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In a recent webinar with the American Marketing Association, Cardinal Path’s panel of experts including Alex LangshurCorey Koberg, and Eric Hitchman, shared insights into some of the most powerful marketing techniques available today.

The questions from the audience made it clear that people are looking for ways to get started on an omnichannel strategy, wherever that may begin. From establishing a foundation for a successful analytics program with a measurement framework to activating data with programmatic media buying, there are different ways to approach a customer-centric, data-driven marketing strategy for every business, and hopefully this Q&A will help shed some light on your own questions.

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1. How do you go about defining audiences and segments?
Once you have a good understanding of the various channels you will need to determine your key audiences. We suggest starting with your existing business segments. Some organizations have already put significant effort into trying to understand these segments. If you use an airline example, consider their frequent flier programs and the different tiers – platinum, gold, etc. It also includes new customers who are not part of the program. Someone who has never flown the airline before will require a different experience – likely more guidance and incentives to begin flying.  Your loyal members will desire the most efficient process or ways to maximize their point earning and redemption.So the way you interact with those segments needs to be different as well.

b. Moving beyond those obvious segments, it’s time to consider a data-driven segmentation.  This is where analytics can really help out. For example a cluster analysis can help you quickly identify audiences that you may not have know existed based on their profile or behavior. It will take all the data points that you have and start to try to identify trends and ways that customers  group together that might not be obvious.  Often as business users, we often have some preconceived notions about how our customers behave.  An algorithms has no bias and can often uncover some very intriguing behavior. It can be very interesting to point the algorithms at problems such as customers not converting where they can help identify some specific patterns that you can activate against.  Planning around the type of audiences you have will help determine where your best opportunities are.

2. For Omni planning: How should we pick which channels to concentrate on first?
a. There are a few different approaches that you can take.  You might want to start with the channel(s) where you have the most spend.  If you are trying to demonstrate some quick wins and demonstrate the value of omnichannel, then channels where you are have the most budget allocated will move the needle more.

b. Another option is to utilize the channels where you have the most data available. Some of your channels will provide a much richer view of your customers and support integration with other channels.  A perfect example of this is being able to take advantage of remarketing through Paid Display based on a customer’s activities on your website. You can identify specific audiences that are likely to respond to those types of activations.

c. If you have an established CRM or email program then utilizing the rich data you have been collecting to identify audiences and offers not only within that email program but can also be extended across other channels.

3. For Omni planning: How should we pick which channels to concentrate on first?
a. Analysis: the measurement framework and the programmatic components required analysis skills.

b. Insource components where deep business knowledge is required. Segmentation is something that should be deeply ingrained in organization and often requires deep knowledge of customers.

c. Insource components where deep business knowledge is required. Segmentation is something that should be deeply ingrained in organization and often requires deep knowledge of customers.

d. Outsource when time and expertise are required: weigh how quicky you need to get up and running

e. When to outsource:
i) when time and expertise are required: weigh how quickly you need to get up and running
ii) when skillsets are transferable–operating a programmatic platform, implementing
analytics infrastructure or building a dashboard.

f. Weigh the cost of failure. Building from scratch–you won’t get it perfect the first time. Can you live with failure or delays in getting up and running?

g. What resources do you already have in house–are you starting from zero or will this be an incremental build?

4. What role does testing play in all this?
a. Trying to find optimal for your entire universe of customers is problematic.  And frankly, exactly the issue we’re addressing. Think back to the Measurement Framework and how we aligned each step of the customer lifecycle across each of the different audiences.  What we want to is try and optimize each of those intersections.  So instead of looking at how we optimize purchase across the board we instead want to think about how to purchases for each different audience: browsers, buyers, repeat customers, etc..

b. The way you message to each of those groups needs to be different.  And in order to determine what specific messaging works best in order to optimize the outcome is  through testing.  The critical point about testing is that it you need a structured testing plan.  Aligning to the Measurement Framework helps to create that structure.

5. Is there a workbook detailing the main steps to implement programmatic customer acquisition available? What infrastructure we need, which main data, critical tracking strategies?
a. This is a very common request from our clients.  They want to know how to get started. In many cases, no additional infrastructure is necessary. It is more likely  that you will need to make sure what you have already is configured appropriately so that you can measure the success of your marketing.  From a customer acquisition standpoint, one area that is often underlooked is the need to track the customer’s activity after they have clicked on an ad and arrived back at your site.  Most websites will already have Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics tracking implemented on the site at a basic level.  But in many cases the configuration will need to be updated to make sure that the all of the specific events and tracking are consistent and ladder up to the measurement framework.  This is usually an area where assistance from a partner who has managed these types of implementations can really help streamline the process.

6. I keep hearing about Programmatic, but it appears to be this ephemeral thing. Is there a way in which we can make this tangible? In other words, using real mediums or products can you describe Programmatic in action?
Imagine you are trying to re-target a dozen high-value products to thousands of users across hundreds of publisher properties.  Each user has had at least one of the products in their cart during a recent site visit.

Now imagine a machine using dozens (or hundreds, maybe thousands?) of indicators to decide what product ad is the best fit for the user in question.  Imagine that the same machine was making a determination about how much it’s willing to pay for that impression @ 7p.m. in Chicago, when it’s served up on  Can you imagine trying to set those sorts of parameters yourself at any sort of meaningful scale?  This is one way we can talk about programmatic in action.

7. Examples of how companies aligned to do all of this are organized?
a. We find that many organizations have historically been organized from a channel-centric view instead of customer-centric standpoint.  In order to capitalize on omnichannel, leading brands are moving towards organizing themselves based on key customer Audience segments.

b. Likewise, given the complexity of platforms and scarcity of technical expertise, many organizations deploy a Center of Excellence (CoE) model that is shared across the business.  This can be a channel-specific CoE such as Email or cross-channel functions such as Analytics or Data Science.

c. Finally, defining the right governance process and ensuring you have the right Marketing Ops model will bring this to life.

