So far, I have described advertising and promotion activities separately. However, the orchestration engines can work across channels. The recent trend is for customers to use multiple media simultaneously to connect with marketers. In return, marketers are also using multiple channels to connect with their customers.
For its eighteenth birthday, P.F. Chang, the gourmet Chinese restaurant chain, decided to use a campaign that consisted of giving away its signature lettuce wraps. The P.F. Chang promotion was conducted using Facebook, and it offered coupons for lettuce wraps. The strategy helped double its fan base, and the company saw a more than 3,000 percent increase in engagement on its page.14
The media spend across channels has always been closely managed by marketers, but how do we now organize and measure the collaborative forces across channels? There are three levels of coordination across channels.
The first level of coordination is associated with an awareness of customer cross-channel activities. A number of analytics programs have begun to store, correlate, and analyze activities across channels. For example, Clickfox analyzes customer events across channels to develop a holistic view of the customer experience.15 While most of these activities have been focused primarily on care as opposed to marketing and sales, most of the techniques, instruments, and findings are equally applicable to marketing. In a typical cross-channel customer experience analytics, all customer events are collated and stitched together to formulate a comprehensive customer status. Each channel contributes its partial view of the customer. By combining this data across channels, the marketer is able to obtain a comprehensive view across all the channels. This revised understanding of the customer can now be shared with each channel.
The second level uses a channel to complete the task for another channel. The P.F. Chang Facebook lettuce wrap coupon is an example of using more than one channel to carry out a campaign. The purpose of the campaign was to make its customers aware of the restaurant’s eighteenth birthday and increase fan participation. In its typical social media way, Facebook fans shared the campaign with their social circles, increasing the effectiveness of the campaign and resulting in a good uptake for the restaurant’s coupons. The coupon redemption increased customer traffic to the P.F. Chang stores. This level of cross-channel activities is prevalent in online advertising. Very often, the purpose of an advertisement is to seek the customers’ interest and get them to click a link, which takes them to product information, a promotion campaign, or a sign-up for some activity.
The third level optimizes the activities for an overall marketing goal. The activities may span many channels—social media sites, stores, or other ways of spreading a marketing message. Typically, a marketer is seeking a multiplier effect, in which the customers will spread the word for the marketer for a campaign. A good example comes from Starbuck’s use of Facebook to decide where to introduce its pumpkin spiced latte a week before national launches in the United States and Canada. The goal in this case was to create a marketing buzz for the national campaigns. Starbucks set up a competition across its 37 million fans distributed around the world. Fans in each city participated to help their city win by carrying out activities like doing a city shout-out or a daily challenge. Chicago and Calgary were the winners in the United States and Canada, and the ultimate winner was the Starbucks marketing team.16
Cross-channel orchestration is a relatively new concept, and is rapidly gaining popularity due to the automation and data accessibility across channels. While the initial pilots are limited, they are showing big results in the correlational value of channels. Once properly instrumented, cross-channel marketing activities can track customer shopping across channels and offer “Next Best Action,” based on the customer’s current state of decision-making. For example, if the customer is conducting searches on a product, the advertising can be targeted to provide specific features of interest. Once the customer has completed the search, the campaign can turn to promotional activities. Once the customer makes a purchase, the campaign can be refocused on selling add-ons or gaining testimonials to social circles. These activities are performed today in a highly organized way in business-to-business marketing by dedicated account management teams. Technology may facilitate bringing this capability to large- scale consumer marketing.