Marketing in a Cross Channel World: Transitioning from a Local to a Global Maximum

In my previous blog post, I talked about convergence of MarTech and AdTech and its potential impact on digital marketing as we know it. While I mostly focused on the technology trends and ensuing convergence in that post, I wanted to focus on ensuing changes in strategy and thinking with this post. Specifically as it relates to prioritization of demand and optimization of campaigns. The advertising industry has led the charge when it comes to building platforms that allow advertisers, publishers and agencies to operate in a cross platform world. Ad servers such as Doubleclick now allow advertisers and publishers to buy and sell ads across a variety of platforms (desktop, mobile, connected TVs) and formats (display, video, social) leveraging 360 degree insights across all of them. It is now time for the entire world of digital marketing to make that transition.  What would that really mean to the modern marketer?

The World of Local Optimization

Traditionally, marketers and agencies alike have always sought for ways to optimize their marketing strategies for a given channel. For e.g. with SEO, marketers have been laser focused on keywords to use, traffic estimates for those keywords on the different search engines (Google, Bing etc) and relative ranking for those keywords vis a vis their competitors. With SEM, marketers and agencies alike have been focused on keywords to bid on, ad pricing strategies and landing pages. SEM agencies differentiate in their ability and sophistication in devising optimal keyword strategies, picking appropriate pricing and auction models and driving A/B testing of ads and landing pages. However, even today, these agencies do all of the above in isolation and with little insight into what is working on other channels let alone learn from it. Same is true for social, display advertising and all of the other channels.

As a result, marketing organizations end up with highly optimized strategies and execution plans for each channel. Borrowing mathematical concepts, this results in multiple “local maximums” for each of the channels. However, the modern marketer will only realize marketing nirvana by optimizing for the “global maximum” – maximizing the ROI of all marketing investments across channels to drive new pipeline and demand. This requires new thinking and a new approach.

Moving to Global Optimization in a Cross Channel Marketing World

Marketers have traditionally lacked a single platform that provides them with a birdseye view across channels. As a result, cross channel optimization has not been possible. The digital marketer’s goal is to generate high quality leads at lowest cost using existing resources (content, people etc). This means figuring out the right content, right campaign and the right channel to maximize conversions.

In the new world, marketers for the first time can globally optimize with marketing goals and strategic initiatives in mind. Working off a set of strategic priorities and initiatives, marketers can create and execute on a cross channel digital marketing plan. So, what does it really mean to execute on a cross channel digital marketing plan? Let me explain. Marketers can now view their campaigns similar to how investors manage their wealth via stock portfolios. If you think about a stock portfolio, investors and fund managers deploy capital assets in both long-term and short-term investments and monitor key metrics daily. Periodically, they rebalance the portfolio to optimize for returns on the invested capital. In a similar vein, marketers should deploy their marketing budget in both strategic (eg., organic search) and tactical (eg., paid search) campaigns, they should monitor the conversion rates & cost per lead (CPL) on a daily basis, and they should launch new campaigns and retire campaigns not performing constantly to optimize for cost per lead, pipeline generated, and closed business. A marketing portfolio should not be any different.

Plan and Prioritize Investments & Content Across Channels with a Digital Marketing Plan

At the end of the day, marketers are trying to drive net-new qualified pipeline at the lowest possible cost of acquiring these new potential buyers. Marketers should learn what content, campaigns and assets that work in concert across channels to target specific buyer personas. For e.g. marketers should look at the queries that drive the highest traffic and engagement on their organic channels to optimize the keywords that they pay for on SEM channels. Likewise, marketers can look at keywords that generate the highest engagement on organic channels and use those keywords in their tweets as hashtags to drive engagement. All of this is corroborated by Google’s latest research that talks about how Paid and Organic campaigns can work in concert to drive favorable outcomes.

Scale with Targeted & Personalized Campaigns Across Channels

It is not sufficient to only analyze across channels, but also execute campaigns across the different channels. Campaigns and landing pages have traditionally been tied to the channel – organic landing pages, SEM campaign landing pages etc. In advertising however, advertisers have always decoupled the notion of campaign from the channel itself. In other words, advertisers devise the messaging and campaign and then target/create unique variations of that campaign based on the channel. Marketers now need to extend this thinking across all their marketing channels – leverage the “create once, publish anywhere” paradigm from advertising and apply it for their landing pages across search, advertising and social channels. Doing so, will enable the marketer to focus on strategies to personalize campaigns with end goals in mind. Marketing channel just becomes another personalization dimension that marketers can personalize campaigns based on very similar to geo, device, keywords and other dimensions.

Maximize ROI with Cross Channel Testing & Optimization

Traditionally, marketers have used numerous tools to drive A/B and multivariate testing on content, campaign look/feel and CTAs for a single channel. However, what is really needed is testing and optimization of content, messaging, testing of content, campaigns and messaging across channels for a given set of buyers. This means that marketers needs the tools and the platform to be able to test and optimize  across channels. For e.g. if the marketers wants to reach a buyer – he/she needs the right set of tools to be able to test the right combination of content and segmentation criteria to be able to create the right campaign in the right channel for that buyer.

These are exciting times – marketers that learnt to adapt and optimize their marketing portfolio for the “global maximum” are the ones that will drive this change.

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