Cross-Channel Marketing Platforms Buyer's Guide - Experian

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Cross-Channel MarketingPlatforms Buyer’s GuideWhat every brand should know about selecting across-channel marketing platform vendor

This guide is intended to help you understand each of the following so that you canconfidently embrace cross-channel marketing and effectively implement a trulyoptimized cross-channel marketing program:The rationale for a cross-channel marketing programThe definition of a cross-channel marketing platform The path to implementing your own cross-channelmarketing programThe means and methods for identifying the best vendor to help yourorganization execute a cross-channel marketing strategy of its own

Table of contentsI. Summary. 4II. The cross-channel rationale: Is it really necessary?. 5Multichannel consumers in a channel-centric world.5Multichannel is NOT cross-channel.6The risk of waiting.7The brand meltdown.8The heart of an integrated cross-channel marketing platform.8III. Planning your own cross-channel program. 10Identifying your requirements.101. Tearing down siloes AND corporate mindsets.102. Marketing Sophistication Curve .113. Customer mapping — aligning your business around the customer.124. Data requirements.12IV. Evaluating vendors. 13Strategic fit. 131. Flexibility.132. Collaborative mindset.133. Holistic discovery process.14Is the platform truly cross-channel?. 141. Why it matters.142. The cross-channel smell test.15Cross-channel system architecture.161. Data capabilities.162. Scalability, availability and disaster recovery.173. Application flexibility.174. Single customer view.175. Real-time.186. Testing.187. Security.188. Going beyond execution.199. Global. 2010. Test drive. 20V. Top 20 must-ask questions for cross-channel marketing platform vendors. 21VI. Conclusion. 28

I. SummaryToday, most marketing organizations are experiencing immense changes that are reshaping virtually every facet of the customer experience.Endless supplies of devices and channels connected through a hyper-expanding network that never sleeps have combined to create aconsumer class that wants — no, expects — meaningful connections to the products, services and brands they find of interest.The result has been a kind of polar reversal in the brand-consumer power dynamic — the consumer gobbles up more and more control of theso-called “buyer’s journey,” while marketers engage in a desperate struggle to catch up (let alone get back in front of the curve).The result is an abrupt (and escalating) pressure on corporate marketing organizations to become experts in this new customer-centricterrain, to take up position on every possible customer channel and to recognize — and intelligently engage — their customers wherever andwhenever they choose to make contact.The cross-channel imperativeModern consumers do not traverse marketing “channels,” they do notrepresent some archetypical “buyer personas,” nor do they envisionthemselves engaged in the buyer’s journey. No, in their minds, they aresimply engaged in the age-old, everyday practice of shopping — or,if you prefer, searching for products, services and information aboutsomething of interest to them.The issue, of course, is that this phenomenon is undergoing dramaticand irrevocable changes driven by technologies that are givingconsumers insights and access into brands at a pace that outstripsmarketers’ own efforts to generate insights into thosesame consumers.Though not so very long ago a customer might have been pleasantlysurprised by, and statistically more likely to respond to, a personalizedemail using dynamic, variable-based content, today that samecustomer expects to seamlessly navigate across a growing array ofchannels and be met at every step of the way with messaging andoffers tailored to her unique relationship with that brand.It is important to remember that a brand’s inability to meet suchstandards is not the problem of today’s customer, whose multichannelmantra might be best summed up as convenience. As moretechnologies continue to make it easier for consumers to find preciselywhat they want and when they want it, it is required that brandsaccommodate this convenient new world or lose customers to the nextcompetitor that will accommodate such needs.4 Cross-Channel Marketing Platforms Buyer’s GuideToday’s brand must find a way to connect all of its channelsif it is truly going to understand what its customers aredoing. It’s not just about what they’re doing in the storeversus what they do online, for example, but understandingthe continuum of the entire customer experience.– David Seifert, VP Ecommerce,LIDS Sports GroupThe cross-channel mantraAll of this raises the question of how brands should best employtechnology, data and insights, as well as evolving customer habits, tomeet their financial goals. In other words, how do brand marketers useall of these new interconnected technologies and touchpoints to shift theconsumer-brand dynamic back in their favor?Cross-channel marketing has become something of its ownorganizational mantra, with a growing number of companiesexpressing cross-channel aspirations of their own and an almostequally long list of vendors promising platforms and programs capableof delivering on those plans.Despite these intentions and vendor promises, it is still clear thatthere is considerable confusion about how best to implement a crosschannel marketing program that actually meets the needs of themodern consumer.

