Integrated Multichannel Marketing: Three Steps to Success

March 5, 2018

By: Jeff Fowler
President and Founder of Decision Software

In many organizations, marketing operates in a decentralized fashion, with a different manager in charge of each major communication channel. Often, these managers work directly with in-house IT, running data pulls for their campaigns and sending solicit files to ESPs and lettershops. There are also trigger campaigns that run continuously, grabbing consumers that make a transaction (e.g., place an order or inquiry, abandon their shopping cart) and targeting them with an offer. Finally, there are ongoing informational messages such as newsletters, announcements, notifications, and status updates. Plus, transactional emails such as order and shipping confirmations.

All too often, these disjointed communications overwhelm frazzled consumers suffering from marketing overload through multiple channels. As database marketers, we’re in a perfect position to avoid inundating customers by exercising discipline and agreeing on a few broad-based rules. Here are three important steps to help you integrate and manage your multichannel marketing efforts:

1. The marketing database MUST be the system of record for all consumer communications

Although this sounds obvious, there are still times when channel managers pull data from internal legacy systems instead of the database. Properly built marketing databases undergo address cleansing, consolidate duplicates, assign a unique and persistent ID for each consumer, store all relevant consumer transactions, and maintain a centralized promotion history in which a record of every contact made to every consumer is captured. If you truly need to pull campaign data from your ERP system, you have a problem with your marketing database which needs to be resolved.

2. Create a message hierarchy

This can get a bit bloody, but you’ve got to decide which communications are important and which are non-essential. For example, order confirmations or expire notifications are essential, but a sales promotion is not. The idea is not to suppress marketing promotions, but rather to control when and how frequently they are made.

3. Establish a “cooling off” period between solicitations

Throughout your marketing campaigns, add logic that provides an adequate period of time after “touching” consumers before soliciting them again, either within the same channel or across different channels. A great way to control this timing is to add solicit date fields on your customer table (e.g., LastEmailDate, LastDMDate), and update the appropriate date each time you touch a consumer. With this process in place, it becomes fairly easy for non-essential campaigns to exclude consumers that are within their cooling off period. Note that while certain messages – expiration notices, newsletters, etc. – ignore the cooling off period, they should still update the appropriate date. Further, if you set up your recurring campaigns properly, this technique won’t cause you to lose marketing opportunities; rather, it presents the opportunity at a time when the consumer isn’t distracted with other messages.

In today’s digital, real time world – as the amount of available data explodes and the number of consumer touchpoints multiplies every day – it is more important than ever to keep your marketing database at the center of your multichannel marketing, using it to enforce business rules that maximize your opportunity to build and retain profitable customer relationships.