Effective Customer Engagement Relies on Cross-Channel Integration

Marketers have long relied on multiple channels to drive engagement, but today marketing requires a new approach – one built on a single view of the customer that values real-time interaction over static channel-focused campaigns. The antiquated one-to-many monologue of mass marketing has given way to the one-to-one digital dialogue of engagement marketing that is fueled by customer data and enabled by interactive marketing technology.

As Forrester Research noted in its November 2010 report, CMO Mandate: Adapt or Perish, “in the future, there will be two types of companies – those that are agile and adapt to consumers’ changing media behavior and those that go out of business.”

In “The Age of the Individual,” the most successful marketers are using a carefully integrated mix of Email, Mobile, Social media to attract, engage and retain customers. This “triangle offense” strategy is enabling brands like Scotts Miracle-Gro, Best Buy, Belk,  to accelerate their ability to engage customers in real-time and dramatically improve marketing and sales performance.

From “Campaign Management” to “Interaction Management”

The days of the “single-channel” customer are gone and they’re not coming back. Today’s customer interacts with a brand through multiple online and offline channels.  Every conversation, every interaction a customer has with a brand – whether it occurs face-to-face, through Email, on the phone, on the website, on Twitter, on Facebook, or SMS – shapes the customer’s opinion and influences how he or she talks about the brand.

When these channels operate independently – instead of cohesively as one – messages often conflict, offers are not consistent, and the customer’s perception is that the brand is dysfunctional and totally unprepared to anticipate and respond to his or her needs. Not exactly a positive brand experience.

On the flipside however, when a brand creates a single database of knowledge about that customer and uses it to deliver consistent messages and timely offers across multiple channels, the customer’s brand experience is quite different.

This is the fundamental difference between “Campaign Management” and “Interaction Management.”

Customer Data is an Asset. Manage it Accordingly.

A company’s customer base should be managed like an investment portfolio, and like a good investment advisor, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service all share responsibility for maximizing the performance of that portfolio.  And that requires a single source of reliable customer data that fuels the operations of each department.

That’s why it’s so important to manage information about each and every customer interaction in a shared business system that all customer-facing employees can access and use to communicate with and serve the customer.  This way, the customer is treated correctly and consistently because Marketing, Sales and Customer Service are all aware of his or her needs and interests, previous purchases, and value.

Not only does this single view of the customer make it easier for employees to make smarter marketing decisions and interact with customers more effectively, it also creates a better experience for the consumer. Integrating cross-channel data in a single database creates an invaluable corporate asset, and accelerates the ability to interact more effectively with individual customers in real-time.

Serving has become the New Selling

To truly serve customers better, companies must learn to market to a “segment of one” because today’s customer wants more control over the content that is being delivered through Email, Mobile, Social Media and Website channels.

No longer is it appropriate or acceptable to guess what information or offers the customer wants – in fact it is destructive to the customer relationship. The recent Subscribers, Fans & Followers research conducted by ExactTarget revealed that 90% of consumers unsubscribe, unfan, or unfollow when the communication received from brands is too frequent or the content is irrelevant.

In the “Age of the Individual” consumers expect to be served, not sold.  When companies make the commitment to understanding individual customer needs and interests, and using that insight to deliver content that is timely, relevant and useful, they not only sell more, they create a community of “brand advocates” who become some of the company’s most effective marketers.

Don’t miss Joel Book, Principal, Marketing Research & Education Group from ExactTarget, session on Monday, August 8th at HostingCon 2011! Register today to participate in the biggest and best HostingCon ever!

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