Digital Marketing Insights
December 03, 2013 | Justin Williams
Here's an article I wrote for ClickZ:
By now, you know that consumers don't interact with just one marketing channel on their path to conversion. Chances are, your company understands it can't develop and deliver marketing on only one channel if it wants to remain competitive. But are you still using old-school, one-channel metrics (CTR, impressions) to measure success?
A cross-channel marketing approach requires cross-channel metrics. Read on to learn about two specific metrics and two measurement approaches that will give you a better perspective on your cross-channel marketing effectiveness.
The Match Rate (or Identification Rate)
If you're going to engage in retargeting using display, Facebook or other channels, a key measure of success is how many people you'll be able to reliably identify on those channels.
More generally, if you're leveraging multiple channels, you need to understand exactly how many people you can identify for targeted content.
One company recently developed a technology to identify three times as many people on its site and across various digital channels. This one change tripled their identification rate, increasing the audience of people that can be nurtured.
Of course, you still need to be good at marketing to those people that you cannot identify, and you'll never be able to identify everyone. But with identity comes information, which allows a marketer to be more relevant and therefore more likely to drive action.
The View-Through Rate
The view-through rate tells us how many people who've seen or engaged with an ad go on to participate in an important interaction, such as viewing a video or visiting a site. Many of the channels in a cross-channel campaign won't lend themselves to a direct click-through, so the view-through rate allows a marketer to better understand the contribution of these channels, helping to justify spend in channels that aren't seen as generating ROI as directly as other channels, such as email.
The view-through rate has it's own complications. It's not always clear what the value of a view-through is, and it's not always clear that the ad unit itself was seen. Still, tracking this metric will move a marketer beyond rigid focus on the last interaction to build a better picture of other channels' contributions.
Adopting a Multi-channel Attribution Approach
A cross-channel customer experience should necessitate multichannel attribution of success to your different campaigns. Why should the last click on an email get all the credit for a $60 sale when it was a PPC ad that caused the subscription, site interactions that built the interest and retargeted display ads that drove the purchaser to the point just before he bought? The goal of a multichannel attribution model is to spread attribution intelligently over all of the channels that contribute to a conversion.
Thankfully, most of the top analytics platforms offer some multichannel attribution reports for you to leverage. Before you begin implementing multichannel attribution, however, you should be aware of the technical and strategic challenges this entails (Avinash Kaushik's post does a great job of explaining some of these difficulties and how to approach them). But don't let the difficulty deter you! The multichannel attribution approach allows for a much more accurate understanding of how the entire marketing mix contributes to results.
Using Cohort Analysis
One-channel metrics provide precise insight into the performance of single interaction points, such as a click on a link or time spent on a page. The problem with these metrics is the lack of visibility before and after the target interaction. What else did the person see before they clicked the link? After purchasing, does the person purchase again, and how long does it take him to do so?
Cohort analysis, in contrast, allows a long-term comparison between groups, thus negating the focus on single interactions. In cohort analysis, an objective (ie.: an increased retention rate for a subscription product) is defined and then measured for different groups of people over time.
To do this, a group with a similarity is identified (ie.: joined the list on the week of November 17th) and considered against other groups (ie.: joined the list on the week of November 24th). After a certain period of time (ie.: 2 months), the groups' performances are compared. Cohorts can also be formed around other criteria, such as previous purchase history or engagement data.
In the image below, a service with a weekly subscription model is comparing retention rates of members who joined during different weeks. Why is there such a large drop in retention for the second cohort who joined on the week of 11/24/13 when compared to the other two cohorts? Such a report allows the marketer to review the marketing mixes of that cohort specifically to see if anything obvious stands out.
Retention rate of user cohorts based on join date.
Cohort analysis provides a broader view of how differences in experiences create different results. You lose the level of detail that one-channel metrics provide, but you gain that broader view that is essential to understanding cross-channel campaign contribution.
