Data and the Future of Cross-Channel Marketing
With today's marketing and cloud technology, consolidating data and consumer profiles isn't a prerequisite for establishing efficient cross-channel marketing programs. Yet this notion still comes as a surprise for the vast majority of retailers with whom I speak. Many companies will go through data consolidation blindly even though it's a lengthy, pricey and very disruptive process for any organization. I know this from experience and from having implemented customer databases and consolidation projects multiple times since the turn of the century.
Retailers must re-evaluate their way of working and must start with strategy independently of technology. What do you want to achieve with your cross-channel initiatives? What are you doing today and what's the next best thing you can do? Retailers will realize that in most cases they want to react to an alert or customer event in one channel and have the ability to react accordingly in the channel of their choosing.
I came to the conclusion that starting this process without consolidation is the fastest and most efficient way to achieve a positive return on your investment for your cross-channel marketing initiatives. With today's technology, one can easily set up alerts from any systems or applications. Therefore, you can set up inbound events and outbound actions between applications instead of centralizing customer profiles. It helps to follow the behavior of each customer across multiple touchpoints, allowing for immediate interaction throughout the customer life cycle.
In this way, retailers can use the data as it flows through their organizations instantaneously rather than compiling their big data and acting afterward. The benefit of this process is that it allows for immediate interaction throughout the buying process. For example, one could start by implementing a customer reactivation program, move on with a cross-sales strategy, add more business intelligence, include social media in the mix, connect marketing programs with your CRM solution, and so forth.
Of course, analytics and reporting tools will help to optimize and improve performance in the long run. However, it certainly shouldn't be the first step of cross-channel marketing initiatives. To begin, marketers must place the actual customer and desired strategy at the heart of the equation rather than having their databases dictate the capabilities and strategy. For me, it's become a future-proof methodology where technology adapts to the marketer rather than the other way around.