In some ways, marketing hasn't changed much since the days of Don Draper: great ads, compelling copy, and cool products still make the experience. But in others, it’s an entirely different ballgame. New media platforms have, and will continue to, change the way marketers manage campaigns across different channels.
And when it comes to cross-channel marketing at big companies, knowing whether your TV, print, social, mobile, and direct mail advertising are individually working, much less how they work together, is still a major challenge. While most (78%) companies believe it’s important or very important, more than half (51%) still believe their current marketing efforts fall short due to a lack of analytics that provide cross-channel data—that according to a recent survey conducted by Forrester Research.
Forrester, commissioned by ExactTarget, used an online survey to investigate the outlook and application of cross-channel strategies and technologies of 211 U.S. marketers with annual revenues of $100 million or more. While some companies "get it," many are still struggling to understand customer interactions across channels and manage execution across multiple technologies. Not surprising, some of the biggest hurdles involve the lack of headcount (49%), and know-how (42%).
Although there are lots of solutions out there to help marketers manage particular aspects of their cross-channel programs, we’re still not at a point where one single solution can handle everything. And that’s definitely not surprising. Just a few short years ago, cross-channel marketing might have meant print advertising, TV/radio, and direct mail. Now, social media and mobile marketing have created a new frontier that companies and customers are still trying to figure out. With each new touch point comes new customer experiences, more interactions, higher expectations, and a boat load of data to analyze.
I know it’s hard to image a world without Facebook or Twitter, but they’ve only been around for a few short years. Add in the rapid evolution and widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets, and marketers are faced with some huge strategic challenges. They’ve got to figure out what to do, where to do it, and how to pull it all together in a way that’s seamless for customers and measurable and manageable on the backend.
With all of this added complexity, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and miss the big picture. The key to any cross-channel marketing campaign is to raise awareness of your company (products, services, brand), attract and retain customers, and sell stuff. In my experiences as a consumer, I have to say the vast majority of the companies that I interact with socially just don’t get it—they don’t respond to comments, return emails in a timely fashion, or embrace those brand champions that the marketing experts are always talking about.
Investing in a single integrated technology platform, adding more headcount, and making sure your staff possess the right technical skills are all obviously hugely important. But just like marketing during the days of Don Draper, your ultimate success will come down to the customer experience you’re able to create.
[Image: Flickr user Christina Saint Marche]