September 29, 2008

Another Day In The Life Of A Multichannel Marketer

7:33am: You open Microsoft Outlook, and are greeted with 64 e-mail messages since you logged off at 10:41pm last night. At 4:06am, your CEO sends an e-mail to the Executive Team, asking all "hands on deck" for the big "Rocktober Magic" campaign that begins October 15. At 4:16am, your EVP of Marketing assigns you the task of coordinating a multichannel marketing effort for this campaign.

The next twenty-two e-mail messages deal with variations of the promotion. Everybody has ideas!

9:16am: A meeting of the Multichannel Marketing Task Force has been convened for 2:00pm today.

2:13pm: You call the Multichannel Marketing Task Force meeting to order. This is a room full of heavy-hitters, and you're leading the pack!

2:15pm: Anita in Inventory Control wants to offer up a Halloween Costume for the promotion. Her team accidentally purchased eight hundred Halloween Costumes, and only sixty-five have sold so far. She thinks a BOGO promotion (buy one, get one free) coupled with free next-day shipping would qualify as "Rocktober Magic" and really bail her out of a dilly of a pickle. Anita believes this promotion could be "blasted" to the e-mail marketing list, and thinks marketing could help out by participating on Halloween blogs, generating a groundswell of interest that would make Charlene Li, Mack Collier and Seth Godin proud ... after all, look at what Dell and Southwest Airlines have been able to accomplish?

2:17pm: Besty in Merchandising doesn't think anybody wants to pay $49 for two costumes, much less one costume. She read a Forrester Research report suggesting that multichannel customers are the best customers. Betsy thinks a "marketing blitz", featuring best sellers that provide great value, but the "marketing blitz" should only be targeted to best multichannel customers, and should offer free shipping with a $100 hurdle --- the hurdle would protect profitability while generating volume.

2:18pm: Dale in Business Intelligence asks the team to define what a "best multichannel customer" really is? This stimulates some chatter. Howard in the Web Analytics department says that returning customers visit the website four times a month and have a 3.47% or better conversion rate. Anita in Inventory Management thinks best customers should have at least one purchase in each of the past five years. Dale reminds the team that the new Oracle database only houses three years of purchase history, and in spite of independent research and opinions, best customers truly are 0-3 month dual-channel customers with 5+ orders and an average order value of $100 or more --- fitting nicely into RFM segment #26. Independent Marketing Consultant Vic Montana tells the team that Williams Sonoma might have the best multichannel marketing database in America, and points the team to a recent Pottery Barn e-mail campaign that had a nice call-to-action.

2:22pm: Felicity in E-Mail Marketing wants to blast three campaigns, every-other-day, leading up to the start of the promotion, but wants to surgically target only customers who purchased items similar to the products that Anita wants to clear. Dale in Business Intelligence says that he can only pull product-level purchases that are ten days old or older, because the update cycle of the database is not in real time. Howard in Web Analytics can confidently pull the 1,432 customers who viewed that item in the past month and have a valid e-mail address, but worries that with 62% e-mail address coverage, we might be missing out on a real opportunity with the remaining 38% of the database who viewed the item in question. Dale in Business Intelligence questions this strategy, because customers have multiple e-mail addresses, and the company doesn't have a valid strategy for de-duping records across multiple e-mail addresses. Howard thinks Dale's apartment-level name/address de-duping leaves something to be desired, because his niece, Kayla, received three catalogs in her dorm room last week on the same day.

2:29pm: Celeste in Creative Services volunteers to provide an aspirational presentation strategy that puts the consumer in the middle of "Rocktober Magic". Felicity suggests that the company avoid an aspirational presentation in e-mail marketing, because aspirational presentations violate the tenants of e-mail marketing best practices. Celeste reminds the team of the aspirational presentation strategy used in 1999 to promote the July 4th "America's Birthday" bounceback promotion that worked so well.

