The Future of Marketing Strategy

As marketers, we tend to be fragmented. Technology is grouped in silos, and strategy is frequently associated with a channel instead of a brand or company. However, given the new era of a hyper-connected and empowered public, marketers must embrace the changing landscape to understand the unique needs of consumers.

Consumers expect brands to engage them on the channels they use most—email, mobile, and social—and to provide relevant, timely information.

It is time to embrace the cross-channel approach. Period.

"Marketers still need to shift their traditional campaign management strategy around executing campaigns to a customer and move toward a digital marketing, two-way engagement approach that acts as a mutually beneficial decision journey involving customers' wants and needs," wrote Gartner's Adam Sarner in ExactTarget's A Marketer's Guide to Multichannel Campaign Management. "This evolving, customer-focused strategy harnesses digital techniques and channels that will increase engagement, response, and conversion rates."

ExactTarget's 2012 Channel Preference Survey found that 77 percent of consumers prefer to receive marketing messaging via email, and that more than 95 percent of consumers use email at least weekly, but that consumer usage across mobile and social is still growing. While these numbers continue to increase, sophisticated marketers must send compelling, targeted messages across all channels.

According to Gartner, mass marketing campaigns have a 2 percent response rate and are on the decline. However, by 2015, digital strategies, such as social marketing, will influence at least 80 percent of consumers' discretionary spending.

And that includes the mobility of the customer. According to ExactTarget's study, "by 2014, 6.7 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. Mobile marketing in the U.S. reached $877.2 million in 2010, up 138 percent from the $368 million spent in 2009."

This opens up a tremendous opportunity for companies to drive real business results using cross-channel interactive marketing.

In his report, Sarner breaks down digital marketing into four segments: addressable branding, contextual marketing, social marketing, and transactional marketing.

  • Addressable branding involves increasing brand awareness and promoting brands through different channels (for example, a banner ad leading to a landing page or a podcast).
  • Contextual marketing is a specific strategy that helps customers match their needs with a company's offerings, allowing the customer to evaluate a product or offering both before and after the purchase.
  • Social marketing uses the brand community to shorten product development cycles, or when there are customer service issues, to engage consumers and drive business results.
  • Transactional marketing uses strategy and tools to deliver relevant content based on past user behavior.

The four segments of digital marketing help us define the key strategies and tools needed to reach the customer in every part of the buying process. They also help drive an increase in buying based on remarketing and post-purchase data.

In order to stay ahead in the cross-channel environment, marketers must keep the following in mind when designing their cross-channel strategy:

One size fits all is no longer relevant. A one-size-fits-all approach to marketing communication is no longer relevant to a cross-channel marketing campaign. Marketers must define and provide meaningful messaging that speaks to consumers on the channels and technology they use.

Enhance the consumer experience. Effective marketing requires brands to engage customers based on their preferences in order to deliver distinct and memorable messages.

Evolve with the customer. As consumers' messaging habits evolve, so must marketers' ability to connect across all interactive channels.

Partner campaign management with digital marketing. Consider campaign management as a way to coordinate online and offline interactions.

Interruption marketing must adapt. In the world of social, interruption marketing is the number one reason people unlike or unfollow brands. Interruption is not designed for the individual or the brand advocate.

Content reigns supreme. When creating content for campaigns, keep the channel, customer data, and individual consumers in mind. Bad content has the potential of wreaking havoc on any marketing campaign, whether mobile or social.

It is up to us as marketers to build a community that drives interaction and helps define the selling point of our service or product. Our brand advocates are our best salespeople. They alone know what drives them to buy the product. Engaging consumers in the channels they use most is imperative to the success of any company for the next decade.

Kyle Lacy is principal of marketing rseearch and education at ExactTarget, where he leads an effort to build and distribute an ongoing research series that focuses on data collected through a combination of focus groups, experiential research, and online surveys. He is the author of three books, Twitter Marketing for Dummies (2009), Branding Yourself (2010), and Social CRM for Dummies (2012). Follow him on Twitter at @kyleplacy or visit his blog at KyleLacy.com


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