If you work in the digital marketing field chances are you've met someone with "mobile marketing" in their title. Not long ago there were no such roles, but today mobile plays such an important part in the marketing and fulfillment mixes for many businesses that one or more dedicated resources are necessary. It goes without saying that the same case could be made for those specializing in social media marketing.
As mobile and social media functions establish themselves, they join another, more mature digital channel: email. Unlike offline or analog marketing, digital channels present marketers a lot of flexibility around the frequency and timing of campaigns and other types of communication. When you consider as well that many consumers are often opted into multiple channels, there's the possibility that messages from different channels compete with one another for attention.
Imagine getting an email for one offer, a text message reminder for different one, and see yet a third unique offer posted to a Twitter account you follow - all from the same brand multiplied by however many digital relationships you're opted in to or follow. It all looks a bit chaotic and difficult to sort through, let alone act upon.
It is because of this that an alternative view of multi-channel marketing is emerging quickly - cross channel marketing. Cross channel marketing - whereby marketers execute campaigns across channels in consideration of consumer preferences and permissions - is emerging as a best practice as new solutions come online designed to tackle the challenge.
Recognizing the Problem
Explained to any digital marketer, the logic of cross channel resonates yet it's also acknowledged that the current state was unavoidable. The pace of innovation in digital marketing has been such that adding capabilities trumped more time consuming integration considerations.
If you're a digital marketer, you know first-hand how this played out. A lot of brand marketers quickly jumped to the conclusion they required an iPhone app or marketing leaders prioritized building a following on Twitter or Facebook because the competition had done so first. Another marketer may have tacked a text message call to action to the end of a promotional project as an afterthought. Services companies and point products for digital marketing have done admirable jobs creating urgency to move on almost anything "mobile" lest you permanently fall behind the curve.
Before disconnected efforts become too entrenched however, marketing leaders should recognize some challenging byproducts of marketing silos. First, separate people, products, databases and processes all pointed at driving desirous consumer behavior effectively compete with one another. The inefficiencies of such an environment should be also apparent.
Second, consumers are exposed to some 3,000 marketing messages every day from various sources and different channels (per Symphony/IRI research). A "message quagmire" drags down the performance of everyone's marketing efforts.
Thirdly, consumer adoption of smartphones increases daily and the devices are used for all manner of activities, at any time or place. In fact, you could say the mobile device is becoming the primary digital interface between consumers and business on a mass scale.
Inefficiencies in digital marketing efforts beget real redundancies in consumer touches, which in turn fight for attention with marketing messages from other sources. Response rates and campaign ROI suffer over time. Given expertise in how consumers use mobile devices, mobile marketers are uniquely positioned to steer their companies to better outcomes.
Mobile Marketers Take the Lead
With expertise in how consumers use mobile devices, mobile marketers have a chance to lead their companies in the right direction. Soon every business will need a "conductor" to orchestrate customer relationship strategies targeting the mobilized consumer. The mobile marketer could be that person.
Cross channel marketing is neither an abstract business school concept nor a rip and replace technology solution. It simply makes sense, but getting started requires a step-wise approach that begins to unwind siloed digital marketing efforts. Fortunately, there are a number of ways mobile marketers can demonstrate the value of cross channel marketing as a step toward broader adoption.
Start and end with customer Experience: Cross channel marketing creates better experiences for consumers by recognizing everyone has channel preferences and that different channels bring strengths and weaknesses to the task. Two examples of easy-to-implement cross channel approaches include leveraging the email subscription list to build the mobile subscriber base, and taking advantage of the reach of text messaging combined with the viral qualities of social media. Although easy to execute conceptually, these efforts require specialized software optimized for mobile interactions and that have value added ties to other channels.
Leverage the email list: Most companies have long established and large lists of opted in email subscribers. These customers deserve an opportunity to opt into mobile communications, offers and other calls to action. Adding a link in an email update that takes consumers to an opt in form is often all that's necessary, along with an incentive such as registering for mobile alerts, offers or finding the nearest location to make a purchase. This form should be tied directly to the mobile marketer's system to automatically build up the mobile opt-in list.
What's in it for the email team? Email communications are challenged by competition with other messages in jammed-up email in boxes, and a tie to mobile can alert subscribers to look out for a message. Later, the email and mobile teams can work together to develop higher response marketing campaigns that take advantage of the best attributes of each channel (email as visual/explanatory, mobile and text as timely, portable and universal).
Create a mobile/social campaign: Cross channel campaign management systems optimized for mobile interactions take advantage of the massive reach afforded by text message communications and the viral qualities of social media. Sweepstakes are a popular text message campaign-type that can be deployed to Twitter followers in such a way that contest posts may be forwarded or retweeted. In the process, followers broadcast the promotion to many consumers outside the marketer's social network, who may be influenced to follow the marketer's brand and also participate in the promotion. The mobile marketer creates a higher performing promotion while the social media team grows its base of followers.
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