Leveraging the two metrics (match rate and view-through rate) and the two shifts in methodology (multi-channel attribution and cohort analysis) will enable marketers to achieve a higher level of insight into the specific contributions of each channel.
Posted by: Justin Williams at 12:00 AM
July 27, 2013 | Jai Williams
To learn how to steer clear of some of the common pitfalls that marketing teams fall prey to when initiating cross-channel strategies, check out this article that I recently published on MultiChannel Merchant:
Whether your company operates in the B2B or B2C sectors, you have to communicate with your audience when, where and how they want to be reached. Enter the concept of cross-channel marketing.
For the uninitiated, cross-channel marketing is the act of catering marketing messages to fit the functionality and customer usage preferences of each communications channel you are employing in a given campaign – in an integrated way that still provides customers with a unified brand experience.
As I will point out on the following paragraphs, there are many “killers” that can bring about the death of a cross-channel marketing effort at different stages in its development. I’ll show you how to avoid them.
CONFOUNDING YOUR MARKETING CONCEPTS
First and foremost, you need to be sure your team understands exactly what cross-channel marketing is and how it differs from other common marketing strategies. If you don’t, you’ll get lost in a quagmire of terminology misapplications that will confuse everyone involved. For example, not knowing the difference between a cross-channel and multi-channel marketing strategy can kill off a successful program before it even begins. The two concepts are commonly confused, but they are different in key ways that can significantly impact the effectiveness of your customer engagement efforts across channels.
At its core, multi-channel marketing involves hitting your target audience with the same message across multiple channels. While it is a step up from the single-channel marketing approach, it still ignores how your customers use and consume information across different channels.
By contrast, cross-channel marketing involves clearly understanding how your customers interact with your brand on each different channel and tailoring channel-specific messages. The end result is a coordinated campaign where different messages reinforce each other across different channels to achieve the same business objective. Much like real-time or right-time messaging, cross-channel marketing involves giving your audience the right message – at the right time – on the right channel.
So how can confusing these two approaches kill your marketing campaign? Consider this example.
Some associates of mine started a company based on a product that enabled consumers to better manage their daily deal purchases. Not only did it allow consumers to easily organize and sort them, it made it easy to dispose of them if they couldn’t be used. When they began to discuss how to market their product, naturally there were a lot of questions. Who is their target audience? How does their target audience currently get their daily deals? What communications channels do their target audience use on a day-to-day basis?
The answer to the last question was clear: email, mobile, social and display. They realized early on that building the marketing strategy around all of these channels was the key. They decided that they needed to develop a “multi-channel” marketing strategy, which then led to questions about what such a strategy involved and which tactics would make the most sense for each channel.
The conversation then led to other questions. Do we use the same marketing messages for each channel? What will be the impact of a multi-channel marketing strategy on our business and how do we measure that impact? What is the difference between a multi-channel and cross-channel strategy?
How can this “kill” a campaign?
When there is no clear, shared understanding of what cross-channel marketing means and involves (and how it differs from multi-channel marketing), marketers can waste a lot of time spinning their wheels arguing over terminology. If no shared understanding is reached, it can result in siloed, disjointed marketing efforts that alienate customers by bombarding them with the same message on every channel they interact with your brand.
How can you avoid this campaign killer?
When expanding your campaign beyond a single channel, make sure everyone on your team has a shared understanding of the fundamentals of a cross-channel strategy and how it differs from a multi-channel strategy. Remember, multi-channel means the same message across many different channels. Cross-channel means many different messages catered to each specific channel, delivered in a carefully coordinated manner.
Real World Example: Gucci’s 60th Anniversary of the Horsebit Loafer is a great example of how to successfully use email, mobile, social media and web channels together in a truly integrated cross-channel marketing campaign.
LACK OF TEAM CONSENSUS AND DIRECTION
Great business ideas often fail because not enough effort is placed into breaking down, line by line, each aspect of how the overall idea should work – and how it should be marketed.
From the moment a new business idea is initiated, you should schedule a “meeting of the minds” for a big pow-wow on what the business goals and objectives are and how each department can best work together to realize them.
