By Michael Shanker, CEO & Director, Extraprise
In part two of our series we discussed how BtoB marketers are beginning to realize the value of customer intelligence and how it can provide actionable insight and optimize revenue, yet many continue to view the process as costly and complex.
Today, we will take this theme one step further and examine the roll of multichannel marketing. While not new, multichannel marketing’s genesis comes from integrated marketing communications, and its most recent evolution is from the vast number of possible customer interactions fueled by the Internet. What is new and evolving is driving multichannel marketing at the right time, in the right places, throughout the customer life cycle.
Right Time Multichannel Marketing focuses on the aggregation of customer behavior over time, and takes a very deep, analytical approach to customer interactions, based on behaviors and a multitude of market dynamics. The customer intelligence derived from these interactions guides an optimized revenue strategy that focuses on markets, accounts and buyers to spur specific buying behavior throughout the customer life cycle.
To create a roadmap for Right Time Multichannel Marketing, we’ll use the customer life cycle as the starting point, placing particular emphasis on lead generation, nurturing and qualification, and buying opportunities. We’ll also demonstrate how marketers can evolve their multichannel marketing programs to take advantage of optimizing revenue at the right time throughout the customer life cycle.
Zeroing In On The Customer Life Cycle
In developing a multichannel marketing strategy and executing campaigns, most marketers profess to be very customer-centric. But often that customer centricity is very linear. It views the customer typically in the context of new customer acquisition, and there usually is homogeneity about the interaction, i.e., disproportionate spend on one marketing channel or a lack of insight on how the customer wants to interact with the brand.
The only way to create and drive an effective multichannel marketing strategy is to build it from the outside in — through the customer life cycle, mapping the various stages to your customer buying behavior, channels, platforms, and data sources. By using the customer life cycle approach, marketing and sales are also able to create a far more effective, closed-loop sales and marketing system that ensures the two functions are aligned throughout the entire buying process (and beyond) while providing prospects and customers with the right offer at the right time.
Where To Start In The Customer Life Cycle
The most obvious place to begin multichannel marketing is with lead generation. This is especially true of marketing organizations that are totally driven by selling more products. At this juncture, marketing organizations often set up their outbound channels (i.e., email, events, and inbound channels, SEO, pay-per-click, and social media) to drive the most leads into the top of the sales funnel or to create buying opportunities in the case of BtoC. However, an initial mistake marketing organizations make in taking this approach is a failure to review their customer interaction history. This history, with the idea that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance, guides the marketing organization toward the right combination of channels to use in their multichannel marketing lead generation effort.
The lead nurturing and lead qualification stage of the customer life cycle is part of the continuum toward producing sales qualified leads to create buying opportunities. Again, customer interaction history is critical. While leads may be initially generated through email, events, or a variety of inbound channels, this stage may see more time spent on the web site downloading various forms of content, interactions in online groups looking for customer references, discussions with sales, or continued receipt of email campaigns with new offers. In this stage, since the type of interaction is different (i.e. a potential greater readiness to buy), so are the channels needed to reach and cultivate them. To bring these two elements together, marketers must carefully map their campaigns (i.e., channels, content, and offers to the stage).
Similarly, the buying stage also has room to leverage multichannel marketing. Although the prospect is generally engaged with sales in this stage, there is still opportunity to leverage marketing channels to support the sales effort.
For many marketing organizations, the next big challenge is to use customer interaction history in more sophisticated ways, as customer intelligence, to evolve to Right Time Multichannel Marketing.
Customer intelligence associated with buying behavior, traditionally viewed as a linchpin in BtoC, is of increasing importance to BtoB multichannel marketers. Many BtoB sales are complex and require taking different corporate roles into account, whether based on economic, user, or technical influence. These different buyers engage the BtoB brand across multiple channels including direct sales and customer service.
Right Time Multichannel Marketing
In moving to right time multichannel marketing, we’ve explored the need to base your roadmap through the customer life cycle, moving from lead generation to nurturing to buying opportunities, while also leveraging buying behavior. To fully optimize revenue and gain a competitive advantage, marketing organizations must take a step back and fully understand the customer lifecycle in their market. It’s then important to treat multichannel marketing as a journey, where the use of customer interaction history leads to more sophisticated forms of customer intelligence. Only then can marketers achieve Right Time Multichannel Marketing and revenue optimization.
Michael Shanker is CEO and Director of Extraprise, a leader in right time revenue optimization for BtoB and BtoC enterprises, providing database marketing and demand generation services. For more information, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.extraprise.com, or call +1(888)i2iMKTG.