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Digital Marketing Means Multiple Channels
Universal profile management directs all relevant communications through the channels that customers prefer.
Posted Oct 11, 2010
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Meet Heidi — a woman in her early 30s who enjoys yoga. Heidi has a busy life and is married with two kids, and yet she always makes time for yoga. She's also a savvy customer, and likes to stay up on the latest and greatest yoga products. She regularly googles "yoga mats" to find out about new offers, she gets email newsletters from her favorite yoga apparel store (which she visits online weekly), and she receives text-message alerts when the store posts new yoga videos. Heidi is a customer who uses multiple communications channels to interact with a company she frequents — and trusts.

Heidi seems like the ideal customer. Unfortunately, most marketing organizations see her not as one desirable customer, but as three different and wholly separate people — one for each means of contact. The real Heidi — the integrated ideal-customer Heidi — doesn't register on the marketing radar screen. The existence of Heidi, and of multichannel customers like her, is exactly why marketers must move toward a complete view of the customer.

The success of that move, however, hinges on forethought and planning. Communications through multiple channels, for example, can and should be run out of the same software platform, to best facilitate a direct digital-marketing strategy. For ideal results, the software must have a universal profile management (UPM) system inherent to its construction.

A UPM system is based on a basic concept: All data that can be used for relevant communications with a customer should be stored in one place, preferably the same software platform that delivers the email, Web content, and mobile messages. The system is able not only to store known customer information — such as enterprise customer data, past-purchase history, and preferences — but also to capture online behavioral data with a tracking snippet.

The behavioral data set comprises any Web site, email, or mobile-content interaction; keyword searches; or participation in online-advertising campaigns. All of this data comes together in one UPM system to create a single view of an individual customer. Rather than sending different messages to "mobile Heidi" and "email Heidi" and "Web Heidi," UPM enables the transmission of multiple messages to a single Heidi — or, to be more precise, complementary versions of a single message communicated through each channel to move Heidi along the sales funnel until she converts.

Customers expect to be treated as individuals, and direct digital marketing — powered by a UPM system — enables marketers to finally align their efforts with the ways customers wish to communicate.

While the ultimate goal of most marketing efforts is to increase sales, having all customer data centralized in a UPM system helps a company realize when trying to sell a customer on a new product or service is the wrong move.

As an example, imagine Heidi's favorite online store for yoga clothes makes an obvious mistake: The store fails to ship her order on time, and Heidi complains first by filling out a form on the company's Web site, then by calling the customer-support number. Unfortunately, during the call she's bounced around to several departments — none of which has access to the complaint she filed online. She speaks with several representatives — each of whom tries to sell her on a new product at the very moment she is least receptive, when the company has just failed in its service to her.

When a company is communicating with a customer, whether via marketing or customer service, messages must be coordinated between channels to reflect a single perspective of an individual customer. A dissatisfied Heidi is an example of a once-loyal customer turned off by the mismanagement of the customer relationship.

The multichannel requirements only intensify with the typical high-spending, high-value customer. That VIP customer, who has a sophisticated relationship with the company, does not want to receive — and, in fact, expects to be spared from — any introductory messages in any channel: in her email inbox, on the Web site, or via her mobile phone.

In either case, however — whether the customer resembles an occasional, Heidi-like shopper or represents a high-value relationship — marketers must be as sensitive to coordinating relevant messages across multiple channels as the customer is to receiving them.

To be effective in both online marketing and the management of customer relationships, a company must know whom it's talking with — not "talking to," by the way — and how to coordinate communications across the primary channels preferred by the modern customer. Direct digital marketing, when powered by a UPM system, facilitates extreme efficiencies at both crucial disciplines while boosting sales and helping to form long-lasting relationships with increasingly loyal customers.

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About the Author
Brian Deagan (bdeagan@knotice.com) is cofounder and chief executive officer of Knotice, a direct digital marketing solutions company. For more information, visit either the company's main site (http://www.knotice.com) or the corporate blog (http://lunchpail.knotice.com).

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Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors

You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" below.

If you would like to submit a Viewpoint for consideration on a topic related to customer relationship management, please email viewpoints@destinationCRM.com.

For the rest of the October 2010 issue of CRM magazine, please click here.

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