Thursday, May 28, 2009

Are Marketers REALLY Ready for Cross-Channel?

I recently purchased a couple of items last weekend at Sears. The checkout lady asked me if I wanted to sign up for Sears' email marketing newsletter. Huh? Usually I'm asked if I want to sign up for a Sears credit card and receive a 10% discount on the spot. Turns out Sears is really pushing their employees to sign up customers for the email newsletters - in fact, giving them incentives for doing so. Maybe this isn't a nation-wide drive, but it's certainly happening in my neck of the woods.

Acting on a tip, I went to the web site to opt-in for text alerts on deals.

The text response was something that I'd expect following mobile messaging best practices. Good summary of what I opt-ed in for. Good explanation of how to opt-out.

But wait! What about an invitation to opt-in for email newsletters? Sure, is a nice mobile-optimized site. But what about using this text alert opt-in event as an opportunity to invite me to opt-in for email marketing?

To be fair, the web site features both email opt-in and mobile opt-in side by side on the same page. But why not use mobile messaging as a lead source for email messaging, and vice-versa? I also opt-ed in to Sears' email marketing campaigns and received the standard welcome email.

And, as I suspected, no mention of opting in for mobile events. A missed opportunity for cross-channel marketing!

I've been monitoring a lot of what marketers are talking about - both in their blog posts, their Tweets and so forth - looking to see if anyone is making the connection between mobile and email marketing. One thing is becoming clear to me: very very few mobile marketers are talking about email marketing and equally rare are email marketers talking about mobile marketing. For example, in her 200-plus page book, "Mobile Marketing Handbook", Dushinski devotes a mere 5 sentences to the subject of mobile email. In their almost 300-page book, "Email Marketing an Hour a Day", Mullen and Daniels are likewise a tad light on ideas for cross-channel marketing. But to their credit at least they do mention US Airways' tactic of combining Print and SMS as channels for generating opt-ins to email marketing.

So what's the deal? Could it be that agencies and corporate marketing departments have constructed walls of separation between mobile and email? Both are interactive online channels. Why aren't there more real-life examples of cross-channel marketing campaigns combining the best of SMS and email? Could it just be that marketers themselves aren't yet ready for cross-channel marketing? Are mobile marketers coming from backgrounds other than email marketing? Are email marketers keeping their feet firmly entrenched in their channel? Or perhaps the answer is the most simple: it's all still new and we're all still trying to figure it all out.

If you're a marketer in the interactive space, what's your forte? Mobile? Email? Both? Is your organizational alignment preventing you from implementing effective cross-channel campaigns? Do you have any real-life examples of effective cross-channel campaigns? Let me hear from you!

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