Lack of a shared vision across relevant teams can lead to disjointed efforts that result in confusion and sub-par end products and results. The marketing team has to coordinate with the social team, the development team and the legal team – all need to be a part of the conversation.
How can this “kill” a campaign?
The absence of a clearly defined, clearly understood business strategy makes it almost impossible to develop a clearly defined, clearly understood cross-channel marketing strategy that all departments will buy into and help support. As a result, marketing efforts can quickly devolve into chaos.
How can you avoid this campaign killer?
Come to a consensus on what your company’s business objectives are, map out how your cross-channel marketing efforts will help achieve those business objectives, and share that information with departmental teams to gain buy-in before embarking on a new initiative.
Your marketing campaign goals should be outlined upfront. Examples are:
• Driving awareness
• Increasing leads
• Generating additional revenue
Any parties that have a vested interest in the initiative should have buy-in on the overall plan. This means making all parties aware of:
• Possible opportunities
• Any associated risks
• Giving the authority to provide final approval/sign-off before proceeding or moving forward
Real World Example: How to Build Your Digital Marketing Strategy provides an excellent outline of how to pull a marketing plan together.
Brand messaging across channels should have a consistent look and feel. The last thing any company wants to do is confuse their target customers by projecting a different brand message and customer experience on different channels.
Cross-channel marketing does involve customizing messages for each different channel, but they all need to clearly tie back to – and reinforce – the brand perception that a given company wants to instill in customers.
In addition to maintaining a consistent, look, feel and tone, your cross-channel messaging should be transparent enough so that it’s obvious to the recipient that the message is from your brand and not an unknown third party.
How can this “kill” a campaign?
Sending inconsistent and unfamiliar messages to consumers can lead to confusion and damage your brand recognition.
How can you avoid this campaign killer?
The first step is to develop a clear strategy for the overall brand messaging that spans all customer-facing channels – i.e. a brand messaging and style guide that all marketing communications are required to follow.
Here are four tips to help ensure messaging consistency across channels:
- • Coordinate messaging across all offline and online channels
- • Keep messages simple and clear
- • Communicate in a voice that is recognizable and relatable
- • Avoid confusing the audience with unfamiliar email sender names
INSUFFICIENT CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION
As media consumption becomes more and more personalized and sophisticated thanks to constantly improving technologies that allow inpiduals to customize how and when they receive information, marketers must increasingly cater to the demand for branded content and context.
Customers now expect to be able to define the delivery medium of their choice and engage with brands through highly personalized interactions. This requires sophisticated customer segmentation strategies based on a thorough understanding of customer preferences and consumption habits.
Failure to develop accurate customer segmentation can quickly kill a cross-channel strategy. Not all target customer segments use each communications channel in the same way.
A successful cross-channel marketing strategy takes this into account and develops distinct messaging campaigns for distinct customer segments to fit their distinct usage preferences.
How can this “kill” a campaign?
A failure to segment audiences based on communication and channel preferences can negatively affect engagement and brand loyalty among customers accustomed to engaging with other brands in highly personalized, customizable ways.
How can you avoid this campaign killer?
Understand your customer segments. Engage in regular and data-driven segmentation, and implement message development processes that allow you to effectively capture and act on your audiences’ identified behaviors and preferences.
Real World Example: The popular marketing video The Break Up cleverly demonstrates how one-size-fits-all marketing efforts fail from the consumer’s perspective. As stated in the video, customer expectations have changed. They expect individualized, interactive dialogues with brands now – not just blast emails or coupon mailings.
In summary, don't let your cross-channel marketing strategies fall victim to these common killers. Ensure that you and your team clearly understand what cross-channel marketing is and how it can benefit your company. Disseminate a shared vision of your business objectives across departments and clearly map out how your cross-channel marketing efforts will help achieve those objectives. Strengthen brand recognition and loyalty by establishing messaging and style consistency across all communication touch-points. Understand your customer segments and keep up with their changing channel and usage preferences.
