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Integration of Marketing Channels – by Kristjan Mar Hauksson (by @optimizeyourweb)

6 December 2011 BY

The integration series continues with a post from Kristjan Mar Hauksson, the Director of Internet Marketing at NordiceMarketing. Kristjan takes a look at all the channels and how companies should handle them.

Integrated multi channel marketing is not merely a technological issue. It is rather a strategic, evolutionary path that businesses, especially the retailers need to follow to maintain their competitiveness in the market. An integrated multi-channel marketing approach can lead to better customer relationships and dramatically improve operational effectiveness – derived through customer dialogue, advanced data analytics and infrastructure integration.

In today’s rapidly changing and increasingly complex multi channel environment, businesses face the overwhelming challenge of reversing the downtrend in customer satisfaction and improving operational efficiency. They have to respond on several fronts:

* Developing a unified understanding of a given customers’ wants and needs as customers become increasingly fragmented in the channels that they use.

* Experimenting with emerging technologies to improve customer satisfaction while tackling organization and process integration issues.

* Addressing today’s pressing economic challenges while still building the capabilities required to compete successfully in future

Dynamic businesses are working to make sure that their customers can interact with their brands through any channel. An ad may appear on TV, in the newspaper, or on the Internet. At the same time customers also have multiple options when they are ready to decide where to make a purchase. They maybe placing an order by using their phone, going online for the purchase or simply walk into the store to buy the desired product or service.

Significance of traditional channels

The B2C channels need to remember the significance of traditional channels to customers. Call centers and direct mail tactics cannot disappear completely. But there is still a huge value to be unlocked by the organizations who want to integrate all available channels while communicating with customers.

With the increasing sophistication of technology, the number of channels available to a customer is increasing. At the same time, it can be a bit difficult for companies to manage the flow of communications through these channels. If every customer decides to interact with the business through a different channel or even the same channel multiple times, it can be a daunting task to start from scratch each time.

To be sure of success of their marketing campaigns in today’s multi-channel world, companies will have to integrate customer interactions across the varying marketing channels. This is necessary for good customer experience wherever and whenever the dialogue takes place.

Basic ways to integrate different marketing channels

Implementing successful multi-channel marketing strategy calls for strategic focus and a commitment to measure the results in terms of overall customer profitability and lifetime value. Some of the basic ways to integrate different marketing channels include:

* Extending the efficacy of channels by unifying customer data collected at every possible interaction:  The business must try to promote its website to offline customer base while also promoting channels other than website to the customers who typically interact through online modes.

* Ensuring that buyer experiences are consistent across all channels:  Multi-channel buyers may expect to see the same or more offerings online than offline, and typically use the online medium to support offline experiences. For instance, a product review may be posted on social networking sites or consumer forums. Businesses should also ensure that promotional calendars are consistent though unique online promotions can be added to enhance multi channel customers’ high purchasing frequency.

* Maintaining customer policies across all channels: The return polices, sale credits and order fulfillment times should be the same irrespective of the channel used by a customer.

* Keeping business staff informed about channel activities: The customer care executives should always be prepared to assist customers and deliver the offer irrespective of the channel used to promote it. This is possible only when they are adequately informed about the channels.

* Encoding promotional offers and channels to link responses and preferences to customer records: This is important to track the results and for developing future marketing and advertising campaigns.

* Regularly testing integrated strategies developed for different customer segments: Customers who prefer catalogues and direct mails may behave differently from those who prefer to buy online. They may require different communications to generate incremental sales. It is necessary to test the success of all individual channels.

For a successful integrated channels architecture, the business must deploy systems that deliver ideal customer experiences while also empowering its own employees. It should build the essential linkages between the point systems.

To avoid getting lost along the way, business managers must have a clear roadmap that helps them maintain tight linkage between customer strategy, organization capabilities and technology.

About Kristjan Mar Hauksson

Kristjan Mar Hauksson is the Director of Internet Marketing at NordiceMarketing. Kristjan specializes in search engine optimization, marketing and online PR. His expertise is in assisting companies to gain multilingual international visibility through the search engines. He is the founder of the Icelandic SEO/SEM forum and contributes regularly as a presenter for organizations, companies, and non-profit organizations.

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This post was written by an author who is not a regular contributor to State of Digital. See all the other regular State of Digital authors here. Opinions expressed in the article are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of State of Digital.
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