Disparate data systems and teams are amplifying the already considerable challenges around cross channel marketing. That is why many marketers feel their customer’s experiences are “broken”. 

Many, in fact believe their organisations struggle to even accurately identify customers across channels and devices.

That’s the message from an Oracle Marketing Cloud ebook which explores the current state of cross channel marketing as well as offering a strategic approach to the challenge.

“The customer experience as we know it is broken, out of order, or at best in life support,” the authors write in Cross-Channel Marketing: A Prescriptive Guide Fortified to Build Stronger Marketing.

The struggles are particularly surprising given the advances in digital marketing, although new channels are arguably also adding to the complexity of a marketing mix.

Research cited in the ebook suggests more than three quarters of customers receive a fragmented experience as they move from channel to channel. At best this leaves customers unimpressed, at worst it ends the relationship.

A seperate study referenced in the ebook found 94 per cent of consumers and prospects discontinue relationships because of irrelevant ads or promotions. The message is disconnected experiences are costing organisations money.

The ebook also offers a strategy to improve cross channel marketing, regardless of the organisations maturity. 

The authors argue improvements boil down to three areas: data, attribution and experience.

Data is in the driver’s seat

The proliferation of data and increasingly fragmented customer journeys have created an enormous challenge around identifying and understanding customers. A single customer can have several IDs across different devices and channels, often leading to disjointed messages and experiences.

To answer this challenge, Oracle recommends developing a single view of the customer with an “ID map strategy”, essentially connecting the dots between the desperate customer IDs.

“The key will be for marketers to work either with their in-house teams or external vendors who can offer a solution that enables marketers to accurately connect their audiences across channels, devices, browsers, and environments to form a single view of a customer and deliver the most relevant experience when they engage with your brand,” the authors write.

Solving the identity challenge should take precedence over identifying particular attributes of individual customers, according to the ebook. In other words, get the basics right first.

Attribution is riding shotgun

While identifying the customer is paramount, attributing their actions is also necessary to close the gaps in cross channel marketing. This has always been a challenge for marketers but one that has only grown in complexity with new channels and devices.

“The main objective of an attribution model is to offer a simple mathematical formula to measure the impact of each marketing communication at different touch points throughout the conversion path,” according to the authors of the ebook.

Of course, the value of each touchpoint will vary by customer but the authors suggests attribution is advancing towards a point where the “holy grail” of digital marketing — an accurate measure of ROI — may be possible.

For now though ROI analysis across multiple channels “is still in its infancy” and marketers still struggle to track the impact of mixing traditional channels with digital. Others, however, have little doubt a comprehensive marketing mix is greater than the some of its parts, as much as 20 per cent more, according to recent research.

“What they can track today are conversion rates when select channels are combined. Customers are happy too because they’re getting messages that resonate and are delivered through the channels they use most,” the authors write, noting the strategy requires leadership from CMOs.

Experience is the engine (but it’s broken)

Customer experience is what powers “the marketing machine”, according to the ebook, or at least it should be. Oracle argues that customer experience is broken because the marketing experience is broken.

“When you have thousands of products—and millions of customers with different affinities that you want to connect with those products—building personalised experiences is a tall order. 

“To do it right, it’s much more than just getting someone’s name right, or understanding that they purchased a particular product.”

However, many customer journeys are designed in simplistic, binary ways, according to the ebook. For example, when a customer ends a journey, deciding to purchase or not, automated systems have been built to offer one of two messages both outcomes ending the journey.

According to the ebook, this unnecessarily ends a journey and forces marketers to begin a new program. “Over time, this creates extra work for the marketer that prevents them from being more strategic.”

An underutilisation of data and disparate resources are also producing too simplistic and often competing messages, according to the ebook. But this is not just a technology problem.

The authors note disjointed teams and departments, which should be working towards a common experience goal, often end up inadvertently competing and “bombarding” customers with the same or irrelevant messages.

“Because each of them has a job to do, they create new campaigns with separate applications to bombard customers with different promotions—and it turns out the majority of these aren’t hitting the mark with customers.”

About the author

Joseph Brookes is a writer for the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit, of which Oracle Marketing Cloud is a corporate member. Our members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.

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