It doesn’t take long to hear the difference between an orchestra that’s well-rehearsed and one that isn’t. When every musician is playing well with the rest, the most complex symphony will sound easy — and enjoyable. If the horn section is out of sync with the percussion, the wind instruments or other sections, however, the audience may feel like scrambling for the exit.
Something similar can happen in marketing, when small and medium-sized businesses hit their customers with the same message over email, on their web site, via social media or through a call campaign. Even worse, a customer may turn down a sales pitch or an offer through one channel and continue to be marketed through others. If customers sense the left hand of a business doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, they lose trust, and may even consider working with an alternative supplier instead.
This is why marketing experts tout the merits of “channel orchestration.” Forrester Research defines it as follows: "an approach to marketing that focuses not on delivering standalone campaigns but instead on optimizing a set of related cross-channel interactions, that when added together make up an individualized customer experience."
A more simple way of thinking about, as Marketing Profs has pointed out, is when companies move towards an ongoing conversation with customers that’s more fluid and helpful than a one-off email blast or call centre script. It’s not always easy to pull off channel orchestration, even for the largest organizations, but firms of any size have better odds if they walk through the following steps.
Spot (And Stamp Out) The Silos
Think of this step as the moment the orchestra starts assembling for a concert rehearsal. Marketing is often seen from an external vantage point — what an organization is publicly telling its customers through ads, white papers and other content. However before settling on the best way to orchestrate the various channels to reach customers, SMBs should conduct an internal audit of sorts to ensure the various team players have insight into how one other work. Even if you’re not a large enterprise, start with the following examples and make sure you over-communicate:
Email: If marketing messages are created to promote specific products, services or offers, do other parts of the marketing department receive it and know the calendar before they’re sent? How can they build on these messages?
Social media: Smart companies ensure they are not only actively talking across services like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook but doing a lot of listening. Depending on how this data is captured, however, to what extent does it reflect the kind of questions that are being directed to the call centre or to the product marketing team that might be speaking at an event?
Advertising: If you have a team booking ads, what does the team developing web site landing pages know about the kind of sites they’re running on? In most cases online ads should be offering analytics about who’s seeing what, and this should permeate the plans being developed by everyone else on the team.
Assess And Optimize Your Channels
When musicians start warming up, it can sound somewhat chaotic but if you listen carefully it’s a moment when each member of the orchestra shows off how well they can play a scale. Marketing departments may have multiple channels in place, but channel orchestration won’t achieve much if the channels are individually weak. Do an honest review of how you work across email, social, call centres and other customer touch points and determine:
Map Out (And Make The Most) Of The Customer Journey
No matter how long an orchestra has performed together, one thing holds true: they still play from sheet music. That’s because having the notes laid out offers the most consistent way for everyone to perform in the most effective way.
Marketers should aim to follow the way their customers go from research to purchase in a similar fashion. How do they learn about your category of products and services? Where do they look for information? What steps do they typically go through in making their decision, and how long does it tend to take? How many channels are involved, and how might that differ based on their demographic characteristics or how long they’ve been a customer?
Once the customer journey is clear, orchestrating the way channels are used will become much clearer, too. It’s not that everything will run perfectly -- even the most experienced musicians hit a few false notes every now and then -- but it’s much more likely that your marketing messages will sound more like music to your customers’ ears.
Learn more about how real-time channel orchestration is bringing big results to businesses by downloading the 2016 State of Marketing, a free report from Salesforce.