For sale: customers for conversations.

digital-smlThe rise in consumer channels and the shrinking of budgets has marketers being pulled in opposite directions. There are now more ways than ever to engage and communicate with consumers.

These consumers are demanding more from a brand in exchange for their dollars and loyalty. However, marketers are still faced with the challenges of needing to do more with less: less staff; less time; less resource and tools; and tighter budgets. So how can marketers get it right?

The answer we consistently hear back from the industry is that marketers need to work smarter not harder. We need to streamline the marketing approach, be more selective about when, where and how we communicate with customers. And, in today’s digital world, we need to do everything in real-time. A brand’s marketing strategy and approach needs to be scalable, responsive and adaptable at a moment’s notice. Marketing is no longer just a push tactic. It’s a dialogue. It’s the journey to build long-term relationships with your customer.

The issue is; this doesn’t always match with corporate expectations. How do you measure the value of a relationship? What’s the ROI?  How can you leverage the information you already have?

The overwhelming majority of marketers are required to justify their investment to executives and this can mean that budget is diverted to the tactics which are easiest to measure, rather than the ones that deliver the greatest value. So the process of monitoring, measuring and benchmarking is becoming a top priority for heads of marketing.

This is compounded by the fact that companies are flooded by data and, due to a lack of skills, resources and time, marketers often struggle to efficiently make use of this data and draw out actionable insights.

The industry is at a crossroads of redefining the relationship between customers and brands. To evolve, brands need to place the customer at the centre of all their communications.

For many, a cross-channel approach is seen as an optimal solution when looking at the way brands approach their data and use it to inform their interactions with customers. However, there is significant confusion in the marketplace on where multi-channel marketing stops and cross-channel marketing begins. Indeed this is a journey. It’s about moving from static messages across multiple channels to a conversation – tailored and targeted, based on real-time customer actions and behaviours. Where multi-channel marketing is pre-determined and static, cross-channel is flexible and response-based.

The need for both the art and science of marketing communications has never been greater. It’s time to blend data and engagement with creatively delivering successful campaigns in a way that is meaningful to customers.

To find out more about developing a cross-channel strategy download the latest Experian research:

AU-CCM Research

Download Australian Cross-Channel Marketing Report, 2013