Improve Cross-Channel Marketing Campaigns

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Improve your cross-channel campaigns using integrative analytics, best practices, testing techniques, and effective targeting. It reviews behavior across channels, includes tactics that marketers can use to leverage that behavior, provides real-world examples, and presents a case study from Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group has improved its interactive marketing campaigns.

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Consumers are more dynamic, informed, and unpredictable than ever, and they use more interactive channels—including email, mobile, social networking, and the web—to inform and execute their buying decisions. To be successful, marketers must be ready with relevant marketing at a moment’s notice, whenever and wherever consumer behavior and preferences dictate. Cross-channel lifecycle marketing provides marketers with a more nimble, holistic approach to planning and executing marketing programs that deliver greater customer value and higher revenue for their organizations.

This guide describes how to improve your cross-channel campaigns using integrative analytics, best practices, testing techniques, and effective targeting. It reviews behavior across channels, includes tactics that marketers can use to leverage that behavior, provides real-world examples, and presents a case study from Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group that shows how this 6,000 employee franchise business has improved its interactive marketing campaigns to drive customer engagement and increase revenue.

What is cross-channel behavior?

Cross-channel behavior comprises activities that take place across all channels—web, email, mobile phones, and social networking. Marketers are currently being asked to harness this multichannel activity to increase revenue and customer engagement for their companies.

Customer behavior has changed dramatically over the years. In the “good old days,” customers interacted via one channel, making the marketer’s job a pretty straightforward affair. But now customers are potentially using all channels, and marketers need to have processes in place that determine how the highest value prospects are interacting on all online channels, not just with their company but with each other as well.

Studies show that companies that communicate across channels see significant gains in growth, conversion, and profitability versus those that don’t. In short, it’s no longer sufficient to talk to customers in one place. You need to reach them across the spectrum, focusing on the channels that your customers and prospective customers use the most.

Cross-channel lifecycle marketing

Once you understand customer behavior relevant to your market, you can begin to develop a lifecycle marketing plan. Most marketers spend a lot of money on customer acquisition, hoping that a few prospects will become customers. But online marketing can actually be broken down into five interactive phases (or loops).

  • Permission (may we engage with you)
  • Conversion (visitors taking the desired action)
  • Purchase (first buys)
  • Repurchase (subsequent buys)
  • Stickiness (time spent at your site).

Cross-channel lifecycle loops

As we’ve already noted, marketing to today’s cross-channel consumer requires a dynamic and integrated approach that continually assesses customer behavior and preferences to determine the most effective marketing content, timing, and channel delivery. In today’s rapidly changing online world, marketing messages need to be behavior-based and they need to be delivered via preferred channels. At each point in the lifecycle and with the right data, you can deliver appropriate marketing campaigns that reflect where your customers and prospective customers are in the interest-decision-purchase lifecycle. Let’s look at a few real-world examples of this.

Email marketing was founded on the principle of permission. But today, permission shapes the very basis of all online relationships, not just email. Marketing across mobile, social, and web channels also starts with permission; only with permission can marketers begin to communicate with the new cross-channel customer in an informed, personalized, and holistic way.

Cross-channel permission

Companies have several methods they can use to gain customer permission. Sears, for example, uses a variety of channels for this all-important first step—asking customers to opt in via email and mobile, providing widgets, or communicating through social networks. After Sears has permission, it uses its various programs to stay in touch.

Email—welcome program

After gaining permission, Fresh Pair uses email to implement a three-stage welcome program that starts with an introductory email, is followed by a promotional offer encouraging an initial purchase, and culminates with an invitation soliciting more information about the customer.

Mobile—alert program

A slight variation on this theme comes from Newegg with its mobile promotion that uses Deal of the Day and Deal of the Week mobile alerts.


StubHub uses a web cross-sell program delivered as targeted content on a dynamic landing page. The StubHub site analyzes customer views, response rates, and purchasing history to improve the web experience and increase sales.

