What constitutes good multi-channel messaging & why isn't everyone doing it?


During a panel discussion I took part in recently, an audience member asked which companies did the panel think are doing a good job of multi-channel messaging. I thought it was an interesting question because unless you are armed with a knowledge of what data is being used and how it is used, it is a difficult question to answer without being subjective. It also begs the question, what does good multi-channel messaging look like? Following the event, I decided to give the issue further thought and would like to take this opportunity to share my general take on the obstacles facing those who wish to implement Multi-Channel messaging.

When thinking of evidence of brands that do multi-channel well, there is a tendency to equate great creative that is responsive to the device it is being viewed on (Disney for example do this particularly well) as being evidence of great multi-channel marketing. It is not.

That isn’t to say that Disney are not doing a great job of multi-channel messaging, but you cannot tell just by looking at the creative, what if any underlying multi-channel messaging tactics are being used. 

The truth is almost nobody is actually employing a truly integrated approach to their messaging. Let’s take search for example. It is the largest and arguably the most expensive digital channel, but have you ever come across a case study or heard of anybody that takes their TV or email activity into account of their bid strategy? In a truly multi-channel world they would do.

How? By reducing their bids or pausing their programme in the minutes or hours following their ad being aired or email newsletter being deployed, or bidding more when their ads are not on air, or days they don’t send email, because they know exactly how one impacts the other.

The brands that come closest to multi-channel messaging are the brands that have the most control, because they either own or dominate the channels they use. Amazon and Apple are the best examples of this that I can think of.

For any other brand, here is what you need to have in place in order to call your messaging program truly Multi-Channel (listed in order of ease):

  • A consistent customer and brand experience across devices
  • The technology to deliver the messaging that is personalised to the individual and formatted to the channel it is delivered in.
  • A single view of the customer

The consistent brand experience is something most brands spend a lot of time and money in terms of visuals and voice and the one most agencies can deliver. The technology piece pretty much exists and many of the email vendors – Mailchimp, Oracle, Salesforce etc. can or claim to be able to deliver relevant personalised communications to any device and/or channel. Providing they have the data.  Interestingly many people assume that the technology piece alone is enough to deliver a single customer view. It won’t.

What is missing and the main reason companies are unable to deliver truly multi-channel campaigns is the lack of data organised in such a way as to give that single view of the customer. They can’t because the metrics they collect, tend to use and are used to using, are all campaign based. Using campaign based metrics to analyse customer behavior or to get a single view of a customer is like looking at a star through the wrong end of a telescope.

Customer-level reporting is very simple in theory. You measure every interaction every customer you have has with every message you send over a given period of time. When you send an message, every customer you have will either be sent that message or not, receive it or not, see it or not, click on it or not and convert or not. Simple. But to truly measure engagement by channel, not only do you have to repeat that process every time you send a message or impression, you also have to connect each of these individual customer interactions with all of their previous interactions, whether you targeted them with a given message or not. Armed with this view of the customer multi-channel becomes a matter of execution via the messaging platform you select. Here at Alchemy Worx our team of analysts help our customers to aggregate data from all channels to generate subscriber insights that integrate their email campaigns into an overall multi-channel messaging strategy.