Even during the days before the Internet, marketers needed to track their efforts to determine how to best spend their money. Perhaps they added a "suite number" to their mailing address that identified the specific ad that had enticed the customer to make a purchase. When placing an order by phone, the company's representative might have asked where the customer learned about the product. A television ad might have included a special offer code that the customer had to provide to get a discount. There were (and are) many different methods available to give marketers insights into which channels were providing the best return on investment.
In other words, cross-channel analytics is not really a brand-new concept. It has been called by a lot of different names, but the basic goal has always been to help plan future efforts.
Things began to get more complicated with the arrival of the Internet, mobile devices, in-store kiosks and other new technology. Now you are interacting with your customers on many different channels. You might manage a company Facebook page and a website, send email campaigns, transmit virtual coupons to customers' smartphones, advertise on television and radio, mail out flyers, employ iBeacons in your retail locations and insert ads in local newspapers. To complicate matters, your customers might receive your message on one channel and make a purchase on another, such as seeing a print ad before going online to buy your product.
You might think that you have all of the analytics you need. You have web analytics that let you track the amount of time visitors spend on your page, leads generated, conversion rates and page-loading time as well as a number of other items that are related to your website. What you are overlooking is that you are not a webmaster — you are a marketer. You need marketing analytics. Furthermore, you need cross-channel marketing analytics.
Cross-Channel Marketing Analytics
If you want to optimize your return on your marketing investment, you need to know how every channel affects the behaviors of your customers. Did the email campaign generate more responses than the text campaign? Which banner ads resulted in the most click-throughs, and which click-throughs resulted in the highest number of conversions? Did the customer contact a representative by phone or visit your physical location prior to making an online purchase? These are just some of the questions you need to answer if you want to make future efforts provide the greatest value for the money.
Perhaps you feel a bit like John Wannamaker, founder of Wannamaker's and a 19th century advocate of the power of marketing. He reportedly stated that he knew that half of the money he spent on marketing was wasted, but that the problem was that he could not identify which half. (He probably would have been delighted to have access to half of the analytics tools currently available to marketers.) You know that not all of your efforts are providing equivalent returns, but you are not sure which ones are performing dismally and which are far outpacing your projections.
Cross-channel analytics let you break information into its smallest components. You have data collected from many different channels that you could be using to help you gain insights into customer behavior. You can learn what actions your customers prefer to take on their desktops, for example, and which actions are typically initiated from a smartphone. The insights you gain can help you tailor both general and personalized campaigns.
Key Benefits of Cross-Channel Marketing Analytics
Although you can receive a number of benefits from using cross-channel analytics, there are three that are especially worthy of your consideration.
- Latency Patterns: Customers often take a convoluted route between initial contact and purchase. Cross-channel analytics can help you understand their route and measure the actual latency pattern. These insights can help you adjust your efforts to increase their effectiveness during the later periods as well as at the beginning.
- Channel Combinations: Sometimes, the right combination of channels can result in significant returns, while a different combination might be a disappointment. In other words, spending an equal amount of money on Channels A and B, Channels B and C and Channels A and C will not necessarily provide equal returns. Knowing which channel combinations provide the best results allows you to allocate more to those combinations.
- Funnel Marketing: Cross-channel marketing can help you identify the different funnel stages and adjust your message at each stage. You might find that increasing your late-funnel efforts result in more conversions, or you might decide that you need to focus more on the early stages.
In the modern world, you cannot afford to ignore the opportunities offered by cross-channel marketing. However, to optimize your efforts, you really need to embrace cross-channel analytics. The insights you gain can be invaluable to your overall success.