The past decade has brought with it a massive increase in digital marketing platforms and technologies, giving marketers the ability to focus on multichannel like never before.

This has fundamentally altered the way brands plan and execute marketing strategies and given us new insight into how customers are using those channels. 

A new report from Econsultancy and dotmailer, The Reality of Multichannel Marketing, looks at how various channels interact to make an efficient, effective whole and further examines how companies can keep control of their campaigns while gathering and analysing data to inform the next step.

We did this by interviewing senior marketing and ecommerce professionals across a range of sectors, where they were asked about their concept of multichannel marketing and the maturity of multichannel marketing within their organisations, plus any challenges, opportunities and best practices.

Here are three key insights from the report...

Business needs dictate multichannel efforts

Marketing and sales activity is still largely dictated by business need, according to the executives interviewed for the report. The product or service and/or dominant customer segment profile go a long way to determining priorities when it comes to multichannel strategy.

The programme head of multichannel at Evans Cycles, Will Lockie, outlined the impact of product type on multichannel strategy, where insights from customer behaviour data implied that click and collect was both a customer service and convenience measure.

Lockie expands on the definition of multichannel by stressing that a company should interact with the customer in a way that is appropriate to its bottom line.

If cost reduction is a goal then click-and-collect can offer retailers reduced cost of sale by shifting customers away from home delivery and associated courier costs, towards using the retailer’s existing infrastructure and supply chain to deliver orders to stores.

Evans Cycles has seen significant reductions in cost of sale from this channel shift, ultimately driving bottom-line growth.

Email is at the heart of multichannel

In the past, email was often considered to be less interactive than other channels, unable to engage visually like display or emotionally like social, but it is now re-emerging as a driver for a wide range of online and offline brand engagement activities.

The email channel has become essential within multichannel campaigns as the emergence of smartphones has meant that email opens on mobile have exceeded those on desktop.

As a result, emails that are fully optimised for mobile can create an enormous impact.

Research from eBay suggests that the consumer will use an average of three to five platforms when considering a purchase and each move between them creates the potential for a lost sale.

Using email, whether triggered through registration, a dropped basket, a behavioural or anniversary-related input, helps draw the consumer back into the consideration process and moves them forward on their journey.  

Paid search is key for acquisition

While mobile, social and personalisation attract much attention, PPC is still demonstrating its worth for the majority of businesses. A study by Shop.org found that 46% of marketing budgets were dedicated to paid search.

Easily measurable and highly segmentable by location of consumer or bricks and mortar store, PPC is able to engage in deep targeting to deliver a high degree of relevance to a customer in the discovery stage. In Q1 2014, search began 44% of all US ecommerce transactions.

Paid search can be more sophisticated than merely a ‘one way’ journey to a website, with remarketing for search allowing businesses to target users that have already visited their websites.

PPC is also a key tool in feeding back customer journey information to the business allowing it to adjust many variables within the multichannel mix.

For much more insight, please download the full report: The Reality of Multichannel Marketing

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 21 January, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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