A cou­ple of weeks ago, I wrote a byline arti­cle for DMNews​.com about the approach to take when plan­ning a multi-channel ana­lyt­ics ini­tia­tive.  I thought I’d share it here as well:

The num­ber of chan­nels avail­able to mar­keters for reach­ing their tar­get audi­ence has been grow­ing dra­mat­i­cally over the years.  It was not long ago when the only options mar­keters had were print, radio or tele­vi­sion.  Today of course, busi­nesses have a whole mul­ti­tude of chan­nels they can use to get their mes­sage across to cus­tomers; and on the flip side, cus­tomers also have a whole range of chan­nels with which to com­plete trans­ac­tions – and these aren’t nec­es­sar­ily the same ones.

Busi­nesses now real­ize that they need to employ mul­ti­ple chan­nels in order to effec­tively reach their tar­get audi­ence.  How­ever, merely hav­ing mul­ti­ple chan­nels does not trans­late into a true multi-channel strat­egy.  Busi­nesses need to avoid the costly and inef­fec­tive “every­thing to every­one” approach when putting together their chan­nels. They need to define a true multi-channel strat­egy where each chan­nel plays a core role and has a defined value propo­si­tion for the cus­tomer experience.

In order to do this, busi­nesses need to be able to under­stand cus­tomer behav­ior and pref­er­ences.  They need valu­able infor­ma­tion on the dif­fer­ent cus­tomer attrib­utes and how these affect pur­chase behav­ior, prod­uct attrib­utes, sales pat­terns and chan­nel pref­er­ences.  This under­stand­ing can no longer be achieved by look­ing at only one chan­nel – busi­nesses need to bring all this infor­ma­tion together from all the dif­fer­ent chan­nels in order to see the true big picture.

But be warned: bring­ing together all data from all chan­nels all at once is too ambi­tious a task and will likely result in fail­ure.  Busi­nesses should start with one eas­ily mea­sur­able chan­nel and aug­ment it with data from just one other chan­nel.  As tech­nolo­gies for web ana­lyt­ics have matured in the last few years, this is a log­i­cal place to start.  Most com­pa­nies with a web pres­ence should already be ana­lyz­ing cus­tomer behav­ior on the web.  The short term goal should be to aug­ment this analy­sis by adding data from one other chan­nel – for retail­ers, this would be in-store cus­tomer behav­ior and pur­chase pat­terns derived from POS sys­tems.  For other ver­ti­cals with heavy call cen­ter use, such as finan­cial ser­vices, travel or telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, analy­sis of call data merged with web data would pro­vide quick returns.

By fol­low­ing this approach and then later adding addi­tional chan­nels once the two-channel analy­sis has yielded ben­e­fits, busi­nesses are more likely to develop a suc­cess­ful multi-channel strat­egy to retain and grow its customer-base.

2 comments
Mary Rainer Stewart
Mary Rainer Stewart

Maybe the simple one step at a time approach will lead more businesses to be successful because it is manageable given their resources, but it is awfully slow. Adequate test design can allow those with the statistical skills to speed the process.

Digilytics
Digilytics

While I agree that data integration is key, more important is the cultural & political integration. For too long companies have been structured around channels, programs, media and each of those silos have budgets that they strive to protect. Organization design around the customer is key. Once that culture of 'customer centricity (very abused word) is set in, the systems, processes and behaviours will hopefully slowly change