in delivering it, many businesses struggle with the challenges of building a cross channel marketing capability. For businesses in this position it’s important to know that you are not alone and that help

is available. It’s equally important to be aware of the most common challenges in developing a cross channel audience-first, consumer-led marketing capability, so that there is a clear understanding of the road blocks and the areas of the business that require investment and change management.

The big three challenges of cross channel marketing

1. Data and data processing

There is a reason why ‘data is the new oil’ is the zeitgeist of our time. You can’t personalise marketing without knowing about your customers.

The major challenge for businesses on the data front is that the rise of automated data analytics has often come after the establishment of their data platforms. This means sources of customer data are not always collected effectively, and that the data that is collected is often scattered among several different databases and business units.

Developing an effective cross channel marketing capability means a commitment to developing a whole of business approach to customer data. This means bringing all the sources of customer data together in a format that can be easily analysed by data analytics tools to create a single customer view. This might mean investing in a data audit to understand all the sources of available customer data within the business, or investing in new technology, platforms and training to collect sources of data that are available but not currently captured by the business.

One simple issue that faces many businesses is that their customer audience building data is entered in different formats that are inconsistent and do not pick-up on data entry mistakes. Mobile phone numbers, for example, are a great way to link customers with social media accounts, but without guidance and prompts are prone to entry errors and a bewildering array of entry formats.

2. Technology and platform integration

Making the most of a unified data view of the customer means being able to carry over what you have learned about a customer to action on the device platforms and channels they prefer.

The goal is to use the single customer view from the data collection and analytics to drive timing, device, channel and message selection for each customer.

Developing the capability for cross-platform marketing at scale means a commitment to integrate the various platforms within the business together so that workflows can be automated. The key challenge here is that seamless integration varies greatly and has advantages and disadvantages.

Similarly, legacy customer data platforms require investment and can be challenging to automate. One way to build the justification for this integration investment is to develop some small-scale trials with a degree of manual data management. This can help to estimate the value of a larger scale integration investment and help to encourage action and investment from senior management.

3. Organisational change

One of the most difficult challenges in developing a cross channel marketing capability is organisational change. By its integrative nature, cross channel marketing requires siloed compartments to come together to deliver a unified customer-centric marketing approach. It requires the redeployment of resources and the building of a new skills base within the business.

Like all organisational change, there is a danger that key individuals or units can block progress if they are not on board. The development of a cross channel marketing capability, therefore, needs to be the point of strategic discussion within the business so that a strategic narrative can emerge that empowers individuals and business units to become change champions.

One of the most effective ways to start this process is to develop formal and informal education processes that give people within the business the tools to be ambassadors for personalised marketing as a value creator. When this is well understood the value of cross channel marketing is highlighted as the most effective mechanism of implementation.

sbFlourish has worked with a range of big brand clients on personalised advertising this year. While we have developed a strategic framework for our client journey we have had to execute differently to set up similar campaigns.  The various platforms we have been integrating have ranged from highly seamless like Shopify, to databases with platforms requiring more custom work.  Whatever the platform our partners are using we have found suitable solutions for each business, so they can discover what’s possible and develop their business case for personalised advertising.



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