2:31pm: Abe in Public Relations asks who owns the Social Media strategy for this campaign? Dale in Business Intelligence and Howard in Web Analytics both agree that without a proven set of KPIs, nobody is going to be able to measure the effectiveness of any Social Media strategy, so maybe it is better for the team to focus on proven ROI-based tactics like postcard marketing? Besides, blogs are so 2006! Celeste in Creative Services volunteers to promote the campaign via Twitter and asks if the company could support a 25% off promotion exclusively for Twitter users? Shannon from the Call Center says that the order entry system can only accept offers ending in a "0" percentage. Betsy in Merchandising reminds the team that Forrester Research recommends that all multichannel campaigns be executed in an integrated manner, so let's all make sure that we use the same percentage off promotion in all cross-channel marketing activities, making sure it is either 10%, 20%, 30%, or 40% off, in accordance with the limitations of the order-entry system.

2:34pm: Rick in Catalog Marketing reminds the team that the catalogs have already been printed, and will be delivered to customers next week. Abe in Public Relations questions why catalogs are even sent to customers anymore --- how many customers buy from those things anyway, one in fifty? Abe recommends sharpening up the catalog targeting strategy next time, focusing only on customers who like the product offered in the catalog. Abe recommends cutting half of the circulation for the next catalog, and recommends that he send a press release communicating this new "green" marketing strategy. Abe thinks this will create a lot of buzz, and the buzz will drive the "Rocktober Magic" marketing campaign while protecting hundreds of trees in Northern British Columbia.

2:35pm: Rick in Catalog Marketing leaves the room for a moment. Felicity in e-mail marketing asks the team why Rick "disengaged" from a healthy conversation?

2:37pm: As Rick from Catalog Marketing re-enters the room, Independent Marketing Consultant Vic Montana asks Rick if he could quickly get access to 500,000 names and addresses from the Abacus synergy model, and send them a digest sized catalog that features a couple dozen key items that the company could really get behind? If this could be done in the next ten days, it would get around the fact that the catalog has already been printed. Rick reminds the team that it takes months to produce catalogs. Independent Marketing Consultant Vic Montana suggests that there are print-on-demand solutions that could speed this process up considerably, heck, he just purchased a book from and it arrived in five days. Rick from Catalog Marketing excuses himself from the meeting again.

2:39pm: Adam in the paid search marketing department wants $125,000 to really "blow out" the most important keywords. He believes that stiff competiton from Celebrate Express and Chasing Fireflys will limit the ability of the team to drive online volume without a significant and meaningful investment. He cites past campaign metrics that indicate that his ad-hoc bidding system yielded a cost per new customer of just $4.33, coupled with a lifetime value of over $29.00. He can promise a cost per new customer of under $22.00 with a $125,000 investment, an investment that will pay for itself within just nine months. The room stares at him, confident that he's on to something, but not really sure what he's on to. Besty in Merchandising wants to know if lifetime value information could be integrated with her daily flash sales merchandise selling reports?

2:40pm: Stephen from the CRM / IT team thinks an automated phone messages to best customers would provide an instantaneous bump to the campaign. Howard in Web Analytics reminds the team that Coremetrics will not be able to accurately measure the influence of offline marketing strategies on the website. Dale in Business Intelligence reminds the team that he can measure the effectiveness of the offline marketing strategy, but will not be able to link it to data from Coremetrics due to systems limitations. Stephen from the CRM / IT team says that there is an "SR" (Service Request) that will link offline and online data sources in early 2011. The room groans with disapproval, though Stephen reminds everybody that the members of the room are responsible for assigning priorities for all projects. The room groans even louder! Independent Marketing Consultant Vic Montana tells the team that Williams Sonoma does a nice job of linking together data across brands and channels, that he recently returned a $173 latte machine and received a marketing e-mail within just six days of the return, and he never even had to opt-in to that program! Felicity squirms, realizing this is a clear violation of e-mail marketing best practices. Anita in Inventory Control asks if we could start an e-mail marketing program for customers who return merchandise?

2:46pm: Your CEO stops by for a quick visit on her way to the Supply Chain Efficiency Task Force Meeting. Oh, the marketing ideas are flowing ... the members of the room cannot stop talking over each other as they share what can be done within each channel. Your CEO is so pleased that everybody "has skin in the game", and offers your meeting as a shining example of how Congress could work together in a bipartisan manner to pass bailout legislation. The room applauds as your CEO exits at the same time that Rick from Catalog Marketing re-enters the room.

2:49pm: The room, exhausted from such a productive conversation, looks to you for leadership and resolution.

What would you recommend as an appropriate multichannel marketing strategy, given the feedback you've heard from your team?

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