8. What is your perspective on how one would apply omnichannel in a B2B services world?
A primary focus for B2B is driving leads. If someone comes to a B2B website and has either downloaded a whitepaper or filled in a form, you’ll want to make sure that their next interaction with your brand  – whether it’s an email or a website visit – provides an incremental message, building on their area of interest. Look at it from the customer’s viewpoint – they have already expressed an interest and want to learn more about your product/service. What can you do to nurture that interest and ultimately create a sales qualified lead?

9. What is the best application or platform for managing programmatic media buying?
There are a lot of great resources out there for determining a good Demand Side Platform (DSP).  At the end of the day, it’s really going to depend on the type of service you need, the type of 1st-to-3rd party you’re looking to leverage, the type of scale you’re looking for, and the price you’re willing to pay.

When it comes to selecting a DSP, keep transparency top of mind.  Are the cost models clear?  Is the service level in line with what you require based on yours or your company’s expertise?  

10. What are the biggest gaps in current DSPs that limit the potential of programmatic?
Depending on who you ask, you’ll hear a lot of different answers here.  In many ways much of the DSP functionality is commoditized in terms of the ad networks and exchanges that most DSPs integrate with.  One of the main factors to consider is the reach you can achieve through each DSP.  Since the integrations are mostly the same, it is often more valuable to focus on the effective or true reach that each DSP can provide.  This is often driven by optimization algorithms and audience match rates. The best way to determine the right-fit DSP is to test a few platforms to see which can deliver the best reach while meeting your CPA goals.

Beyond functionality, the biggest considerations are the pricing and operational models.  Not all DSPs can scale up or down to meet an organization’s specific requirements.

11. Interested to know how social media advertising fits into your larger programmatic campaigns. Also, do you define your benchmarks for “social” or each individual platform? Thanks!
Great question.  In my eyes this comes back to performance based media.  At the end of the day, we always need to be focused on our end goal.  Having a measurement framework means we know what the value of consumer engagement at each level of the customer lifecycle is.  Social looks like it will always be a part of the mix, but that doesn’t mean we treat it differently.  If you’re revenue focused, and you’ve only got $1,000 to spend, that budget needs to be allocated to the places it will have the largest impact to the business’s bottom line.

With that said, you always need to make sure that you have some understanding of the impact that one channel has on the next.  Analytics for eCommerce was another topic that our very own Nick Iyengar, Associate Director of Digital Intelligence covered in a webinar at the end of the last year.  I think he put it best: “Remember, no single attribution model is the correct model – rather, it’s in comparing performance using different models that you’ll really get insights about how your different marketing channels work together.”

12. So you said omnichannel — Can you elaborate with an example of a customer journey?
The classic example is a retailer that has both a brick and mortars storefront as well as an e-commerce presence. Consider a retailer  that sells outdoor apparel.

The customer journey begins as many do – with a search on Google.  This individual is in the market for a new ski jacket.  Their last purchase from the retailer was a few months earlier. The retailer can take advantage of AdWord’s Customer Match to help identify any existing customers when they are searching with relevant keywords. So when the customer searches for “performance ski jacket”, the retailer is able to bid for the top paid search result and serve up a relevant ad. In this case the individual clicks on the ad, lands on the retailer website, and receives a specific discount for existing customers.

Even though they don’t make a purchase, later that evening the customer opens the retailers mobile app to take a look at one of the jackets he was interested in.  Because he is authenticated in the app, the retailer can identify him and is able to leverage his recent activity on Google and the website.   A dynamic offer is presented on the app home screen showing the same discount he was presented earlier. The customer clicks on it, picks his colors, adds it to his cart, but does not complete the purchase.

When the customer later comes into the retailer’s physical store, he could then use the  mobile app to alert an associate about the product he was interested in and try it on within the store and, finally, complete the purchase

13. How would you approach multi-channel with limited marketing budget for a start up company? This is an app for the transportation industry.
As we discussed, setting up measurement from the start is a crucial first step.  Even if you only focus on one or two channels to begin with, establishing consistency will help you measure success across each stage of the customer journey.

In terms of which programmatic channels to explore, it depends on what you are doing today in terms of your marketing budget.  Many brands tend to begin with search as it lends itself well to testing what the demand for your product/service is.

14. Do you have an example of how remarketing on search ads play a role here?
In this case, search remarketing is just another channel.  They were on your site some time ago and here’s your chance, they’re about to experience another piece of your brand’s content.  What do you do?  What do you show them?  First, it will be  about knowing what they accomplished when they were on your site the first time.  Did they view any products or did they bounce straight from the homepage?  Did they make a purchase and are back to check their order details, or are they back to make a repeat purchase?  

The same concepts apply.  Can you take the context of that audiences experience with your brand in the past and use it to everyone’s advantage by showing them the content they’re most interested in seeing?

15. What would your advice be for a business who sees the value of targeting marketing, but doesn’t know where to start?  For example, what software/infrastructure is required as well as resources required to manage?
Similar to the answer above, don’t try and do everything at once.  Create your foundation of measurement and identify your key channels.  Some of those choices will be driven by your budget and what you already have in-place.  Depending on the maturity of your organization you may be able to start with a relatively low up-front cost and utilize a number of SaaS solutions.  Having someone that has implemented and managed these types of programs is critical whether that be an internal resource or working with a partner.


View the on-demand webinar: What Marketers Need to Know About Programmatic, Omnichannel, and Measurement Framework.