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How Cross-Channel and Multichannel Marketing Differ

April 16, 2012 By Dan Smith
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In an informative podcast recently from ClickSquared, Suresh Vittal, vice president, practice leader for customer intelligence at Forrester Research, addressed the distinctions between multichannel and cross-channel marketing. This compelling dialog highlighted the key capabilities marketers should seek in a marketing platform, and also underscored the importance of working with a vendor that can effectively manage your marketing database.

Here are four key takeaways from Vittal's presentation:

1. An organization should closely examine its needs before choosing a marketing platform. Vittal explained the difference between hosted software and true cloud offerings, helping marketers to understand the pros and cons of each.

2. Choose a platform that fits those needs. When discussing the differences between multichannel and cross-channel, Vittal stated, "If simply multichannel marketing was your requirement, all the capabilities you would have to look for in a marketing platform would be the ability to execute messages in different channels. But if cross-channel marketing is your end objective, the capabilities that you will need are far more complex and nuanced. You'd want, for instance, the marketing platform to be able to retain promotion and response history, or what I would call the institutional memory of the relationship you have with your customer across all channels. You'd want the marketing platform to be able to design a communication stream that hands off the customer between channels and is able to pick up the conversation between the channels."

3. One of the needs that Vittal recommended considering carefully is the business rules necessary to execute your desired program. He continued, "This [a cross-channel platform] will require the marketing platform to be able to process a whole host of complex business rules to be able to decide which direction to take the conversation and how to process the responses so they're relevant to the customer at any given time. The marketing platform must also be equipped to design and identify events and trigger communications based on those events. It also needs to be able to analyze information in real time, or in the batch mode, and make decisions based on that information. Cross-channel marketing will also require your marketing platform to support outbound as well as inbound communications through the same platform."

4. Last but not least, the discussion also included Vittal's thoughts on data management. This is an important topic for organizations struggling to manage an ever-increasing amount of data from a growing number of marketing channels. While cloud marketing platforms don't eliminate the need for rigorous data hygiene practices, marketing in the cloud does mean that many common data management challenges are solved by the vendor's tools and accompanying data management service offerings.

Dan Smith is the senior vice president of marketing at ClickSquared. 


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