crossPeople are less and less willing to accept impersonal and general advertising messages due to increasing information overload of marketing communications across a constantly growing number of media. However, cross-media communication demands and requires new systems and tools, as in our digital era companies cannot succeed with the traditional communication media anymore.

Society, the market, and the consumers indicate the need for a fundamental rethinking

In future, companies must make contact in a direct and personal way with potential customers and offer them something new and attractive to get their attention. Only with individual communication measures, interactions and dialogues, the mature and self-confident customers can be reached effectively. Due to the newly developed consumer culture, people expects a company to know their needs and responses quickly. However, this requires a continuous personal dialogue and systematic interaction with the consumer, which also means the exit from the mass marketing/ communications and entering into a target group-oriented individual marketing or one-to-one marketing via digital media.

Today, having a genuine dialogue means that the company listens to their customers – e.g. on social media. It is now the task of companies to ensure their competitiveness, by providing tailored products and an appropriate customer dialogue, to comply with the consumer trend of individualization. This means that every customer has to be treated as a separate market segment and addressed with appropriate marketing measures. By personalizing the customer relationship, the company learns more and more about each customer and can use this knowledge to satisfy the individual needs.

Integration of cross-media communication channels makes the difference

One effect of social media and the Web 2.0 on marketing is that marketing takes place more and more often without the companies. To countervail, companies try to capitalize on this trend and work hard to provide attention-grabbing information on the Internet that can be accessed by interested parties. That way, consumers should be encouraged to participate actively, initiating interactions like voluntary referral marketing in the form of word of mouth. At least that is what businesses try to achieve through public dialogue, besides focusing discussions on feedback-, design-, and hands-on features, as well as the interaction opportunities with employees, fans, friends, prospects and customers. This helps to strengthen the credibility and reputation of businesses and at the same time consumer confidence in their products.

Due to the possibility of interactions online, customers can decide what information they want to receive - or not - and in which form. Thus, they are no longer at the mercy of decisions made by the marketers, instead reject information they do not want.

In practice, the integrated communication is still an issue with a large need for improvement, since the dialogue-media needs to be linked with all others, especially with constantly added new channels of communication, such as mobile marketing and social media. Brands are now experienced intermedia in magazines, on the smartphone or on social networks, across the virtual and real worlds, making it obvious that media convergence requires an optimum combination and integration of online and offline.

Big Data and data mining optimizes the selection

You probably can’t hear it anymore, yet, "Big Data" is one of the hot topics discussed manifold from a technical point of view. However, since it is not a pure IT issue, but one that usually leads to major changes in the company, it is the duty of the management to handle it: Big Data does not identify the mass of data, but rather the benefit for companies received from all that information.

Big Data enables marketing with comprehensive market analyzes and market monitoring, allowing it to focus on the particular individual. Furthermore, Big Data enables making informed predictions directly from the data and algorithms, without requiring interpretation of the results by experts.

Besides that, advances in information technology have led to new opportunities in data warehousing: Storage has become inexpensive and the programs are getting more and more user-friendly; and powerful analysis tools allow for individualization in real-time.

As a result, it is easier to select the customer from the database according to specific criteria, so that actions are becoming more accurate while minimizing wastage.

Monitor the journey of the customer in the purchase decision process

The customer journey shows all contact points of a user on the road to a defined action, taking into account all marketing channels a consumer encountered over that specific period. The tracking and analysis of the customer's path is in the forefront. Hence, finding out which advertising material makes the main contribution to the product sales is important: It can be analyzed which and how many touchpoints consumers need to make a decision and at what stage of the decision-making process what kind of combination of different media seems to perform particularly well. Knowing all this can help businesses to distribute their advertising in a more targeted manner to those channels that are most effective and efficient in the relevant phase.

Increasing complexity requires infrastructure and systems

Because of the increasing digitalization, campaigns are now planned with a variety of media channels. The integration of online channels - such as e.g. search advertising, display advertising, social media or newsletters - with the traditional offline channels, like TV or print, is now standard, as consumers combine different information. Purchase channels and information search, purchase initiation and buying impulse, often take place in other channels than the actual purchase, making cross-media communication more demanding. In fact, this requires systems and tools commonly used in marketing automation.

The enormous potential of alternatives for the measurement and analysis of online marketing campaigns, and the rapidly growing number of communication channels at the same time, however, increase the complexity and confusion in the overall consideration of the activities. Actually, complexity has increased to such an extent that a manual campaign controlling has become almost impossible.

By Daniela La Marca