Creating an Integrated Multi-Channel Strategy Using a ‘Top-Down-Bottom-Up’ Approach

Challenge

Mobile and Social have been hot topics of discussion over the past several years but not very well understood by most organizations. With 130M idevices sold worldwide, 300,000 native iPhone applications created, more than 7B downloads by Q3 2010 and with the market research firm Nielsen projecting the US smartphone penetration to be over 50% by 2011, it is not surprising that many organizations are gravitating towards creating iPhone and other mobile device based applications. In addition, the relatively low cost of entry into the mobile device app market has encouraged organizations to develop such applications just for the sake of getting themselves a mobile presence. However, without a holistic understanding of how the apps would integrate into the organization’s business functions and goals, companies are unable to establish or generate a measurable ROI such as building and sustaining a community or customer relationship, improving customer loyalty, increasing revenue or decreasing cost. Without a clear strategy in place defining how to leverage the mobile, social and digital channels to meet business goals, confusing or even conflicting directions arise within an organization that will eventually lead to disenchantment with these critically important communication vehicles.

Key Considerations

Prior to creating the first iPhone application, enlisting fans for a Facebook page or responding to users on Twitter, brands should consider holistically understanding the dependencies between the mobile, social and digital channels as well as key considerations for each of these distinct channels.

Developing an integrated multi-channel strategy which ties back to business goals and considering mobile, social and digital as key customer interaction channels are critical steps in developing a holistic approach to understand a client’s business functions and goals.

When implemented correctly, an integrated multi-channel strategy can provide a 360 degree view of the customer, create a consistent customer experience and leverage business rules and processes across channels, which are all imperative to building customer relationships and meeting business objectives.

Intergrated Multi-Channel Strategy

Integrated Multi-Channel Strategy

Approach

An integrated multi-channel strategy which ties back to business objectives provides an over-arching framework to drive a consistent approach for implementing mobile, social and digital initiatives within an organization. It creates a shared vision and common language among the stakeholders.

A ‘top-down and bottom-up’ approach is used to implement the integrated multi-channel strategy. The top-down component focuses on interviewing stakeholders to evaluate the maturity of each of the dimensions in the hub-and-spoke diagram (above) using a maturity model, conducting a gap analysis between the current and desired maturity levels, prioritizing capabilities on a prioritization matrix and finally creating an actionable roadmap. The bottom-up approach relies on deriving  analytics-focused business insights using structured and unstructured data.

Create a Maturity Model

Within an organization different channels could be at different levels of maturity however they all play a critical role in holistically implementing the integrated multi-channel strategy for the organization.

A maturity model should be created for each of the dimensions in the hub-and-spoke diagram to clearly evaluate an organization’s current and desired maturity level for that dimension.  The key practices defined for each of the maturity levels provide an objective criteria to assess an organization’s maturity level for that dimension.

Maturity Level 0, Limited Presence: Organizations at maturity level 0 are characterized with limited mobile, social and digital presence. These channels are not considered core to the business and need for a better solution is not acknowledged by the organization.

Maturity Level 1, Reactive and Experimental: Organizations at maturity level 1 are characterized by the business reacting to external pressures. The need for improvement is acknowledged and pilot implementations exist but overall vision is absent.

Maturity Level 2, Defined and Repeated: Organizations at maturity level 2 are characterized by mobile, social and digital being considered core customer interaction channels and a global vision drives investment in these channels.

Maturity Level 3, Managed and Measured: Organizations at maturity level 3 are characterized by a seamlessly integrated channel experience and mobile capabilities expanding beyond implementing the core business capabilities.

Maturity Level 4, Optimization and Innovation: Organizations at maturity level 4 are characterized by a rich, dynamic, seamless channel experience where continuous improvement and optimization becomes the focus and capabilities drive deeper efficiencies and innovation.

Create a Prioritization Matrix

Analyzing a brand’s current and desired maturity level is the first step towards performing a Gap Analysis which identifies capabilities of interest required to close the gap between the current and desired maturity levels. These capabilities then need to be prioritized using a Prioritization Matrix across several dimensions such as risk, effort, implementation complexity and business impact.

