How to reduce the risk of bad marketing decisions

Steve Merritt, Multi Channel Marketing Services at Acxiom explains how to accelerate your marketing to help build effective customer engagement and reduce the risk of bad marketing decisions.

Not knowing the best actions to take when marketing to consumers can be a gamble. Important insight is buried deep inside oceans of data. Often, customer data may seem either out of reach or too complicated to be useful.

Co-ordinating numerous third parties and internal departments along with finding the right personnel to analyse and execute refined campaigns are complicated tasks for most marketing groups. Add in cross-channel consumer preferences and the result is a complex knot that cannot be undone by most organisations.

Is there an easier way to deliver relevant crosschannel messages to prospects and customers? To meet these challenges, many companies are turning to affordable cross-channel marketing solutions. Designed to bring the power of highend database marketing tools to mid-sized organisations, these solutions enable marketing groups to execute automated crosschannel campaigns based on intelligent insight rather than intuition. This article will examine the challenges faced by marketing and reveal the many advantages of affordable crosschannel marketing solutions.

Trends influencing marketing

A growing number of channels and the pressure to do more with less are two key drivers motivating marketing to change. These trends also create conflicts for marketing.

“Proliferation of choice offers marketers new opportunities such as social networks, mobile and branded entertainment. Each of these has its own success metric and dynamic, making comparison and the calculation of ROI impossible,” stated a Forrester Research report.

“New channels mean more work for marketing. As marketing departments face pressure to cut budgets whilst expanding capabilities, technology will play an important role in enabling success,” stated a Gartner study.

Leveraging customer insight will be an important key to success. “The customer database, initially built in most organisations to support direct marketing, is increasingly being used far beyond its original purpose,” stated a Forrester Research study. The study found that the customer database is influencing many different activities, such as telemarketing, customer segmentation strategies, market research, contact optimisation, traditional advertising, public relations, search marketing, customer service calls, product development and product pricing.

However, marketers face major challenges bringing customer information into their databases and delivering integrated messages across channels.

Challenges that deter marketing’s success
Three major challenges stand in the way of the marketing department’s success:

  • the inability to prove that marketing efforts are working out of control spending different groups competing for the same customers.
  • out of control spending
  • different groups competing for the same customers.

1. Measuring the immeasurable

Marketing is facing increased pressure to justify its expenses. Because data resides in a variety of information sources and among different groups, it’s often impossible to know how a marketing activity directly impacts on sales. This can lead to the perception that marketing is a cost centre in need of trimming.

Part of the problem is the long arm of marketing. For example, database marketing, product marketing, creative advertising, branding, media planning, marketing communications and public relations are just a sample of the groups that create messages that influence customers. When partners such as marketing service providers, market research firms, email service providers and direct marketing companies are added to the mix, the resulting communication coordination can be overwhelming. Then consider how a customer behaves when contacting the call centre, visiting the company website or responding to emails. Accessing and interpreting mountains of customer data spread across groups is a Herculean task for many marketing departments.

As a result of data deluge, usable customer and prospect information is actually sparse. For example, Forrester Research found that only half of businesses claim to have both email and physical addresses for more than 40% of marketing is having an impact becomes particularly challenging when the results cannot be connected to sales. Fortunately, new solutions are attacking these problems head-on.

2. Wasteful spending

Because not all customer data is in one place, marketing departments often employ anecdotal contact strategies in the hope that ‘something will work’. Rather than making evidence-based decisions, marketing must often take a shot in the dark, hoping customers will respond. This typically results in multiple – and often conflicting – offers to the same customer. For example, an email campaign promoting a discount can improve conversions. However, the same campaign offered to a consumer who has already purchased the product or service could damage the overall customer experience. The result of duplicated marketing is wasted materials and inefficient spending.

This becomes more complicated when many different third parties are employed to help communicate with customers. For example, one partner might handle email and the other direct mail. Because customer actions and insight are locked inside different data repositories, making informed contact decisions becomes virtually impossible. The end result is often “over marketing” to customers. However, new technology is helping marketing gain better insight to intelligently direct its marketing efforts.

3. Marketing silos hinder progress

Many marketing executives see the value of integrating marketing channels, but lack the in-house resources to properly implement such efforts. Marketing silos inside the organisation complicate this.

“Most firms structure their business around products or channels. As a result, they lack a cross business understanding of the value of individual customers. The result?

Communications are seldom co-ordinated or consistent across lines of business or channels,” stated Forrester Research.

When multiple, isolated databases function across business units, the result is a lack of a central repository of customer data and no understanding of a customer’s relationship to the entire business.

The Solution: Affordable cross-channel marketing solutions

Designed to help marketers make informed decisions and measure success, affordable cross-channel marketing solutions are empowering marketing groups with the same high-powered tools used by the UK’s top companies, but without the great expense.

These solutions combine customer and prospect data in a single repository, bringing together data from multiple departments and partners for greater insight and advanced contact strategies. Now all the essential tools and processes are available in one automated solution that works across channels. By gathering and organising customer contact information and transactional history, affordable cross-channel marketing solutions can provide a single view of each customer and prospect.

With this type of solution, customers can be easily segmented into groups based on actual knowledge of their behaviour. For example, high-value customers can easily be located and offered special incentives. Alternatively, customers exhibiting behaviour similar to high-value customers can be nurtured into more valuable relationships.

KEY POINTS

The many advantages of affordable cross-channel marketing solutions

  • Empowers marketers to make analytically driven, fact-based marketing decisions
  • Enables cross-channel communication based on behaviour and preferences, improving response
  • Demonstrates the effectiveness of marketing campaigns with comprehensive reporting and tracking
  • Eliminates up-front capital outlay, enabling faster implementation Centralises customer data into a single location for advanced marketing tactics
  • Empowers directors to market more intelligently and with more relevant offers S
  • peeds campaign efficiency by planning and executing campaigns in less than an hour
  • Enables marketers to deliver more relevant messages to fewer individuals with greater return
  • Reduces costs by eliminating duplicate or inaccurate customer data
  • Calculates the cost of campaigns automatically
  • Helps manage campaigns within budget parameters
  • Enables the creation of smaller, more effective campaigns

ACXIOM

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