Table of contentsII. The cross-channel rationale: Is it really necessary?Given the enormous complexities and organizational commitments required for the design and implementation of a cross-channelmarketing program, it is entirely fair and reasonable to ask whether such an initiative is, in fact, truly necessary. Or, for those alreadycommitted to cross-channel, the question instead might be one of degrees, as in just how thorough or complete must the scope of theircross-channel marketing programs be?Unfortunately, these additions usually are implemented in waysalmost guaranteed to fail (or, at the very least, to create significantnew demands on already strained marketing resources).Multichannel consumers in a channel-centric worldFirst, these new channel programs are modeled along the samechannel-centric approach that already limits the brand’s reach. In otherwords, these channels are working in addition to, verses in conjunctionwith, existing marketing efforts. Operations remain stubbornlysiloed. Second, these new additions often take a back seat to theorganization’s “favorite child” marketing program — they’re brought in,as it were, as a kind of “step-channel” unlikely to get the resources orcredit as their favored counterpart.For good reason, the enormous and fast-moving changessweeping across the marketing landscape have been likened to akind of technological tsunami. Just as floodwaters are said to find away around, past or through impediments, so too are moderncustomers piggybacking on an endless array of interconnecteddevices to research, surf and search, inquire, listen, and otherwise finda way into the brands that most intrigue them.The challenge, of course, is that an awful lot of this multichannelconsumer travel is taking place via methods and means for whichbrands are wholly unprepared. Or as Forrester Principal AnalystLori Wizdo puts it, today’s consumers “control their journey through thebuying cycle much more than today’s vendors control theselling cycle.”1In an effort to recapture some of that control, many, if not most, brandsare adding additional channels to their existing marketing mixes.“There are too many companies out there that are still very siloed,thinking about channels and how to optimize those channels,” saysDan LeBlanc, Vice President, customer intelligence & relationshipmanagement at Provide Commerce, the company that owns leadingbrands such as ProFlowers, RedEnvelope, and Shari’sBerries. “They just aren’t recognizing how the modern customer acts.”In defense of these positions, many marketing organizations point tothe old adage about not fixing something that isn’t broken. The logicbeing that, for example, if single-channel is still delivering results, thenwhy rearchitect the entire marketing enterprise until — and unless —it is absolutely necessary?The problem, of course, is that by the time a brand realizes that otherchannels are gaining favor with its customers, it will find itself in adesperate game of catch-up with those same customers. Or as anysavvy marketer knows, it is much harder to determine retroactivelywhat happened to customers after they’ve abandoned the brand thanto monitor their behavior, and engage them while they’re still onboard.1 Wizdo, Lori. Buyer Behavior Helps B2B Marketers Guide the Buyer’s Journey. Forrester Research Inc. Oct. 4, 2012.What every brand should know about selecting a cross-channel marketing vendor 5

The irony is that many of today’s marketers, while themselves beingmultichannel consumers, treat their own customers as if they will alwaysengage along the same channels. They’re planning for how things were,instead of how they are, and it’s starting to come back to bite them.– Jeff Hassemer, SVP, Global Marketing PlatformsExperian Marketing ServicesMultichannel is NOT cross-channelWhat these organizations are in fact practicing is more akin tomultichannel marketing. Customers may indeed be able to engage thebrand across multiple channels and even find many, if not all, of thesechannels expertly implemented and managed.Problems arise when the customer migrates acrossthose channels. Absent the integrated capacities of atrue cross-channel platform, the customer’s experiencewith the brand might be described as careless,uncoordinated, turbulent or even downright chaotic.The point being, that the same expectation of seamless, pain-freehandoff from one channel to another is coming to every brand. Aconsumer who experiences a sophisticated, turbulence-free customerexperience with one brand is going to easily sniff out and abandon thenonintegrated cross-channel poseurs.“[Today’s] customers are increasingly well-informed andcommunications savvy,” states strategy and technology consultingfirm, Booz & Company, which means that the conventional marketingworld’s “channel-by-channel approach is no longer enough.”2Or as Wizdo concludes: These fragmented brands “might be marketingconsistently over multiple channels, but they aren’t engaging customersin a seamless experience.”3 And there is risk in failing to do so — realand tangible risk.Flash back for a moment to the early days of the cellular industry whena traveler might expect to have the same call repeatedly dropped dueto “dead zones.” Today, such interruptions in service are consideredjarring enough to send that customer in search of a new contract withcompetitive carrier.2 Multi-Channel Customer Management: Delighting Consumers, Driving Efficiency. Booz & Company. Nov. 6, 2009.3 Wizdo, Lori. Buyer Behavior Helps B2B Marketers Guide the Buyer’s Journey. Forrester Research Inc. Oct. 4, 2012.6 Cross-Channel Marketing Platforms Buyer’s Guide

