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The integration of CRM with cross-channel marketing breeds agility

Leading enterprises searching for ways to bring agility to the market need look no further than cross-channel marketing.

Leading enterprises have been taking advantage of agile software development practices to rapidly iterate new software applications. This has been a key component of the success of companies like Facebook, Uber and Netflix. But it has been harder to make use of CRM data for agile marketing, thanks to shifting customer preferences, rapid growth of new marketing techniques, and the need to legally and ethically manage personally identifiable information, or PII.

Enterprises are now quickly navigating two major transitions around cross-channel marketing with the integration of technology stacks and increased sophistication of customer engagement, said Joe Stanhope, principal analyst at Forrester Research, at the Cheetah Digital Client Summit in Las Vegas.

Integrate advertising and marketing processes

Advertising and marketing technology stacks have evolved separately, owing to the different business processes used by marketing and advertising professionals. This has introduced lag in the ability for businesses to innovate new messaging and customize relationships with customers.

Markets are feeling demand from consumers and management to build high-performance marketing engagements.
Joe Stanhopeprincipal analyst, Forrester Research

Stanhope said, "From a requirements standpoint, bringing more of these channels and touch points together is becoming important. Markets are feeling demand from consumers and management to build high-performance marketing engagements. Part of that is creating these cross-channel marketing experiences, which means that operating everything in silos is less effective. In many ways, digital media is an acquisition tool, and a lot of the messaging and offline work is more of a customer marketing tool."

Move from customer journey to customer moments

The second major trend has been moving from broadcast marketing to customer journeys and moving toward moment marketing. This is the notion of creating a consistent and timely experience for customers across multiple channels such as email, text messages, mobile apps and in-store notifications.

Stanhope pointed out that Domino's Pizza now has 11 ways for customers to order a pizza across different channels. This has driven dramatic growth compared to competitors. But the process of ingesting, storing and activating data across multiple channels is difficult.

Digital media advertising sits at the top of the funnel in the modern customer acquisition processes. But Stanhope believes we are moving toward a world where all of the touch points are on a level playing field as part of the puzzle of customer engagement. He said, "To do that, you have to be able to get a view of every single interaction and every channel with a customer."

Forrester found that more than 80% of enterprises want their traditional marketing technology to support display advertising, and 50% agree or strongly agree they are planning to integrate marketing and advertising technologies. The two main goals are to create better experiences and reduce complexity in their technology and processes. Stanhope said, "There is a big drive from marketers to achieve that. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as flipping a switch and making it happen."

Address technology and process differences

One big challenge with this kind of integration is that data used to support digital advertising is different from customer marketing, offline marketing or email messaging. Stanhope said marketing tech vendors and enterprise marketing teams need to create points of intersection to move customer data across environments.

Onboarding vendors like LiveRamp and Neustar could play a role in taking offline customer information and translating these into audience segments for digital and cross-channel marketing. But Stanhope noted there are different kinds of data and the way enterprises use it is possibly different. There are also privacy and customer preference requirements that brands have to keep in mind. He said, "It has to be done very purposefully, and done correctly."

Activating CRM data

Highly customized messaging techniques have been validated by leading consumer-focused companies. As a result, larger enterprise vendors have begun acquiring some of the leading players such as ExactTarget by Salesforce, Silverpop by IBM, and Neolane by Adobe. Stanhope said he expects a major shift toward more integrated platforms to enable agile marketing strategies.

This involves more than just building out APIs, because precision cross-channel marketing involves unique challenges around managing preferences, legally leveraging PII and experimenting with new strategies. One approach may lie in moving from disparate tools toward a marketing-oriented back end that abstracts out custom logic and the back end from applications. This will allow enterprises to leverage specialized marketing tools from a wide range of third parties in a way that respects governance, risk management and compliance needs.

Stanhope explained, "It starts by bringing these channels and data together where you can mine it with a single customer profile. You start to understand more about your customers. You understand how they have interacted, where they have interacted and the behavioral information behind that. Not only will you be able to personalize and create more relevance for your customers, but also create a more consistent customer experience across these devices."

Solve problems, not checklists

If enterprises can track what they have shown customers and how they have interacted across every channel, they can create stronger consistency. They will also be able to do things like stronger frequency management or even ad suppressions. It's hard to enforce rules about how frequently a brand engages with customers if they are not able to track the entire customer experience through cross-channel marketing. Ad suppression could also help brands reduce ad spending on customers who are over saturated.

The wide range of new marketing technologies can be confusing and create problems for companies looking to improve their marketing strategies. Stanhope said, "Buying marketing technology has become very much like painting by numbers, [but this can lead to] buying [products] that don't solve a real business problem. We don't see a ton of vendors that are really rethinking more innovative ways to craft, deliver or use marketing technology. It tends to be a piling on of features, functions and categories."

Next Steps

CRM taps into customer preference

Adobe leans into consumer personalization

Data quality matters in cross-channel marketing

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