In early 2012, Forrester launched a report on a new category -- cross-channel campaign management (CCCM) -- that is transforming the marketing landscape. We know it's a bit of a mouthful, but the concept is sound and promises to give marketers what they've always been waiting for:
- Reduced cost-per-action
- Higher customer conversions
- Comprehensive customer profiling across the entire media mix
Reducing customer acquisition cost, improving customer conversions, and getting better customer data will make marketers exponentially better at what they do!
Mediapost writer and marketing expert Laurie Sullivan provided an excellent article to support Forrester's work. You can view it here.
What is cross-channel campaign management?
Here is Forrester's description of the category:
"CCCM applications that enable marketers to act on and react to empowered customers rather than just integrate more channels. In the future, marketers will select applications for their ability to orchestrate the always on, bidirectional, and cross-channel dialogue between customers and businesses." -- Robert Brosnan, Analyst Forrester 2012
In a nutshell, cross-channel marketing is about making all media channels work together to drive better results and provide a better experience for today's consumer. For consumers, a better experience means meaningful outreach by brands based on the consumer's demographic, where they want to connect, where they are, and what they care about. For marketers, better results mean…well…increased sales!
Currently, most advertising approaches are based on the age-old assumption that consumers want to "live" in specific channels -- meaning they are comfortable connecting with a brand through a single media channel such as TV. Moreover, the singular method of advertising in a given channel (commercials on television or marketing emails for email subscribers) is enough to incent a consumer to take action and buy their product in-store or online. These dated tactics focus on targeting single campaigns to connect with subsets of consumers, one channel at a time.
The following is a common example: A retailer or brand runs a contest to garner as many Facebook fans as possible on its Facebook page. During that time, the same retailer or brand runs a promotion-only accessible in-store. Much opportunity is missed in this sample approach. For example, what if these Facebook fans wanted to become shoppers or already are shoppers but would be motivated to buy based on an offer? Why not incent them to convert from just being a fan to a measurable shopper by providing them with the same offer available in-store? And what about those in-store shoppers? Wouldn't it make sense to give them the opportunity to share that in-store promotion with their social networks (and make that easy and measurable)?
For brands and consumers, cross-channel marketing presents an opportunity to use technology in a thoughtful way to connect, engage, and profile channel agnostic consumers across the entire media mix.
Now that we know what cross-channel marketing is, let's explore the benefits in greater detail, starting with reduced customer acquisition cost and better customer conversions.
Reduced customer acquisition cost and higher customer conversions
Today's consumer is always on and expects a bi-directional conversation with any brand they are interested in. This means marketers need to launch campaigns where customers can connect with a brand 24/7, wherever they are. Without technology integrated into media, this could be an expensive proposition. Think about it. Retailers can't be expected to be open at all hours just because some consumers are thinking about the brand outside of store hours. However, connecting with those consumers could lead to increased sales downstream. The trick is to capture consumer intent in the moment it occurs so that marketers can efficiently convert that intent into a purchase.
In order to connect with customers at all hours of the day and do that cost effectively, all media must be rendered truly interactive. Interactive media enable consumers to connect and take action with a brand outside a retail location (via signage) at 10 p.m. just as easily as via an early morning television commercial or online.
Converting offline eyeballs to customers
Methods of making traditional media interactive are about leveraging the mobile phone and its technical capabilities -- which can include social media. This could range from simple SMS calls-to-action, to QR codes connecting to a mobile optimized site or application download link, to plain mobile URLs, to applications, Shazam, NFC (near-field communication), Facebook posts, and more. Integrating these technologies into traditional media are cost effective because a customer can see an advertisement and immediately take action using their phone. It can happen in the moment the consumer has the intent to connect with said brand.
Imagine a consumer -- let's call him Fred. Fred is having his breakfast at 6:00am and reading the paper. He leaves for work around 7:00am every day, and so his mornings are busy and involve getting ready for work, eating breakfast, and reading the paper. Over the last few weeks, Fred has thought about buying a car, and has been most interested in a mini SUV. Of course, it's early in the day and Fred is just having breakfast and not actively researching cars. However, Fred happens to come across an advertisement for Toyota's mini SUV model -- a Rav4. The advertisement has some compelling creative and a call-to-action to book a test drive that is most convenient to Fred (e.g., the time, date, and location he prefers). Fred doesn't have to call anyone to book this appointment, nor fire up his laptop. Instead, there is a scanable QR code that directs him to a mobile optimized site that allows Fred to complete the necessary form to confirm a test drive.
Fred's 6:00am interaction has now become a qualified lead for Toyota. That leads comes at a fraction of the cost of what it would take to capture Fred through other means (e.g., more advertisement, call center etc.). It is truly these simple additions of technology and a direct call-to-action that allow a consumer like Fred to connect with a brand and take an action beyond simply seeing the advertisement. Best of all, this interaction can be as instantaneous as the consumer wants.
Turning online eyeballs to offline buyers
For digital media, the concept is similar. For the thousands of brands in the marketplace that look to connect with consumers online in order to motivate a purchase offline, smart uses of desktop, mobile, and social technologies are excellent tools to convert online eyeballs to offline buyers. Let's go back to the Toyota dealership example.