Table of contentsThe risk of waitingTo ignore the cross-channel imperative represents a hugerisk. Everybody’s working toward cross-channel right nowand the retailers that don’t get to this point are going toseriously lose some business. Just because I bought aproduct in the store doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know itwhen I call you on the phone or when I send you an email.Or if I buy something online and you don’t connect thedots . well, people are just going to stop buying from you.– David Seifert, VP EcommerceLIDS Sports GroupThose dots are, of course, the customer data that is collectedacross every available resource, including marketing channels,customer relationship management (CRM) systems, point-of-Not much forme here .sale (POS), third-party resources, social media, call centersystems, etc. A brand’s ability to capture, aggregate andmine that data easily and quickly for deep insights into itscustomers will enable the brand to leapfrog its competition.The absence of this cross-channel customer intelligence can beseen in the very real losses suffered by today’s businesses. Onestudy states that U.S. retailers lose nearly 100 billion each yearfrom poorly executed cross-channel marketing efforts.4 And incase you are wondering, it’s a global problem. The same studyshows German businesses losing more than 1.5 billion annually“due to a narrow focus on single channels.”And therein lies the answer to any fence-sitting brand unsure aboutthe urgency of the cross-channel imperative: The multichannel buyeris already here. Customers are out there knocking on a variety of doorsand more often than not, they find an uncoordinated response (if theyfind one at all).4 Datamonitor/Ovum Research Study 2011GenericMarketing CityPopulation: 7,256,866

In the old days, companies controlled the brand. But social networks have reversed that dynamic. So today when a company errs,the risk isn’t that the customer tells the neighbors — the risk is that the customer tells his or her social network, which, of course,is connected to the entire global population. The risks of a brand meltdown are not to be taken lightly.– Dan LeBlanc, VP of customer intelligence,Provide CommerceThe brand meltdownThere is another risk — that of the unattended social channel that’stalking about your brand without you listening.For example, regardless of what brands think about social media’sefficacy as a branding agent, it poses a very real risk as a kind of antiagent. In other words, social media can (and there is plenty of evidenceof this happening) devastate a brand that isn’t paying attention.What if your company — perhaps just one employee — makes a publicmistake and a belligerent customer exposes that mistake througha social network. “And then it goes bad,” continues LeBlanc. “Andthen it goes really bad. And then it goes really, really bad,” — themetaphorical equivalent of a nuclear meltdown, although in this caseit’s your brand — “and you don’t know how to control it.”The secret, then, isn’t effective damage control. It’s to be out on thosechannels, listening, paying attention, being aware of what customersare saying about your brand. “Businesses,” adds LeBlanc, “have to beobsessed about the customer — you have to be obsessed about theexperience that customer has. If you integrate all of your channels,you’re really going to flourish. Fail to do so, however, and you are goingto struggle. You might even get slaughtered, to be blunt about it.”The heart of an integrated cross-channelmarketing platformThe simple definition of an integrated cross-channelmarketing platform is one that is built from theground up with the expressed intent of helping brandsunderstand and meet the needs of today’s informedand empowered multichannel customer.Through the rest of this guide, we will talk about howbrands and marketers can plan for, and execute, theirown cross-channel program.The marketing industry hears a lot of talk about ‘empowered consumers’ and it’s easy to dismiss it as just another fad. The truthis that the empowered consumer is an industry-altering phenomenon that will either make or break modern organizations. Thecompanies that reconfigure their marketing programs, policies and infrastructure for an empowered, multichannel consumer aregoing to win. It’s that simple.– Peter DeNunzio,President of cross-channel marketing, Experian Marketing Services8 Cross-Channel Marketing Platforms Buyer’s Guide

A cross-channel horror storyDana notices a friend’s Facebook post gushing about a specialAnnoyed that she cannot read the coupon on her phone, Dana isoffer for a pair of shoes that she’s had her eyes on for some time.confident the offer still will be honored. After all, she had to signDana follows her friend’s Facebook link to the shoe retailer’sup for the offer on the company Website, so she must be in theWebsite where she registers to receive the same offer. A coupondatabase — a phenomenon she has come to expect from all of hersoon arrives via email.favorite retailers.That weekend Dana also receives the shoe retailer’s print flyer,At checkout, however, Dana is shocked to learn that the cashierwhere she happily notices several other items she wants, as well asknows nothing of the promotion — “It must be an online-onlylanguage indicating she can redeem her emailed coupon for thosedeal,” he says. Worse, he cannot find a record of Dana in theitems as well.customer database.Once inside the store, however, Dana reopens the email onher smartphone only to discover it isn’t mobile-friendly.There are plenty ofother fish in the sea!naTo: Da % offer20g*Youradin*ErrorloTHE RESULT: A lost sale, a newly minted brand-hostilecustomer and wasted resources for an improperlyexecuted campaign.

