Having worked in web design and digital marketing for nearly 20 years, Filterati Sam McRoberts has had a prime view of marketing’s evolution from a linear model to a deeply integrated ecosystem. Sam is an entrepreneur, SEO expert and social media aficionado who loves solving complex puzzles — which there are no shortage of in the fast-changing world of multichannel marketing.
Sam has helped leading brands like HTC, Microsoft, Nokia and Getty Images optimize ROI, conversions and customer engagement, and in this interview, we had the opportunity to find out how. Check out Sam’s insights on the challenges today’s marketing teams are wrestling with, and how they can bring their tools, teams and strategies up to speed with today’s marketing landscape.
Q: How has multichannel marketing evolved over the last few years, and how are these changes impacting marketing teams?
Multichannel marketing has been around for a long time, but it’s been much more fragmented. As a result, there’s still lack understanding of how interdependent the different channels are. Most companies are still using tools and processes that may have worked in the past, but that don’t reflect the full scope and complexity of today’s model.
When companies continue to make decisions based on the older, more linear model, they run into a number of issues. For instance, they might focus on month-over-month changes, which don’t account for seasonal and event-based trends, news and events. Or, they might assign equal weight to each channel — when the reality is that each one plays a different role and has a different impact.
In addition, I see a lot of marketers remaining hyper-focused on very specific user personas, which can create bias and a limited view of potential scenarios. The bottom line is that without making a comprehensive shift to a more fluid, integrated approach, it’s impossible to execute multichannel marketing successfully.
Q: What role are analytics tools playing in multichannel campaigns?
One of the biggest issues we’re seeing is that companies aren’t configuring these tools properly. The reality is that although many marketers have a basic understanding of platforms like Google Analytics, far fewer have really mastered the right way to set them up and interpret the data they generate. It can be very difficult to find and recruit these experts, so many teams are leaving the initial configuration up to their teams’ best guesses.
Today’s analytics tools can be extremely helpful, but they aren’t a plug-and-play solution. No matter how good the tool kit is, the pieces won’t add up if it’s not configured properly. Especially with several different teams using the same tool, improper planning up front can cause a chain reaction of mistakes and oversights down the road.
Q: How is this integrated model impacting team dynamics?
With so many players involved in multichannel campaigns, it can be challenging to keep everyone in alignment. Social media teams, SEO experts, designers, and others tend to approach the data from different angles and with different priorities, making it difficult to execute a consistent strategy.
To solve this problem, companies need to put in extra effort to maximize cohesiveness and communication in their marketing efforts. Hiring for and fostering collaboration is key: bringing together such a wide range of skill sets and perspectives can be hugely beneficial, but only when everyone involved is working toward a set of shared goals.
Q: What is the main piece of advice you would offer a company who needs to improve their multichannel strategy, but has limited internal marketing resources?
Invest in the right expertise, especially at the start of the project. Again, it takes a very specific type of professional to determine exactly what tools to use, what to measure and how to interpret the data — so leaving the initial mapping to non-experts is a major risk.
Many teams lack that skill set internally, but that doesn’t need to stop them from establishing an effective, customized strategy. I strongly suggest bringing in an experienced subject matter expert, at least for a short time at the beginning of the project when you’re setting up your tools. You’d be surprised what you can gain from just a couple hours of intensive planning.
Q: What do you enjoy most about helping companies with their multichannel initiatives?
I love puzzles, and I hate inefficiency, so helping companies to better understand their data and find the most efficient and effective levers to pull is a lot of fun for me. Seeing the “a-ha” moments, when you show someone a different way to look at a problem or solution and it clicks, is also really rewarding.