Integrating social and emerging media in a cross-channel approach: follow the customer journey


When talking about cross-channel marketing in this interactive marketing era, we often think about an integrated marketing strategy with digital channels, social media and website or blog touch points, with a "connecting" role for e-mail marketing, online forms, marketing automation and interactive CRM.

We often forget offline channels and customer interactions via call centres, direct mail and other forms of direct marketing, trade shows etc. However, although a lot is happening in online, social media and mobile marketing, cross-channel marketing and its challenges are not new. And neither is the crucial role of databases and the integration with customer analytics and CRM.

In 2005, the MIT Center for eBusiness published a report, called "The Cross Channel Impact of Marketing Communications". It showed that the cross-channel impact of marketing campaigns and programs was already a hot topic then, among others, because of the Internet.

All online channels, as they existed then, formed a challenge for cross-channel marketing and for a global and holistic look regarding the identification of the sources where customers and prospects came from and how their buying journey developed throughout all possible interactions.

Since then, we saw the development of advanced marketing automation and lead management tools, web analytics platforms and customer intelligence and management systems that helped businesses in getting that cross-channel view and approach.

With the arrival of social media and the increasing focus on inbound marketing, however, it again has become more difficult for businesses to develop, manage and optimize a cross-channel marketing mix strategy and to follow and serve the prospect and customer throughout all interactions. It is as if every new development brings the same cross-channel marketing challenges back with one crucial question: how do we add this to the mix? The answer is not in looking at the channels but at the customer...

Cross-channel challenges regarding social media marketing

As recent studies have shown, many marketers find it very hard to trace the impact and ROI of social media marketing and integrate social in a cross-channel marketing strategy.

One of the reasons is that immediate conversion can be tracked on social media (clicks etc.) but the real conversion, from prospect to customer, in inbound marketing, requires another approach. On top of that, the impact of social media engagement, reviews, etc. has to be measured in other ways.

New metrics regarding reach and engagement should make it easier to translate social media marketing effects into understandable metrics that can be used in a cross-channel perspective.

We should also realize that social media marketing and inbound marketing are broad terms that cover a wide range of underlying marketing channels and tactics.
Other forms of social media marketing strive more towards having or building a community around your brand. Here the purpose is to bring as much people as possible in the influence sphere of your brand.

No matter how important all these metrics may be, ultimately it is all about the end result of a cross-channel journey, and the conversion from connection, contact, subscriber or "relationship" to customer, in the broadest sense of the word.

Building CRM and integrated marketing strategies around the customer

Cross-channel and multi-channel marketing are becoming an imperative. There are more channels than ever before and they should not sit in silos if you have a customer-centric approach.

When combined and integrated in function of the customer journey (his buying journey, his information seeking journey, etc.), all channels strengthen each other. Smart and coordinated cross-channel campaigns not only improve the reach your brand has but are also a necessity in this era where people want to be able to choose communication channels of their preference themselves.

That's one of the reasons it is time to integrate social, mobile and so on in a cross-channel marketing approach, without forgetting all other online and offline interaction moments with a solid data-driven marketing and CRM strategy, built around the customer.

Discover how to solve these new cross-channel challenges in these white papers:

Do you want to engage the multi-channel consumer?

Today's customer is cross-channel and he/she is at the centre of sales and marketing.

Communication channels depend on the consumer and marketing is about engaging the cross-channel customer and prospect throughout integrated dialogues that are driven by his/her buying journey, preferences, triggers, signals and behaviour.

Discover why your business should move to an integrated marketing approach step by step and how.

Download our white paper "Moving towards integrated interactive marketing".