Social—Friday giveaway

Finally, Whole Foods leverages the strength of its brand and its social environment to engage customers, keeping them top-of-mind and brand-aware with polls and surveys, recipes, health and nutrition tips, and product reviews. As an example, Whole Foods might ask for recipe suggestions, sending respondents a gift card or coupon along with links to related products in their stores. These stickiness programs keep customers interacting with Whole Foods on a regular basis, and they help Whole Foods stay close to its customers to promote products and drive purchases.

Bringing it all together: Cross-channel lifecycle marketing—email, mobile, social, web

Single-channel campaigns can still be successful, but today’s marketer needs to reach out everywhere because most customers move across channels. In a traditional welcome program, when a person joins an event, the company sends a welcome message, then collects information on where the person goes online and how they prefer to be contacted, and finally follows up with a discount or other promotion. Instead, these messages can be sent using a number of channels.

  • Welcome messages can be sent via email or mobile (conversion).
  • Transactional messages can be sent through email or mobile (repurchase).
  • Targeted, relevant messages can be sent across all channels (stickiness).

In each case, you need to be able to find your customer, make contact, communicate across appropriate channels, and then collect and analyze information to refine future efforts. As an example, Burton uses its social channels for email capture. Southwest Airlines does email permission capture through TV ads and other channels, leveraging email to drive visitors to its social networking sites. 

Tactics for success

Marketers have heard a lot about the power of cross-channel marketing, but many aren’t doing it. There seems to be three main reasons for this:

  • Complex integration issues
  • Disconnected web processes
  • Inability to leverage data

In many cases, teams are focused on specific channels and don’t share information with one another, creating silos rather than integrating their efforts. This approach inevitably leads to lower customer engagement, more disjointed and less relevant communications, and ultimately, lower conversion and revenue. Marketers must find a way to bring data and processes together to create a cohesive and coordinated marketing program.

Responsys has been working with Adobe to develop integrated solutions that make cross-channel marketing possible.

Responsys had the following overall goals:

  • Integrate Responsys using the Adobe Online Marketing Suite Solutions, Powered by Omniture technology to automate and consolidate data flows for remarketing purposes
  • Display targeted content in emails based on visitor preferences, behavior, and geographic location
  • Increase the average click-through rate (CTR) and average open rate for geo-targeted emails

The collaboration has produced the following results:

  • Responsys Interact Connect allows users to simplify data integration, while Adobe SiteCatalyst®, Powered by Omniture®, helps to compile and segment the data.
  • Responsys Interact Insight helps marketers leverage reporting information and combine different types of data such as email and site conversion metrics or revenue and click-through rates.
  • SiteCatalyst combines different campaign metrics and helps marketers determine which types of web and targeting activities are the most profitable. That information is then used to drive subsequent campaigns.
  • The average CTR has increased by 80%, and the average open rate for geo-targeted emails has increased 100%.

Targeted emails based on web behavior

These solutions also collect information on purchasing history or segment codes and targets, which can go into a filtering system for email promotions. In addition, Responsys can send its recommendations and the results from Adobe Test&Target™, powered by Omniture, to the Online Marketing Suite, which is then immediately incorporated into the next marketing campaign.

Other case studies

Under Armour leverages browsing activity to target promotional campaigns. If users are looking for a specific product, they can opt in to receive certain promotions and then receive subsequent messages targeted to a particular browsing and purchasing history. Using this tactic, Under Armour’s email revenue has increased 22%, and profile targeting has increased eightfold.

StubHub has seen great results as well, thanks to its use of Adobe Test&Target, Powered by Omniture capabilities. They wanted to recapture site visitors who didn’t purchase anything on prior visits, so they collected browsing histories and used that information to drop recommendations into subsequent email messages. The customized messaging worked, and they saw revenue increase by 2500%! 

Case study: Dollar Thrifty

Dollar Thrifty is a large franchise business across the United States and Canada. It is the low-cost provider of car rental services whose main targets are budget-conscious travelers. When Dollar and Thrifty merged in 2002, the new company focused its marketing efforts on personalized or “micro-marketing” activities. The economic crisis in 2008 affected the travel market, but because Dollar Thrifty was already seeking out value-conscious customers using cost-effective campaigns, it has fared better than many of its competitors over the past two years.