III. Planning your own cross-channel programWhile the basic principles behind a cross-channel marketing program are consistently the same, each organization will have uniquerequirements that influence its design and implementation.Identifying your requirementsTearing down siloes AND corporate mindsetsAs noted in a recent Experian Marketing Services’ white paper, froman institutional perspective, the implementation of a cross-channelmarketing program represents wholesale, foundation-rattling5 change.Far from simply adding one or more new channels to an existingmarketing mix, a cross-channel marketing program fundamentallychanges the way an organization engages its customers.Given the scope of such an endeavor, it is not surprising that veteransof successful cross-channel marketing efforts point to C-suitestewardship among the first and most important requirements.Says Seifert, “Getting the CEO and CMO, the top-level people, totallyengaged and totally involved is really critical. It’s all about what theattitude of the company is from the top down.”Once the executive team is onboard, management ranks across theorganization must similarly sign on to the effort. Again, becausecross-channel marketing reinvents every part of the brand-customerrelationship, it is of the utmost importance that every department fullybe apprised, and support, the effort.Indeed, not only must old operating siloes be toppled, so too mustthe managerial mindsets that put them there. Marketing leaders stillwedded to traditional marketing methodologies and “favorite child”programs as the instruments of their success must be prepared toabandon such notions, along with the policies, processes, budgets,attribution models and platform vendors that support them.Email marketing, for example, may continue to be a performance rockstar, but physical and mental room must be made for complementarychannels that can, when integrated into a single unified platform, cutcosts, improve results and strengthen the brand.5 Building a strategic cross-channel roadmap., page 6, Experian Marketing Services.Have wemet?Who’s Dana?Buy this!YOUR BRANDSpecialsale!

Table of contentsCross-channel marketing is fast becoming a strategic necessity . that requires acoordinated effort among marketing, sales, service and IT executives.6– Booz & CompanyMarketing Sophistication CurveSMOnce the institutional commitment has been made, a logical nextstep is to determine the sophistication of your organization’s existingcross-channel efforts — a kind of “you are here” assessment relative towhere your marketing organization ultimately wants to be.6marketing projects with many of the world’s best-known brands andcouples those with an organization’s own unique needs to determinethe steps needed to establish a truly cross-channel optimizedmarketing program of its own.A powerful tool in this process is Experian Marketing Services’Marketing Sophistication CurveSM, an intuitive and straightforwardapplication that factors in years of successful, hands-on cross-channelTo learn where your brand lays on the Marketing Sophistication Curve,Experian Marketing Survey offers a free assessment here.Marketing Sophistication CurveSMCross-channel optimizationMultichannel marketingChannel optimizationChannel execution6 Multi-Channel Customer Management: Delighting Consumers, Driving Efficiency. Booz & Company. Nov. 6, 2009.What every brand should know about selecting a cross-channel marketing vendor 11

Customer mapping — aligning your business around the customerWith your enterprise fully committed and armed with the MarketingSophistication Curve, providing a solid assessment for where youare and what is needed, the next step in the process is to tailor yourbrand’s cross-channel requirements to your customers’ uniquebehaviors and needs.Begin by mapping your customer experiences by brandsegment. Develop personas for each brand as well as acustomer journey for those personas. Where are your existing customers looking for information? How do they engage with your brand? W hich channels are you currently using and which would youlike to add? How do your customers behave in those channels? H ow do you want them to behave, i.e., if you send them anemail that links them to the Website, what are the next stepsin that engagement path?Remember this is your opportunity to “blue sky” the possibilitiespreviously thought unrealistic or even impossible. If you’re buildingyour dream cross-channel marketing program, it’s easiest toincorporate it into the mix at the very beginning of the process.Do you want the means to capture, integrate and respond easilyin real-time to customer actions and motivations? How aboutpersonalized Web content based on visitor history? What aboutchannel-agnostic, real-time, triggered messaging? Why not createdynamic content rules that can be used in real-time across multiplechannels using integrated customer profile data?In short, your company must determine what it wants for and from itsexisting and future customers. Imagine ways that your company caninform and engage those customers and drive desired actions. Morethan simply engaging your customer, how might you actually delightthat customer and even exceed his/her expectations, every time? (Andby all means, ask for expert assistance in determining everything thatis possible in cross-channel marketing — more on this in the vendorselection portion of this document.)Data requirementsData is the cornerstone of any cross-channel marketing practice. It isthe informational wellspring from which the marketing organizationderives its understanding of its customers’ thoughts, behaviors andintent. If we think of data as the colors of a painter’s palette, then itgoes to reason that the greater the volume and variety of data availableto marketers, the more detailed their understanding of the customer.An obvious starting point in this process is to take inventory ofthe quantity, quality and variety of data currently collected by yourorganization. Consider also the kinds of data that could be used toform a more complete picture of your customers — not just existingcustomers, but the ideal marketing persona. (Remember, this isblue-sky time where, as marketers, you can look down the road atwhere you wish to be

The rationale for a cross-channel marketing program The means and methods for identifying the best vendor to help your organization execute a cross-channel marketing strategy of its own The path to implementing your own cross-channel marketing program The definition of a cross-channel marketing platform

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