Cross-Channel Marketers Want Insights Into Customer Interactions, Tech To Do It

Understanding customer interactions across channels is a leading challenge for cross-channel marketers, details a [download page] study conducted by Forrester and commissioned by ExactTarget. A total of 43% of respondents named this a top-3 challenge, including 8% rating it as their top challenge. Another big obstacle: Managing campaign execution across multiple marketing technologies, chosen by 45% as a top-3 challenge.

Among the areas identified, the least challenging to respondents appear to be organizing to allow for cooperation (17%), responding to customers in real time (also 17%), and automating repetitive marketing processes (14%).

Technology, Lack Of Staff Are Key Shortfalls

Data from “The Key To Successful Cross-Channel Marketing” reveals that fully 75% of respondents believe they are prepared for cross-channel marketing – despite impediments in technology and staffing.

Asked where their current marketing technologies fall short, 51% of respondents named cross-channel analytics (models based on cross-channel data to improve program performance or predict outcomes). Second was technology for measurement (44%) of key performance indicators across channels. The remainder in descending order were a unified customer view (which speaks directly to the challenge of understanding customer interactions); reporting access and flexibility; marketing automation; real-time optimization; and cross-channel integration.

Technology is not entirely to blame – there are organizational hindrances, too. Presented with a list of 7 organizational issues that affect cross-channel communications, 49% agreed that a lack of staff was a factor, and 42% pointed to a lack of technical expertise in house. 37% believe that staff is structured into separate groups with no visibility into each other’s programs, and 24% that managers of various marketing programs don’t collaborate well.

Absent from the list of organizational challenges: Lack of a clearly defined strategy. In a June 2012 Econsultancy report, companies listed a clearly defined strategy as the most important factor enabling effective cross-channel marketing. The lack of such a strategy was considered the top barrier. But otherwise, the Econsultancy and Forrester findings generally agreed, as companies cited the need for joined-up organizational structure and joined-up technology and systems.

Efficiency, ROI The Most Expected Benefits

Whatever their challenges, respondents to the Forrester survey have high expectations from cross-channel marketing. When asked to select the three most important benefits they expect, most (71%) named more efficient marketing operations, with 26% rating it the top benefit. Next in line, better return on investment (ROI) from marketing campaigns (64%), then improved customer relationships (54%).

Other findings:

  • 78% of respondents believe cross-channel marketing is important or very important.
  • 44% power cross-channel campaigns through individual teams focused on individual marketing channels, such as email, mobile, social media and the Web.

About The Data: Forrester interviewed 211 cross-channel marketing professionals at companies with $100 million or more in annual revenue. Questions provided to the participants asked how they currently manage cross-channel marketing and asked them to identify challenges in execution. The study began in June 2012 and was completed in July 2012.