Adam T. Sutton

Marketing Analytics: What the heck is ‘cross-channel management?’

January 24th, 2012

Technology and language have a strange relationship. Technology pushes the limits of what we can do. Language lags behind, trying to explain what we’ve done.

For example, take “cross-channel management.” Or is it called database integration? Or multi-channel management? Or a unified customer database?

All these phrases strive to describe a similar technology — one in which a company centralizes all its customer data and makes it actionable. The vendors appear to differentiate themselves in their language and their features.

But marketing teams are reaching the limits of their databases and they need more than snappy jargon. They need clarity.

Nearly 90% of email marketers say integrating email data with other data is at least a “somewhat significant” challenge, according to the MarketingSherpa 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, written by W. Jeffrey Rice, Senior Research Analyst, MarketingSherpa. And just last week, we published a case study about a credit union that replaced its database to push its email marketing forward.

To help clarify this topic, I spoke with Kristin Hambelton, VP of Marketing at Neolane. Neolane provides “conversational marketing technology” (which is another phrase you can add to the list).

Where is your data?

Companies typically integrate their data in one of several ways, Hambelton says. First, many go à la carte, buying several pieces of software and working to integrate them. For example, a company might have a CRM system and add a marketing automation system on top of it.

One problem with this approach, Hambelton says, is that it can cause blind spots in the customer experience.

“Maybe you’re in the store, you buy a phone, you go home, you have a problem later, and you call their call center. They know nothing about you, and have no idea you just bought the phone. You had to punch your number in four times on their [phone system], and they still don’t know who you are,” Hambelton says.

Then there are platforms from companies such as Eloqua, Marketo and Neolane, which are typically used by larger organizations. These platforms provide a central database that compiles customer information across all the company’s channels. (Even this central warehouse can have one of many names, such as the “central data mart,” or “master customer record.”)

Each department receives a stream from the central database. For example, the marketing department sees which customers used a coupon, called a salesperson, clicked an email, or visited the website. The technical service department can see what products a customer owns, notes about their last tech service calls, and other related info.


What’s your price? What’s your preference?

Pricing for these platforms is typically based on several factors, Hambelton says.

  • ­Deployment type – Some companies prefer to license the software and host it themselves. Others choose the SaaS (software-as-a-service model) and store everything in the cloud. Then there are hybrid options were a company stores its own data and uses a vendor’s software in the cloud to manage it.
  • Active records – The volume of records you manage will also affect the price. You may have 10 million customer records, but it’s the number of customer records that you actively update and use that has the most impact on price.
  • Service fees – There are of course any number services you can buy from a vendor. They can help with setup and integration, help you streamline processes, and even help design marketing campaigns.

Even though we’ve yet to settle on a universal language, marketers across the industry are realizing that they need better data to increase their performance. Data is powerful. But if it’s disorganized or not actionable, then it’s just noise.


Related Resources:

Email Marketing: Global telecom combines email and content strategy to segment database

Complimentary Special Report: 4 Email Summit 2011 speakers – full transcripts

Trigger Happy: Why emails are the magic bullets of marketing automation and shopping cart recovery

Email Marketing: How a credit union selected a new database vendor and increased revenue per email 205%

Image from: ÏŸnapshot 19


Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

Categories: Marketing Tags: , , , ,

  1. January 28th, 2012 at 03:18 | #1

    Thank you for presenting an compelling position in such a clear and concise manor!

  2. Dean
    October 31st, 2013 at 14:17 | #2

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article! It is the little changes that will
    make the most important changes. Thanks for sharing!

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