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The Modern Marketing Blog covers the latest in marketing strategy, technology, and innovation.

6 Cross-Channel Marketing Obstacles and How to Overcome Them

Sylvia Jensen
Sr. Director of EMEA Marketing

Cross-channel marketing is a big win for B2B marketers—and winning is always sweeter when you’ve overcome obstacles. Here are some of them.

Most marketers would agree the mediasphere has shattered into a million splinters—along with our audiences’ attention. So nobody needs convincing of the need to market across multiple channels.

A new piece of research, the Cross-Channel Marketing Report 2015 by Oracle Marketing Cloud and Econsultancy, states, "consumers have become less tolerant of brands that fail to provide a contextualised, personal experience."

But a surprising number of marketers marketing in multiple channels aren’t really doing cross-channel marketing.

How so?

It’s because CCM isn’t just about messaging. It’s about connecting your messaging into a single conversation—whatever the medium—so the customer experiences you as a coherent whole.

At least six big obstacles stand in the way. This blog outlines all six—and what you can do to leap over them. To add a fun factor to this serious business, each one’s illustrated with the perfect quote.

1. From Teams of Experts to Experts in Teams: The Cross-functional Hurdle

The notes, I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes—ah, that is where the art resides!

-Artur Schnabel, concert pianist

You’ve got a great social media guy. A fantastic web creative team. A brilliant campaign strategist. But when those strengths are rewarded more on functional specialism than integrated outcomes, you’re hitting the right notes without the right connecting pauses.

A lack of a clearly defined strategy (21%) and lack of resources (20%) were the main reasons cited for the failure to deliver well-orchestrated cross-channel interactions.

To connect those right notes into a harmonious whole, turn to your metrics. The right measures and KPIs can nudge people into orchestrated perfection. So instead of looking at pages clicked or executions produced, start looking at cross-media metrics like what proportion of Tweet clicks segued into a phone call or what percentage of mobile visits led to a newsletter sign-up. To join up skill sets, look in the gaps between the noise.

2. Going the Distance: An Understanding of the Customer Journey

Life’s a marathon, not a sprint.

-Philip C McGraw, motivational coach

It’s easy to see marketing as a series of one-off events—this campaign, that microsite, those open days. In reality, the journey from cold name to repeat customer is a journey. And to keep your future customer on the right path means understanding that he or she has options at every waypoint.

One-fifth of respondents (21%) said understanding the customer journey was the most important factor for effective cross-channel orchestration.

To climb this barrier, look at your people’s broader understanding of their audience. Does that email expert know her 2% response includes another 3% who didn’t click, but phoned instead? Does your demand gen guy know he’s driving an extra four sales a month for the sales team? Do your customer service agents know a successful call is reducing churn from 10% to 5%? Share the successes—and the potential successes—by helping them see the whole customer journey, from starting gun to finish line.

3. Passing the Batons: Critiquing Your Company Structure

Successful innovation is not a single breakthrough. It is not a sprint. It is not an event for the solo runner. Successful innovation is a team sport, it's a relay race.

-Nguyen Quyen, Vietnam activist

Larger companies operate in silos for a reason: it makes things easy to manage and creates clear hierarchies. But your org chart is not a map of customer needs; it’s an accounting and finance support structure. According to the report, a huge majority of companies already realise this.

Only 5% of companies thought they were ‘very much’ set up for cross-channel marketing...down from 7% in 2014.

How can you turn this around without great upheavals? As a first step, try looking at the information that flows between departments and teams. Once teams see insights into their work from other sources, they can be surprisingly fast to make use of them. Before doing a big re-org, see if your people can restructure from within.

4. Racing in the Dark: Finding a Clearly Defined Strategy

With one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.

-Albert Einstein

This was the big one—and it’s rising.

Between 2014 and 2015, the number of companies seeing a clearly-defined strategy as key to CCM increased by around one-third, from 22% to 29%.

If you’re groaning, that’s understandable—we all attend too many "strategy meetings" already. So one attack plan for overcoming this next obstacle might be old Albert’s define the problem first.

Can you demonstrate how much customer equity you’re leaving on the table by not having a CCM strategy? Is there a financial case for joining two teams or changing direction? If you can put numbers on the value of a change, the whole C-suite will listen.

5. Running on Empty: Dealing with Scarce Resources

Most worthwhile achievements are the result of many little things done in a single direction.

-Nido Qubein, author and speaker

Resources, resources, resources. Our penultimate obstacle isn’t all the problems ahead on the track: it’s all the other people competing with you for what they need.

20% of report respondents stated lack of resources prevented them doing CCM effectively.

So in this race against your peers—in reality, your colleagues and friends—how can you make better use of resources available? Here’s an innovative solution: instead of trying to win more of them, check their alignment. Are two goals in different departments each providing results for their respective teams—but in doing so, pulling in different directions from the customer’s perspective?

(One example might be handoffs in service calls: sometimes, there’s a perverse incentive to bounce a customer around departments, if your metrics drive people to lower call-handling times.)

Instead of individual competition, think of cross-channel marketing as a team sport!

6. Getting the Gear Right: Handling Technology Limitations

It's not technology that limits us. We're the limitation. We can't fundamentally advance technology until we fundamentally advance ourselves.

-Christian Cantrell, sci-fi author

Lastly, one-tenth of people saw technology as dragging them down—a surprising percentage for a tech-literate bunch. So what can help scale this final hurdle?

It’s among the simplest of solutions; open your eyes. Today’s marketing automation solutions join together existing practices and databases in some startlingly creative ways, given a little imagination. One way to do this is to look at marketing technology challenges from the customer viewpoint rather than any one department’s and think: what will this investment contribute to customer equity? How does this software connect gaps on the customer journey? What parts of the customer experience are we not serving, but should be?

It’s questions like these that will help you complete the obstacle course of cross-channel marketing—think of the tips above as your training session. And if you’d like to explore them in more depth, why not race to your copy of the full report?

Takeaways

  • Most companies face six big obstacles on the way to cross-channel marketing.
  • Only 5% of companies believe their cross-channel marketing strategy is delivering at the max.
  • Improving your cross-channel marketing may not need great resources or reorganization.

For the inside track on cross-channel marketing, get the Econsultancy Cross-Channel Marketing Report 2015 here.

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