Dollar Thrifty’s largest marketing channels are email and web. Its website alone, which attracts 100,000 visitors each day, brings in 46% of its reservations. It is also the lowest cost channel, so the company tries to drive as much business there as possible, particularly through the use of email. Dollar Thrifty sent out 83 million emails last year, which generated considerable revenue and helped drive even more visitors to the website. 

In 2009, Dollar Thrifty began using the Adobe Online Marketing Suite, which includes Adobe Test&Target, Adobe Insight, Adobe SiteCatalyst, Adobe Genesis, and Adobe SearchCenter+, all powered by Omniture. The company had seen how well StubHub had fared using some of these products, and Omniture fit well with the company’s goal of developing more proactive marketing programs.

In the past, Dollar Thrifty would send out online offers with no way of knowing how well each campaign was working or even whether the messaging was relevant to recipients. In May–June 2009, the company implemented the Online Marketing Suite in the hopes that it would enable them to develop more relevant messaging and better measuring capabilities.

Integrating Online Marketing Suite solutions

Dollar Thrifty used Adobe Test&Target to test different layouts and revamp their website to reflect the best way of delivering targeted campaigns. They also analyzed this data to refine their email marketing messages and decide where to position the best offers for customers.

Dollar Thrifty now selects its best targets with data integrated through Adobe Insight. The company can pull offline data using data warehouses, match it to confirmation numbers, and bring both sets of data together to create a customer profile. This has made it significantly easier to create email campaigns. For example, for a campaign to boost business in Canada, data about winter rentals was combined with data on rate shopping to get targeted prospects and later to create relevant banner ads that were placed on the site to further boost interest and engagement.

List definitions continue to be refined depending on Dollar Thrifty’s specific business goals at the time of a campaign. If the goal is to improve utilization rates or increase book rates, the Online Marketing Suite solutions are used to help design lists and campaigns accordingly. Dollar Thrifty has seen higher open and click-through rates as a result, but the unsubscribe rate is still higher than normal. To address the high unsubscribe rate, the company is using Adobe Insight to clean up the lists and make sure that targets are as high value as possible.

Email blasts

Dollar Thrifty has used email blasts in previous years, but now it wants to make them more relevant and successful using Responsys Interact Suite to refine the process. In the past, the company would compile a list of names and email addresses and send blasts of timed emails. Now that it is compiling a lot of relevant data, it is able to create a customized master list and send it to Responsys Interact Insight along with relevant campaign information—for instance, pulling names from a list based on car type or time-saver products like GPS.

Moreover, it can use these solutions to analyze the data and measure results. It’s important to know which efforts are working. Adobe SiteCatalyst allows them to find out who visited the site from a particular email campaign and who made a subsequent transaction.

2009 results


  • Revenue from email was up 50.6% year over year, with only a 3% increase in the number of emails delivered.
  • Revenue per email increased 37.5%.


  • Revenue from email was up 28.5% from the prior year, while the number of emails delivered remained flat year over year.
  • Revenue per email increased 15%.

Continuing the journey in 2010

Online marketing solutions from Adobe and Responsys have helped Dollar Thrifty meet their goal of developing a successful customer contact strategy by talking to the right prospects as often as they want to be contacted and, at the same time, not overwhelming them with information. To leverage the 2009 results, the company is in the process of introducing some new campaigns.

Rate-shop abandonment

Many rental agencies have people make reservations and then not pick up if they find a better offer. This practice is costly, and Dollar Thrifty wants to avoid it whenever possible. To do this, Dollar Thrifty leverages data from Adobe SiteCatalyst to find out when a visitor abandons the site, uses Adobe Test&Target to show relevant offers to those people, and then uses Adobe Insight to see if the push has changed conversion rates.

Cancellation rebooking

Dollar Thrifty can’t change customer behavior, but it does want to encourage customers to book with them again. That could mean offering the best rate guarantee or a discount. To do this, the company must be able to track cancellation rebooking trends. Using Adobe Insight, they are now able to see which customers are cancelling and how soon after cancellation they rebook with Dollar Thrifty. In fact, Adobe Insight has shown them that people were generally not rebooking after cancelling, indicating that Dollar Thrifty needed to craft a better cancellation rebooking offer.

