Multichannel Marketing Initiatives in the Context of the Campaign Trail

Now that all the ballots have been counted, it's time for the political machines to review their steps along the campaign trail to figure out where their efforts truly paid off and where they decidedly missed the mark. Viewed from a retail marketing perspective, Election Day (the moment of political purchase) is the pinnacle of the buying journey (campaign season)—where the successful brand (candidate) has wooed enough customers (voters) to win the day. It's not unlike the coming holiday shopping season, where retailers have until late December to convince a preponderance of customers to vote with their wallets and cast ballots for their brands.

During the 2014 holiday season, eMarketer estimates that e-commerce will account for more than $72.4 billion in sales in the United States, less than 10 percent of all retail sales—meaning somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 billion in sales will still occur in brick-and-mortar stores. Republican Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, of Illinois, who served in the House of Representatives in the 1930s and 1940s and the Senate in the 1950s and 1960s, is widely credited with having said, "A billion here; a billion there—pretty soon you're talking about real money." If you represent a brand that wants some of that real money, you need to tune your get-out-the-vote strategy now to win the hearts and wallets of your customers.

So what lessons can the recent election season offer to retail marketers? 

1. Just as political strategists need to know their constituents, retail marketers need to know their customers. Make sure you have the ability to capture, match, and consolidate data from multiple channels and disparate systems.

  • All customer interaction data must be cleaned, managed, and available in one integrated platform.
  • Quick access to tightly integrated customer data is necessary so you can easily plan a compelling message path for your customer's life cycle with your brand.
  • Equal emphasis must be placed on the ability to react to the precise buying experience for each customer and creating the right context as your customer invariably chooses his own path of investigation.

2. Whether you're running a political campaign or a retail campaign, it's important to utilize a robust data mart. You'll need the following two elements:

  • Flexibility to handle dozens of consolidated data sources, outbound and inbound channels, and millions of customers in a consolidated and highly secure contact database.
  • A historical repository to remember the past, and learn from it through analytics.

3. Delivering consistent messaging across platforms is paramount. Create a coordinated omnichannel messaging distribution system and don't allow your teams and/or platforms to be siloed.

  • Tightly integrated interactive data and intelligence built into the campaign management process ensures you engage customers and deliver what they want, when they want it, wherever they are.
  • Dedicate plenty of time to developing your content, and make sure that it is optimized by device. Holiday shoppers on the move won't give you the 15 seconds that your heavy mobile product page needs to load on a 3G network.

Employ a campaign tool that is agile and allows for optimization of all channels. The best campaigns—retail or political—assimilate and react quickly to new information. These campaigns must allow for the following:

  • Real-time, personalized customer segmentation
  • A progressive flow of consumer activity throughout the journey that reacts in real time to consumer behavior
  • Modification based on live information with more confidence and less chance of error

4. Engage in smart social listening: Successful brands, like successful candidates, know (and are willing to go) where the conversations are happening. They also know the difference between being helpful and being a pest.

  • Real-time listening lets you design and deliver offers to customers that are timely and effective.
  • Listen for triggers across multiple channels.
  • Ensure communication is valuable. Like an endless array of bad political ads, consumers don't want to be inundated with 10 automated, iBeacon text messages just for stepping inside of your store. Smart listening means that outreach is based on an understanding of your customer's needs and not your desire to promote yourself simply because you can.

And here's one more tip: Even though Election Day has come and gone, the campaign is never really over. Successful marketers understand that the buying journey extends beyond the sale, and some of the best opportunities to build brand loyalty extend from interaction with the customer after the purchase is complete.

Mike Shanker is the CEO and cofounder of QuickPivot, which specializes in real-time cross-channel marketing automation solutions and services for B2B and B2C enterprises.

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