Wendy is taking the time to research SUVs online. She is a busy woman but is procrastinating for a few minutes while at work to see what is out there. She lands on a Toyota Rav 4 dealership site, likes what she reads, and wants to book a test drive. Wendy clicks on the "Book a Test Drive Today" button and fills out a form indicating her preferences. Wendy then receives an SMS that includes a link to a mobile optimized site that has information, videos, and images on the Rav4 she is testing, testimonials of recent buyers, address and directions to the dealership appointment, and the option to add the confirmed appointment directly to her calendar with the click of a button. Wendy is pretty busy and had to book the test-drive a few weeks out. As such, she also elected to get a reminder notification via SMS a day before the appointment. Through mobile and desktop technologies, Toyota can convert a passive e-researcher into a qualified lead.
Better still, what if there was an added incentive and easy way for Fred or Wendy to share their test-drive experience with their social networks? Their support might just reach the attention of another potential buyer in Fred or Wendy's social network. For Toyota, that is just another win.
The scenario of Fred, Wendy, and Toyota is fake, but serves to illustrate a point. It doesn't matter whether a brand is trying to convert a consumer from online to offline or offline to online -- integrating mobile, social, and digital technologies to enable consumers to take action from any advertisement in the media mix is critical. Advertisers reap the amazing benefit of immediate conversion of impression to lead, should a consumer elect to take action. Immediacy of action is dramatically cheaper than investing in extended hours of operation, more frequent media spots, and other expensive tools to connect and convert eyeballs to customers. Cross-channel marketing opens the door for customers to connect and engage cost effectively 24/7.
Comprehensive customer profiling
As we have noted above, cross-channel marketing calls for the "instrumentation" or integration of technology and calls-to-action on all media channels. This extends beyond the digital sphere and encompasses literally everywhere a brand may show (including business cards!).
Instrumentation can mean adding a QR code to a sign or a form to a Facebook page. Of course, instrumentation also refers to tracking digital ads and website activity. The key concept is that a marketer can instrument everything in the media mix using mobile, social, and web technologies. Furthermore, media instrumentation can be as detailed as the marketer wants. For example, unique SMS keywords, PURLs, and QR codes for individual locations or products.
Once this media becomes instrumented it is measurable. That is power for the marketer, one of the greatest benefits of cross-channel marketing. With instrumented digital and traditional media channels, the marketer can gain insight into how customers are connecting with the brand, where they are, and off of what media channel! Finally, marketers can attribute better analysis of their media spend based on understanding how often a consumer connects with advertisements in a given campaign.
Taking measurement one step further: Correlation
Knowing and comparing when and how consumers interacted online and offline is good information, but cross-channel marketing can uncover even more data.
With the right technology and approach, a marketer can even instrument their media mix and connect inferred data that is collected as a customer interacts (uniques, hits, CPMs, phone numbers, etc.) with any historical opted-in data that is already on record or part of a current campaign. Opted-in information is information that a customer shares. Examples include the completion of a contest form and completing a Facebook share via a Facebook application. The result? Rich customer profiles that tell a marketer the who, the when, the what, and the where a customer interacted with their brand.
Marketers can make on-the-minute decisions around their content and media allocation based on data from a performing campaign. Of course, it goes without saying that this approach to customer profiling and its supporting technology must be 100 percent compliant of relevant federal privacy laws and promises given by the advertiser.
Earlier this year, a retailer customer of Tagga had data that showed that certain stores were outperforming others. Using this insight, the retailer created a contest to time with their next promotion, targeting the actual employees of the individual retail location. The objective was to motivate the underperforming retailers to do a better job of supporting the campaign in order to increase overall campaign performance.
Cross-channel marketing, at the risk of sounding audacious, provides an answer to the age-old adage: "I know half of my advertising is effective, I just don't know which half." It allows advertisers to analyze campaign performance down to the location, media channel, time and date, and profile of the consumers participating. By completely instrumenting media, marketers can capture data on the fly and make real-time decisions to optimize results during the course of a campaign or after the fact.
The final word
Gaining meaningful metrics
With silo-ed channel marketing approaches, marketers may use multiple channels (known as multi-channel marketing), yet the content, tactics, and strategies are designed to drive specific customer conversion within each independent channel. This means marketers focus on silo-ed channel conversion metrics, and while these metrics (e.g., fans count) are important, on their own, they are not meaningful enough to inform good decision-making.
Cross-channel marketing means creating campaigns where the conversions are aligned with a common campaign goal that involves clear consumer action. Facebook or TV should be used to both reach consumers and enable them to immediately engage should they want to.
Inciting engagement can be as simple as tweeting about entering a contest or redeeming a coupon. Rather than just driving towards Facebook "likes" or TV viewership numbers, the campaign is about leveraging these channels to convert consumers to a bigger goal -- sales!
A new approach to marketing
Cross-channel marketing is not simply new technology; it is a new approach to marketing that requires newer and smarter technology.
Consumers are already expecting to communicate with a brand on their terms. They are always-on and channel agnostic. If a marketer wants to connect with them, the consumer demands relevance and meaning based on not just where they are, but who they are and what they like. The transformation of their behavior is a result of the widespread adoption of mobile, social, and web technologies integrated into their everyday lives.
As a result, conventional marketing approaches have been disrupted. Simply adding channels to the strategy is not enough. Marketers must think about how these channels can work together to drive more value and better information.
Co-author Jean-Guy Faubert is the CEO or Tagga.
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