Last-minute deals

Dollar Thrifty is using its current cross-channel capabilities to drive business in areas that have overfleeting or some other issue. The booking pace and timing of offers is determined by reporting from Adobe Insight. The report can show which areas aren’t doing well, giving the company an opportunity to create targeted campaigns to mitigate that.

Win-back of previous renters

Email reports show who clicked on an offer and who didn’t, but in the past, Dollar Thrifty wasn’t able to see whether former renters were ignoring subsequent email offers. In some cases, customers might have made reservations on another channel, but reports weren’t reflecting that. To make sure that they were getting relevant messages, the company added information about the last rental date to the master list so that information from all channels could be brought together in one report.

Segmentation and relevance

Adobe Online Marketing Suite solutions also make it possible to segment and target customers in ways that weren’t possible before. Customer data marts can provide email addresses, but other data is needed to create relevant campaigns. Many customers want offers that are relevant to their loyalty programs and their preferred partners, so Dollar Thrifty adds that information to the master list and creates offers leveraging those programs. In the case of a particular campaign, segmented lists are matched against the master list and opt-in lists and then cleaned up to become more targeted to the offer. All these efforts have made it possible for Dollar Thrifty to set marketing strategies for the next two years with confidence. Marketing campaigns are being designed to drive as much traffic to the website as possible, using all the channels at their disposal. The company will know how and where customers are interacting and continue to design better communications that reflect those preferences, focusing in particular on the lowcost, high-value channels that drive the most profits. The most important part of the strategy is being able to measure how well these efforts are working and how much revenue they generate. Using Online Marketing Suite solutions, Dollar Thrifty will be able to see what’s working and generating the most profits, which will help them make future efforts more targeted and cost-effective.

Best practices

In 2008, Aberdeen Research published “Next Generation Multichannel Marketing” in which they identified the following best practices for cross-channel campaign management:

  • Engage in cross-channel measurement and analytics—that is, get all of your customer data (demographic data, behavioral data, transaction history, etc.) in one place.
  • Identify high-value segments; find out who among your customers is most likely to purchase high-margin products and deliver repeat business.
  • Deliver targeted offers to segments throughout the customer lifecycle.

Aberdeen also found interesting differences between companies that have implemented these best practices and those that haven’t—specifically, best-in-class companies (the 90th percentile and up) generally had.

It is a competitive necessity to put in place cross-channel marketing best practices to expand your revenue and profitability. According to Aberdeen Research, statistics show significant increases in competitiveness when using cross-channel marketing:

  • Two and a half times higher revenue growth rates
  • Five times higher customer conversion growth rates
  • Three times higher customer profitability growth rates

Closing thoughts

While there are challenges to cross-channel marketing, creating such a program now will drive higher revenue and customer engagement in the future. Start by simplifying data integration, connecting the different processes through information sharing, reporting, and analysis, and then using that information to segment, target, and test campaigns so that you can execute them in a coordinated fashion.

Putting cross-channel behavior to work: The new model

To do this effectively, you must first understand customer behavior. Look at what people are doing across different channels and become familiar enough with meaningful patterns that you can leverage these in your marketing campaigns. Make sure the marketing, conversion, and online teams are working together to develop relevant campaigns and have metrics in place to measure the results. This creates a better web experience for the customer and more relevant communications, which generate higher revenue and customer engagement for your enterprise.

Communication, data sharing, shared goals—this is what it’s all about! Magic happens when the web people talk to the email people, truly understanding that they “co-own” the customer. Make it a part of your day or week to see if one of you can help the other. Think of each side as an integrated part of the other. It sounds so simple, but it doesn’t happen naturally. And get familiar with the applications used “across the aisle.”

Key takeaways:

  • Today’s customers are interacting across numerous channels such as web, email, mobile devices, and social networking.
  • Therefore, marketing campaigns must cover all channels, focusing on the ones that bring in the most business.
  • Develop campaigns that touch all stages of the customer engagement.
  • Measure and analyze online behavior, making it easier to create targeted, relevant messaging.
  • Work collaboratively across the aisle.

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