Channel Flipping

LIsa Vitale marketing GuruChannel flipping

Choosing marketing channels is increasingly like clicking the cable TV remote in hopes you’ll land on the best offering amongst a proliferation of choices.

The number of choices is only going to grow as buyers increasingly rely on multiple devices and more sources of information, and content providers deploy a growing number and variety of touch points. Determining the right mix of channels to nurture prospects is becoming increasingly complex.

As is evidenced by the following statistic, many marketers aren’t quite ready: “93% of Companies Are Ineffective at Cross-Channel Marketing [i]” was the startling headline offered up last year by Direct Marketing News in reporting a survey by Econsultancy. Just 49% of the nearly 1,000 digital marketing and ecommerce professionals polled “feel their company is set up to enable cross-channel integration even to a ‘certain extent.’”

I can virtually see the head-scratching by marketers focused on the B2C retail industry, where cross-channel marketing is a dominant topic. But B2B? Not so much, as many in that segment are still relatively narrowly focused.

Clearly B2B is a different animal than B2C, but it shouldn’t be that far behind the curve. An interesting matchup of strategic and tactical mindsets in those two universes can be found in Webmarketing 123’s 2015 State of Digital Marketing[ii] report. Some nuggets:

Channel FlippingB “Lead generation is the #1 B2B digital marketing objective for the fourth year running.” For B2C, it is driving sales.

The most used channels among B2B are email, used by 93%, and social by 87%; with B2C social media is tops at 87%, followed by email at 80%.

“Not sure” was the top vote getter of both B2B (32%) and B2C (25%) when asked to identify the channel with the most impact on sales. Among those who are sure, 31% of B2B says it was email while 25% of B2C tagged SEO.

Despite the uncertainties illustrated in that last point, the trend lines are clearly in the direction of more digital channels.

Regalix surveyed CXOs and senior marketing execs, with a majority in the B2B category, for its  State of B2B Marketing 2015[iii] report and found that “more than half (52%) said they plan to spend over 50% of their marketing budget toward digital this year, as compared to 36% last year.” The most effective channel in 2014, according to survey participants, was website, followed by email, SEO and social.

The big surprise, at least to me: “Mobile, whether as Mobile App, Mobile QR Code or Mobile Messaging, seems to have not delivered on its original promise, and over a third of marketers plan to decrease their spends on them this year. The only area that can expect an increase in spends in the mobile space is in the development of Mobile Websites.”

Are we shooting blindly? Don’t expect decisions to become easier as different types of touch points proliferate. As Jessica Groopman, a senior researcher at Altimeter Group, notes, “traditionally offline objects are now being brought online as connected ‘things’: new channels, platforms, or tracking mechanisms.[iv]” Are you ready to incorporate Beacons, wearables, even gesture recognition, into your forward looking cross-channel strategies?

Making the case that marketers must embrace data more than ever, she says, “Social data, loyalty data, transactional data, CRM data, demographic data, weather data, product data, and a long-tail list of other data sources are typically combined with the data streams of any given touch point to derive signal from noise.”

Analysis is key, no doubt. But insight is just as important. The Econsultancy survey referred to earlier found that “57% [of respondents] say that they don’t understand customer journeys, thus can’t adapt their marketing mix accordingly.”

One tried and true method of mapping that customer journey is through prospect surveys that leverage customized prospect databases and create marketing insights and content to nurture leads. Click here to learn more about how SimplyDIRECT’s customized surveys can be used to fuel a cross-channel campaign leveraging email, websites and create custom content.