So take a fresh look at your current cross-channel marketing programs, and don’t fall prey to these common campaign “killers.” Avoiding these pitfalls is the first step towards establishing a successful and effective cross-channel marketing strategy.
Posted by: Jai Williams at 7:51 AM
Categories: cross-channel marketing
May 23, 2013 | Jason Klein
January 04, 2013 | Jai Williams
Here's an article I wrote for iMedia Connection:
I recently went through the daunting task of consolidating my email addresses down from many to just one personal email account. Now, foolishly, when I started this effort -- yes, I'll admit it -- I was rather naïve about just how taxing it would be to just merely go through the motions of updating my credentials in multiple places. Mid-way through the effort, I found myself laughing out of annoyance, but the act didn't strike me as very funny. This got me to thinking: What other things could make email better as a channel?
If email were a physical entity and could selfishly ask for anything -- jotted down as a Christmas wish list -- what would that list contain?
A robust preference center
I'll try my best to speak in terms aside from my knowledge here. A preference center of any kind seems reasonable and basic enough, right? I've come across two types of these -- those that do the bare minimum and those that hit all the marks and set the bar high in terms of what a robust preference center should be doing. Marketing departments should make sure that any existing preference center effort is performing to its highest capability and running as efficiently as expected. So what if it takes more (from your technology department) to do more than just capture email addresses? Put forth more effort and try to hit on some or (dare I say it) all of the following:
- Communication type
- Creative samples
- Mobile offerings (SMS and cadence)
As marketers, we have to be cognizant of the old adage of "less is more." There is absolutely nothing wrong with sending less or dialing back a bit. We should be seizing the opportunity to make the most out of all of our communications -- not just sometimes, but every time.
Like many of you, I'm an active member of LinkedIn. Recently, my level of activity decreased in one of my many groups. The best communication that I received from LinkedIn was a message acknowledging the fact that my level of interactivity had decreased; thus, LinkedIn was taking the initiative to automatically downgrade my message cadence. It gave me the option to go back in and modify at a later date, should I so choose to do so. I thought this email was awesome. I'd never received anything like it before.
Progressive welcome series
I've said it before, and I'll reiterate again: People, audiences, and targets change over time. Because of this, they should all be communicated to differently. The welcome message within the lifecycle series truly serves many different purposes, some of which include but are by no means limited to:
- Onboarding new subscribers or members
- Educating the active
- Re-engaging the inactive
Done well or poorly, this type of messaging tends to be the one critical moment a brand has to establish or create a definitive brand identity with respective consumers, further solidifying its unique value proposition in the marketplace. Reevaluate your welcome messages. Are you only using one email message to communicate to new subscribers as they are entered into your database? How could you more intuitively communicate with your "new" subscribers after a certain number of days? The more effective welcome campaign efforts actively take a stake in constantly and consistently finding answers and solutions to these questions.
Effective cross-channel marketing
Granted, some brands are doing this better than others. That is partly due to a perceived consumer base with some. The flip side of this is a vested interest in measurable analytics with actionable takeaways. Mobile app Uber does this quite well, baking in a decent preference center and periodic email message offerings to consumers.
Another mobile app that I love, UrbanDaddy, is an example of a great pairing of email and mobile. It's beneficial to review your consumer base and do some level of analysis to see how best it warrants the effort. There's definitely room for cross-channel marketing in every vertical, but the effort has to go beyond following on social networks and lack-luster mobile applications.
As noted earlier, I went through an effort to consolidate my personal email accounts down from several to one. I actually do not know that email is there as a channel just yet. But I definitely see a channel offering in the near future moving in the direction of some of the first email account aggregators. Think for a moment how cool it would be to have the capability to manage your cadence and preferences from one location.
The email channel will obviously continue to grow, and we as marketers will increasingly see optimized efforts on building and sustaining reputation and relationships with consumers and subscribers. It's up to each of us to do what we can to drive programs forward and push the needle more favorably in the right direction.