Channel Silos are Negatively Impacting Message Personalization

As consumer expectations for personalization across marketing channels continue to increase, the importance for brands to smartly utilize the customer data they’ve collected grows alongside it. But, even for those marketing teams that are personalizing campaigns across multiple channels — from email to mobile push and SMS — channel silos threaten to damage the overall customer experience they’re trying to create.

While it’s easy to build campaigns in each channel separately — and most multi-channel ESP platforms require you to do so — it’s essential for marketers to think of these various channels as one interconnected way of communicating with customers. Why? Because that’s precisely the way customers think of them. And that’s especially true for Super Senders. All of the communications consumers receive are associated with the brand they receive them from, and they expect these channel to be seamless. If one channel doesn’t appear to know what the other is doing, that hurts trust and that overall experience with the brand.

A new study from Merkle has detailed how marketers are approaching the different channels and how they’re utilizing the data they’ve collected. What Merkle found is that the silos are pretty clear even when the marketers don’t necessarily realize they’re there.

Marketers mostly use channel data within its channel

This may be the most important finding in Merkle’s survey: customer data collected within and for a particular channel tends not to stray from that channel for purposes of personalization.

While 70% of marketers report using third-party customer demographics for personalization emails, just over 40% use it for digital media and less than 30% do so for their website. That’s because, once that data’s collected, you know who you’re sending emails to, but it’s harder to tie those demographic details in to other channels that might not be as mature or that require more investment in the martech stack in order to integrate in a seamless manner. The same trend can be seen with email responses, with more than 60% saying they factor this data into their email marketing work but less than 30% say they do so for digital media and barely 20% use it for the website. But remember: customers expect all your channels to work in harmony. If they respond to an email, they expect your brand to be smart enough to know that across whatever communication channels you have.

These sorts of silos work the other way too. While well over half (55%) of marketers said they use website activity data (visits, abandoned carts, etc.) in their digital media communication, and slightly under half said they use it for website personalization, barely 35% said they put this data to use in their email marketing. Marketers across industries in the survey said they use customer demographics data for email marketing, but so much other regularly collected data — from location to order history to website activity — went unused or under-utilized by well over half of respondents. This can lead to incongruous communications that confuse customers and cost brands in loyalty and conversions.

How do you break down the silos?

Merkle offers this advice on improving marketing personalization from good to great:

Shift your focus from channel-specific personalization decisions to holistic, cross-channel personalization. Customers don’t see brands as channels, but many marketers are still operating under a channel-brand strategy

This really is the key, and it begins with shifting the marketing mindset from one of building separate campaigns from channel to channel into one of building one channel-agnostic campaign that utilizes all the data you’ve collected to deliver the right message to the right channel at the right time. You need to think of your brand communication across channels as one campaign, built not with the channel but with the recipient in mind. What are their channel preferences? Would this particular message make the most sense to deliver via email, mobile push, SMS, or a different channel? If you can build one campaign that takes all information into account in order to deliver to the correct channel, all the communication will be more cohesive.

And that comes down to the martech stack. Do you have the right tools to make this happen? If tearing these channel silos down is a priority for you, finding a cross-channel solution that enables you to build in this “single campaign” mindset should be high on your list the next time you go out to RFP. Switching the way you think about the channel-campaign approach may be the first step, but having the right tools at your disposal may be the biggest one to taking your personalization efforts to the next level.

About the Author

Jeff Haws

As MessageGears’ Senior Marketing Manager, Jeff is focused on producing engaging and thoughtful content that resonates with enterprise marketers, helping them to better understand how MessageGears makes their jobs easier. He’s passionate about understanding the way data impacts messaging, and he’s also hopelessly obsessed with baseball.