The Multichannel Revolution: New Media, New Approaches, New Opportunities

Whitepaper Spotlight, by ADMA.

This white paper, which was conducted through interviews with senior marketers and other industry leaders in the first half of 2011   – explores the changing dynamics that are defining the practice of multichannel retailing.

According to the paper, the challenges facing today’s diverse retail institutions echo the economic anxieties and changing media adoption patterns that have emerged across vertical markets. But these dynamics are also opening up pockets of new opportunities.

An interesting finding that the whitepaper made was that the once dismissed as a costly, outmoded channel for capturing direct orders – the printed catalogue – has re-emerged as a dynamic tool for generating leads across niche target audiences. On the innovation front, marketers are aggressively experimenting with tablet applications, mobile codes, deeper cross‐channel integration and expanded use of variable‐content output technologies as flagship opportunities for transformative success in the years ahead. The most innovative catalogue practitioners are pursuing expanded versioning, targeted messaging and special tactile elements designed to capture attention and provoke response through any channel. Many are reinventing the catalogue as a premium marketing tool, deploying high‐quality materials and creative content to connect with audiences who value such detail. And across retail categories, many multichannel marketers have seen success in leveraging the catalogue as a showcase for new, unique and high‐value products – inspiring customer attention and driving even more traffic to retail stores and the Internet.

The nature of “marketing data” has shifted, with the focus moving from traditional mailing lists to a diverse array of demographic, transactional and behavioural information gathered from a range of sources. “The problem is that many people still think about multichannel prospecting in the traditional sense. ‘There’s no prospecting list out there for digital!’ they say,” said Russ Gaitskill, President of the apparel brands division at Cornerstone Brands and President of NEMOA. “The truth is that digital has changed the structure of the whole conversation…. The question isn’t really about whether there’s enough data; they key really is gathering and interpreting that data”.

Foremost it’s obvious from the paper that among marketer priorities is the need to reconcile the gap between “offline” data and “digital” data. Data has emerged as the critical driver of integrated targeting and promotional merchandising across media. Many marketers are achieving results through data aggregation strategies that leverage multiple sources. Maximising results, though, requires comprehensive analytics programs that deploy audience segmentation and response modelling approaches that are custom to a brand or audience sector.

Complexity Driving Demand for Dynamic, Actionable Attribution Standards

If data is the fuel of personalisation, variable messaging, targeted offers and all the other tactical approaches that embody multichannel marketing, then what gauges are marketers using to understand their performance? How do they know what factors are ultimately driving the velocity of their marketing engine – and how can they determine what resources remain in the tank to propel future efforts? Panellists said that addressing those questions speak to the concrete need for marketing performance metrics that are attuned to multichannel execution. In particular, they noted the ongoing struggle that many face in establishing concrete attribution benchmarks, ultimately helping determine which promotions (and which channels) are responsible for driving specific response behaviour.

 Among larger mailers, diminishing returns are already coming from analytics programs,” said Epsilon’s Hinman. “A new question is ‘How do you use offline data in an online world – and vice versa?’ The truth is it’s easy to do on your own website, since you have an existing business relationship with that customer. But the trick is in external marketing, where you may have to bring together email, address and behavioural data”.

 New Media, Technology the Keys to Growth in the Years Ahead

Marketers have long recognised the shifts in media consumption that are redefining how customers absorb information and offers. But until recently, their efforts to on-board digital channels have been hampered by the shortcomings of technology, data and processes available to support true channel integration.

It’s clear from the whitepaper that marketers are nearly unanimous; the mobile channel, tablets, digital print and social media are all likely to play a role in the still‐unfolding multichannel marketing revolution.

 Managing the Brand – Across Audience, Media and Mission

 The overall consensus of the paper is unanimous: Data will be more plentiful, delivery channels more robust and consumers will become more adept at engaging in the marketing interaction, offering up valuable information – and taking the lead in seeking out the products they need. All in exchange for a buying experience that is more efficient, personal and direct. In short, the opportunities inherent in effective multichannel marketing are growing more substantial every day. But that potential has brought with it a singular challenge for marketers of both “traditional” and “digital” legacy: Migrate away from channel centric efforts to those focused on long‐term, customer‐conscious brand management.

This whitepaper was developed by the Brown Printing Company and Winterberry Group.

Head to ADMA Dialogue to read the full whitepaper.

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