I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.
The marketing landscape has changed rapidly in the past few years and continues to evolve with new technologies and channels. While email remains a valuable source for communication, many companies are struggling to extend their reach on other channels, such as mobile, without increasing the strain on their already over-extended marketing resources.
In the past, technology and marketing often had opposing business constraints and objectives. To effectively execute compelling campaigns, marketers had to leverage modern messaging and techniques. But without the aid of an integrated multi-channel marketing automation platform, the technology and resources needed to execute such a strategy lived in disparate locations and represented a growing expense that many companies cannot afford.
The good news is that services-oriented marketing automation platforms, which leverage APIs to connect disparate data and information, can deliver true multi-channel communication. In this blog, I’ll walk you through the reasons why multi-channel marketing has lived in silos and how a complete marketing automation platform can enable cohesive messaging:
Siloed Multi-Channel Marketing
To some marketers, being able to coordinate cross-channel communications can feel like a dream straight out of the Wizard of Oz. These marketers typically use a step-by-step approach for executing targeted offers that’s similar to an assembly line:
- Identify the target audience
- Pull counts based on audience criteria
- Verify count accuracy
- Develop targeted messaging/layout with offers
- Align program audience/offer personalization
- Execute the campaign
While this approach offers a reliable method for ensuring that the right messages reach the right audiences, it puts enormous strain on the marketing team during peak seasons.
Due to previous technical limitations, progressive companies extended communication into other channels by investing in devoted systems for the new mediums. These companies believed in the value of impressions within the new channels and were willing to invest in the additional personnel needed and technology to staff these programs. The result? Multi-channel marketing with a larger marketing team and more complex execution.
Other companies have looked at the potential cost and complexity of multi-channel marketing and have taken a wait-and-see approach. Now entrenched in world-class and highly-refined processes for executing email marketing, the thought of adding new methods of communication presented a level of risk that produced a sense of dread. Until…
Technology is Paving the Yellow Brick Road
Services-oriented architectures are now allowing marketers to develop content and define audiences with a drastically lower impact on the technology stack while drawing upon efficiencies produced from shared datasets and functionality. For example, previous attempts at managing marketing offers within smartphone applications might have required unique coding within a devoted platform. Aside from having to hire individuals with specialized skills, this presented support concerns from IT and still left marketers with the additional challenge of connecting offers to specific audiences within a separate customer database.
But now, rather than having to set up unique configurations within the application itself, marketers with access to a complete marketing automation system can develop content within a marketing-friendly platform that connects to their applications through a standard API. With a centralized location for content development, marketers can also properly attribute audiences with targeted campaigns through the same platform, resulting in centralized marketing with a lower cost of implementation and management and higher returns.
The Implications for the Future
One of the largest impacts of a connected and centralized marketing automation platform is that it greatly reduces the amount of strain placed on the IT Team for supporting marketing initiatives. Once the core services and structure are in place, advanced marketing automation platforms allow marketers to build audiences and push communications to other platforms without having to change system code. This can represent a significant opportunity for both teams to accelerate their initiatives and deliver higher-quality results for the business.
A second benefit is the ability to manage a cohesive strategy. With the right marketing automation platform, it becomes easier to build and execute campaigns across multiple channels with tightly coordinated timing and consistent content. All of this leads to increased results and revenue. Improved audience definition and management means that less time is spent rebuilding and coordinating personalization across disparate systems. With content being created within a centralized and familiar platform, more can be done with existing resources while reducing the complexity and strain placed on your talented employees. This ultimately leads to an improved customer experience and higher levels of employee satisfaction.
What Next? Off to See the Wizard
If you’ve been a little shy about considering a multi-channel marketing strategy, take a moment to evaluate marketing automation solutions that can support a cohesive and centralized marketing approach. If you’ve experienced challenges executing a multi-channel marketing strategy with your current processes or marketing automation provider, there may be new alternatives that can pull these strategies together.
Here are a few questions worth asking during your marketing automation evaluation:
- How important is multi-channel communication to our campaign success?
- Can this platform support multi-channel marketing within a central system or will it cause your marketing team to have to manage communication through multiple, disconnected features?
- Are we sacrificing the opportunity to make customer impressions within certain marketing channels because we are comfortable with what we’ve been doing to date?
Have you already adopted marketing automation to engage in true, multi-channel communications with your buyers–without the headache? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.