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Preparing for message convergence

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What is message convergence? Message Systems, a provider of message management solutions, and the Relevancy Group, a provider of digital marketing consulting and research, answer this question in a white paper released at the end of last month, “Preparing for Message Convergence: Prescriptive Advice for the CMO and Senior Management.”

“The different types of real-time, multichannel marketing are fundamentally changing the way we communicate,” said Dave Lewis, CMO at Message Systems. “Conversations might be initiated in one [marketing] channel and move into other channels to complete a transaction. These behavioral changes are posing challenges to enterprises and the overall nature of communication.”

Message convergence is a marketing paradigm in which companies know their customers' preferences, needs and wants, and act on them so that those customers get the right message via the right marketing channel—the one that is “contextually relevant,” Lewis said.

Meanwhile, companies haven't changed the way they are marketing to their prospects and customers. Most continue to market via silos, said David Daniels, co-founder and CEO of Relevancy Group. This is a problem because when marketing is splintered off into small departments, communication isn't seamless and companies end up over- or undercommunicating. Companies, according to the white paper, must adhere to five guiding principles that can help them prepare and embrace message convergence.

The first—embrace the reality of the next generation of communication and commerce—may be one of the toughest because, Lewis said, a company might be terrific at mining its data but have difficulty doing it in real time and applying it to marketing activities on the fly. Daniels and Lewis believe that this can be best achieved by getting the C-level involved.

This leads to the second principle: Become a master of organizational change in reaching beyond silos. Again, the C-level may be involved here, reshaping and restructuring marketing, and issuing a companywide mandate that turns the customer experience into “the centerpiece of all that you do,” according to the white paper. “The stakes are now higher because of the end-user's expectations and [the fact that] that they now have an element of control that they didn't have before that can literally prevent you from staying connected with them,” Lewis said.

Once you've nailed these two points, it's time to ensure company readiness for message convergence, according to the white paper. In order to have data available in an instant, companies will need to meet the prerequisites for message convergence: the right data architecture, data assets and messaging infrastructure. “For example, data doesn't have to be all in the same pile, but it has to have unique identifiers so I know [this piece of data] is related to [this customer] wherever it resides in the enterprise,” Lewis said.

The paper goes on to detail two additional principles: Realign metrics and measures to effectuate change and achieve success; and revel in relevancy and pursue other "customer-aware' practices. “What's important here is how are you going to do individual communication?” Daniels said. “It's all about how you bring everything together.” To download a copy of the report, go to http://gurl.im/423cKa.

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