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How do I choose a cross-channel marketing solution?

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Today's b-to-b marketers have an unprecedented selection of ways to reach target audiences. Whether through e-mail, a Web site, social networks, user groups or all of those in combination, marketers have access to more (and more effective) communications channels than ever before.

That's great news from an impact perspective. But without a way to manage across those media, the message won't succeed.

There are three major challenges standing in the way of successful cross-channel marketing:

  1. Lack of coordination: Marketing silos result in lack of coordination and duplicate efforts across departments.
  2. No single view of the customer: Lack of centralized customer data means there is not a single view of each customer and prospect across the department or organization, leading to duplicate and incorrect customer touches.
  3. Inability to measure results: Because data reside in a variety of information sources among different groups, it's often impossible to know how a marketing activity is directly impacting sales.
That complexity is even causing some marketers to abandon integrated marketing programs. That's the bad news. The good news? New cross-channel marketing tools and technologies are emerging to address these challenges, automating much of the tactical work so the marketer can focus on strategy.

So how do you pick a solution that's right for your needs? Consider the following capabilities when evaluating platforms:

  • A single repository for all customer and prospect data.
  • Tools to enable analysis and messaging across multiple channels—for example, e-mail, direct mail, telemarketing.
  • Customer segmentation to improve campaign results and deliver relevant messages and offers, both online and offline.
  • Automated and standardized marketing procedures so you can start using the solution immediately, along with the ability to add customized procedures as needed.
  • Integration from data import and cleansing through campaign management and reporting.
  • Automated ability to comply with privacy laws that helps ensure customer communication preferences are observed.
The goal should be to make fact-based decisions, target messages to specific channels, improve response rates by eliminating duplicate or inaccurate customer data and measure campaign effectiveness with comprehensive reporting and tracking.

Pat McParland is marketing leader at D&B (www.dnb.com/us).

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