Although in the eyes of the public the Christmas retail season just seems to get longer and longer, for retailers the big traffic and sales come in just eight weeks, so it’s critical to make the most of that.

As an online marketer you’ve probably got your email calendar sorted, the plan for adding new products to PPC is in place, affiliate banners are underway, and in these cost conscious times you’re probably feeling pleased that by getting affiliate and advertising banners done at the same time you’ve saved some cash.

The other benefit of getting all your banners done at once is (well should be!) that the overall campaign maintains the same look and feel across all online customer touch points.

So, excellent, well done you – the online channel is fully planned, it’s integrated with itself and the sales uplift from that last week of November free P&P promo is going to blow the socks off the Board. Best thing you’ve ever done.

But, what’s happening in the stores then? what’s being posted? (and yes, I do mean the old fashioned type of post with stamps and everything) What’s going on TV or radio?

Integrating marketing activity across all your channels

Think back a minute to why you’ve integrated all the online activity, it’s not really because it will look good, it’s because it will increase sales. You know that if the customers get a consistent message whenever they come across your brand online, then they’re more likely to buy – the sum of the individual channels is greater than their individual performance.

Surely this holds for matching offline and online activity too? Your customers don’t only experience you online, there’s a myriad of other ways they experience you. Even if they don’t shop in your stores they probably walk past them.

So it is financially advantageous for any e-commerce business to integrate it’s online and offline marketing because of both economies of scale in production and planning, and because it will increase overall customer spend.

Even if you’re purely online, you have offline touchpoints. Here’s a few to consider:

  • Parcel inserts.
  • Receipts and invoices.
  • Call centre.
  • Traditional media – TV, press and radio.
  • Catalogues.
  • Door drops.
  • Mailers. 

These same integrations will, as well as maximising sales, enhance your branding and improve customer experience, both factors which will increase long term customer value.

If you’re after proof of this several businesses have analysed the impact on Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) of the number of channels a consumer buys through.

The findings are always surprisingly similar, with all seeing an exponential increase as the number of channels increasing, and generally a 100% increase when a customer moves from one to two channels.

Internal PR and customer experience benefits

As well as integrating your marketing plan at the highest level, you should look at integrating all activity. This will make the whole company feel more like a team – again leading to better customer service, greater consistency in customer interactions, and overall a better bottom line.

For example, in a bricks and clicks environment, the e-commerce team is reliant on the stores driving customers to the website by:

  • Collecting email addresses.
  • Handing out flyers.
  • Displaying the website posters.

This can often leave store staff feeling like their customers are being taken from them. So integrating the marketing activity – something as simple as emailing customers with what’s happening at their local store can really help show the store teams how collecting an email address benefits the whole business.

Getting into sophisticated multichannel integration

Taking it to the next level of sophistication you can allocate all sales within x miles of each store to them, since this is the most effective way to motivate store staff to drive sales online as it directly helps them achieve their targets.

Finally, you can take the route of Argos and B&Q and allow customers to order online and pick up instore. They’ve both seen a huge number of customers using this option, and it extends their online Christmas sales period a few days closer to Christmas.

But in each instance you have to be careful of overlaps…. it’s fine to pay for the same sale twice, but it’s not fine to pay twice as much! For example, it’s ok if you pay for a click on Google Adwords and to send someone a catalogue so long as the combined marketing cost is worth it.

So with the promise of better allocation of marketing spend, happier staff, greater sales, more engaged customers, why wouldn’t you integrate?