A Printer’s Guide to Cross Channel Marketing

olden daysWithin print we’re great at applying labels that confuse. We apply terms to marketing services which the marketers have never heard of. Think VDP, for example. Ask a marketer what she thinks that is and be ready for a blank stare. What we call variable data printing, she thinks of as personalisation – no wonder it’s hard to sell!

And we’ve done it again with “Cross Media”. If you don’t be believe me just Google it and see what results you get. To have a fighting chance of being understood outside of the print industry we should be calling it Cross Channel. But, worse still, I have a sneaking suspicion that many bandy the term around without really understanding the concept. So, here’s my Printers’ Quick Guide to Cross Channel (or Cross Media if that’s what you prefer!):

1.  It’s what marketers used to call multi-channel marketing
2.  They’ve always based their campaigns on a number of “touches” i.e. exposures to the brand/product being promoted
3.  These touches typically included a host of different channels as it wasn’t known which medium the recipient preferred, or was most likely to respond to
4.  A campaign was virtually “set in stone” from the outset
5.  Print was almost always one of the channels included
6.  In the pre-digital days there was far more “hope” and “guesswork” to campaigns
7.  A campaign could be judged on its overall success but rarely on individual elements or touches
8.  Marketers relied on, for example, printed codes on reply paid coupons or the timings of responses which might be attributed to the timings of an advert or piece of DM
9.  The emphasis was on COST, rather than ROI
10. “Push marketing” was the norm and the exact same message was broadcast to all recipients, without real customisation or tailoring
11. A scattergun approach was common and people believed marketing to be a numbers game – that is, the larger the database the more likelihood of success
12. That was before there was “online” – digital marketing arrived and changed the game
13. It meant speed, measurability and was perceived as cheaper
14. Emails could be created without the skill of a designer, broadcast immediately without any production time lag or real delivery cost, and sent from a user’s PC desktop
15. Using relatively inexpensive software their impact could be tracked and if when they were received and opened, forwarded or acted upon and any resulting actions measured
16. Similarly which pages on a website were visited, when, how often and by whom
17. Data from all of these channels could be captured for future use
18. Search engines allowed customers to easily find what they needed anywhere in the world
19. It became much easier not just to source but to compare suppliers and benchmark costs
20. The advent of social media  facilitated 2-way dialogue over “push marketing” or broadcasting
21. All of this meant marketers had far more channels to contend with
22. More channels means more expertise is required, more suppliers to engage with and manage
23. Print as a marketer’s choice suffered because of its perceived cost – the cost of production but also, in the case of direct mail, the cost of postage
24. The modern day marketer has very little understanding of print – no one teaches them but it’s just one of the channels they need to know about
25. Content marketing is an addition to the modern marketer’s repertoire. It relies on developing and making available information that is useful and which invites engagement for “pull marketing”
26. Bombardment, unsubscribes, spam complaints, irrelevance and overkill are what keeps today’s marketers awake at night
27. Cross channel is a potential “cure all” for these ills
28. Cross Channel Marketing software or a Marketing Automation system is the technology behind this
29. It delivers what marketers want/need – that is, relevant, timely and triggered campaigns
30. Campaigns are no longer set in stone. Now they develop based on recipient responses and generate individual customer journeys on a “what if?” basis
31. The framework and flow of a campaign is developed to include the messaging, creative, concepts and elements of collateral
32. A dataset of recipients is defined
33. Variable data is employed to produce personalised “touches” – this can span all channels including emails, print and pURLS and landing pages
34. These personalised touches can be supported by additional media, for example
·  Social media updates/integration
·  Traditional media advertising (Print, TV, radio, etc.)
·  Pay per click (Pay Per Click) advertising and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
·  Out of home (OOH) advertising
35. The response to the 1st touch determines what and when the next touch will be. Some examples,
·  where an email is delivered but not opened this might be re-sent on a pre-determined date or sent again with an alternative subject line
·  where an email is sent twice but not opened, this might generate, as an alternative, the message as a piece of printed direct mail
·  where a pURL link is clicked but a contact form on the page abandoned, this might generate an email encouraging the recipient to revisit
36. This triggering continues and so the response to the 2nd touch determines what the next touch will be, and so on
37. The target only ever receives something wholly appropriate and customised to him/her
38. Variables are seemingly endless, but automated
39. Reporting and analytics are available in real-time
40. Deviations and improvements to the campaign can be initiated quickly and at any time during its course
41. Success and ROI of individual elements is accurately measured
42. Future campaigns can be built on intelligence gleaned from previous ones

Simple? Yes, in theory. But actually getting it right requires expertise and some experience. Calling it by a name your potential customers might recognise is a good starting point :)