April 21, 2008

Multichannel Advertising Results: Take Charge

A key reason for writing about a typical multichannel results meeting is to help us think about the role of a true multichannel leader.

True multichannel leaders are sorely missing these days. Quick, name one person you've worked with who you would call a true multichannel marketing leader, a person who tells a compelling story, who gets things done across business units, a person who works with honesty and integrity, a person who is on the side of the customer, a person who drives sales and profit increases.

I'm waiting.

There are leaders out there. I'll bet you could name a half-dozen colleagues who are brilliant e-mail marketers, or web analytics geniuses, or catalog marketing mavens, or are a whiz at paid search, or know SAS, Business Objects, or MicroStrategy inside-out, or are masters at newspaper advertising, radio advertising, or television advertising. There are brilliant data miners, who finds nuggets of information buried in a data warehouse of 129,931 active customers.

In the next five years, somebody is going to step out of one of these disciplines and take charge. I've dedicated a book and 760 blog posts on the topic. More than a thousand people read each post. So it is clear there is a need for somebody to put all of this stuff together, at a level that is more detailed than "multichannel customers are the best customers" or "ten steps to integrate multichannel marketing campaigns" or "align inventory and pricing and creative across channels". There is a clear need for multichannel leadership.

Why don't you start by taking responsibility for compiling results across disciplines? Once the results are compiled, why don't you tell a compelling story about the findings?

Look at the table below, comparing catalog and e-mail test results this year, vs. last year.

Remember that in the prior post, catalog marketing performed worse than last year, drawing negative comments from the CMO. Test results show that phone demand decreased, but the catalog drove online and store volume at greater levels than in 2007. E-Mail marketing also drove sales increases. Even though performance at retail was way down, vs. last year, catalog and e-mail marketing (as demonstrated by test and holdout results) both drove profit increases vs. last year. Both were effective!!!

Keep taking initiative. Implement matched market tests for radio and newspaper advertising. Compare the results in the same way that are illustrated above for catalog and e-mail marketing.

Now talk to the online marketers, the paid search gurus. Get the catalog marketers and paid search gurus to work together to demonstrate how customers utilized marketing tactics in combination.

Now get key statistics from your web analytics team. And challenge your web analytics team to go beyond simplistic traffic and landing page and shopping cart and conversion rate metrics. Demand that they tell you who was acting in a positive way, across the entire sale event (not just within visits).

Next, talk to the SAS programmers and data miners down the hall, and have them demonstrate how comparable customers are performing, or have them demonstrate the mix of new and existing customers across years in this sales event.

Armed with the data, tell a story. You can do a lot better than this:

In spite of a very difficult economy, our Early April Sales Event was a resounding multichannel success.

Even though our retail channel experienced a 12% decrease in comp store sales, our multichannel marketing campaigns mitigated the decrease. Without improvements in marketing strategy, the comp store decrease would have been a whopping 17%.

Catalog and e-mail marketing combined to add an incremental $500,000 demand and $100,000 profit, compared with last year. Although customer response over the telephone channel was down, catalog marketing inspired paid search effectiveness. Forty-six percent of paid search purchasers received either a catalog or an e-mail marketing campaign prior to purchasing!

Even better, paid search performed twenty percent better in markets where we had radio and newspaper advertising. We learned that our mix of multichannel marketing tactics, mostly targeted to existing customers, caused improvements in spend among existing customers. Existing customers spent 12% more this year than last year, and were 20% more likely to visit our website.

New customers, however, performed significantly worse than last year, dragging down results (especially at retail). Next year, we recommend increases in radio advertising, because markets where radio advertising was tested had forty percent more new customers than markets where radio advertising was not tested.

Following the sale event, our multichannel customer base increased from 11% to 12% of the total file, while total customers decreased by 3% due to the new customer acquisition shortfall.

Obviously, you can do a much better job at summarizing findings than I can. Given the findings, recommend a course of action for next year. It is time for somebody in e-mail marketing, catalog marketing, web analytics, traditional advertising, business intelligence, data mining, creative, merchandising, inventory management, finance, human resources, customer retention, or customer acquisition marketing to take charge.