Sample Prioritization Matrix

Sample Prioritization Matrix

Create a Roadmap

Areas of interest prioritized on the prioritization matrix serve as input to create an actionable roadmap showing project dependencies and estimated timeframes for long-term and short-term projects with a focus on incrementally deploying capabilities within the organization.

Implementation Roadmap

Implementation Roadmap

Derive Analytics-Focused Business Insights

Analytics-focused business insights provide direction on how to refine the implementation strategy to meet business objectives. Business insights can be derived from structured data (data stored in a structured format such as web logs or databases) as well as unstructured data (data collected via comments, reviews and the social channel). With the correct tools, processes and infrastructure in place, this data can be analyzed to draw business insights such as top selling products, top revenue producing search terms and provide real-time predictive analysis.

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Creating a Mobile Maturity Model

A mobile maturity model describes key practices for each of the maturity levels and provides a framework and an objective criteria for clearly evaluating a brand’s current as well as desired mobile maturity level. Analyzing a brand’s current and desired mobile maturity levels is the first step towards performing a Gap Analysis which helps to identify capabilities of interest. These capabilities then need to be prioritized based on risk, effort and business impact to create an actionable roadmap.

The mobile maturity model described below consists of 5 distinct maturity levels:

Level 0, Limited Mobile Presence: Level 0 is characterized with limited mobile presence, mobile is not considered core to the business and need for a better solution is not acknowledged by the organization.

Level 1, Reactive and Experimental: Level 1 is characterized by the business reacting to external pressures, need for improvement is acknowledged and pilot implementations exist but overall vision is absent.

Level 2, Defined and Repeated: Level 2 is characterized by mobile being considered a core customer interaction channel and a global vision drives investment in the mobile channel

Level 3, Managed and Measured: Level 3 is characterized by a seamlessly integrated channel experience and mobile capabilities expanding beyond implementing the core business capabilities

Level 4, Optimization and Innovation: Level 4 is characterized by a rich, dynamic, seamless channel experience where continuous improvement and optimization becomes the focus and capabilities drive deeper efficiencies and innovation.

The image below lists key practices describing each of the mobile maturity levels :

Mobile Maturity Model

Mobile Maturity Model

Creating a Mobile Strategy

In my previous post I mentioned that brands who do not consider mobility an integral part of their business strategy may experience limited benefits  from building mobile applications as opposed to brands who focus on developing a mobile strategy which ties back to business goals. A mobile strategy should provide a framework to help brands identify development, cross-platform, monetization, promotional and globalization strategies prior to developing mobile applications.

A mobile strategy provides the framework, vision and guidance on which mobile applications will be built. When creating a mobile strategy be sure to address the following:

1. Key Market Insights: Provide an overview of the mobile market focusing on mobile penetration, market share by device and OS worldwide as well as in the US. I have found spending a few minutes on the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies is a helpful way to show the ‘state’ of emerging technologies.  In this section I also touch upon mobile, social, digital usage patterns and high-level discussion on challenges such as device / platform fragmentation.

2. Competitive Analysis : A competitive analysis is a  good way to study a brand’s competition and the gap between the brand and the innovators and leaders in that business vertical. A detailed competitive analysis focusing on features, functionality and capabilities will help to clearly define the short-terms and long-term objectives the brand hopes to achieve with mobility.

3. Project Sponsors and key Business Stakeholder Interviews: One of the key steps in building a successful mobile strategy is in identifying business stakeholders from cross-functional teams. Interviewing the stakeholders on their goals and objectives to be met via the mobile channel, their target audience and their mobile behaviors and discussions around projects, data sources and application touchpoints will help to ensure cross-functional support and buy-in.

4. Develop the Mobile Strategy: When implementing a mobile strategy, one methodology that I have had success with is POST (People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology) advocated by Forrester. The mobile strategy should be customized to the brand based on their unique requirements, project prioritization, risk (e.g. resistance to adoption, concept maturity etc.), LOE and business benefit (e.g. increasing sales, decreasing costs or increasing loyalty).

5. Best Practices & Mobile Trends : Identifying best practices and mobile trends help brands to best leverage this emerging technology in building mobile websites, native apps and hybrid apps to meet business objectives in the short-term as well as long-term.