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Commentary & Analysis

Digital Channels Showing Highest Growth: But What About Integration?

What is the current state of marketing? A just-released survey from Salesforce provides insights into digital channel growth, along with the current state of integration. The takeaway for MSPs? If you haven’t invested in marketing automation, it’s time to take a closer look.

By Heidi Tolliver-Walker
Published: September 8, 2017

What is the current state of marketing? A just-released survey from Salesforce gives us some insights. There are two charts that caught my eye that I want to share here.

The survey, which is based on results from 3,500 marketers around the world, doesn't cover direct mail or other traditional channels. But the question about channel growth is relevant to MSPs integrating direct mail with digital channels.

When respondents were asked about which digital channels are growing the most, here is what they said:

Channel Growth Over Two-Year Period (2015-2017)




Video advertising



SMS/text messaging



Mobile apps



Native advertising/sponsored content



Advertising on social platforms



(How many of these channels are you helping your clients integrate into their direct mail/multichannel marketing programs? Are there any you’ve been avoiding or conveniently overlooking? Don’t!)

As we might expect, “high performing marketers” (defined as those indicating a high level of satisfaction and confidence in their marketing efforts) are more likely than “underperformers” to heavily coordinate across channels. In fact, they are 12.8x more likely to do so. Clearly, coordinating marketing channels makes a difference.

Volume of Channel Coordination by Performance Level


 Heavy Coordination

Moderate coordination

Minimal coordination

High Performers




Moderate Performers




Under Performers




But as the report points out, such coordination is easier said than done. In an ideal world, the goal is to evolve a message throughout the customer journey. However, only about one-quarter of marketers responding to the survey actually do so. Most say that about half (51%) of their messages are “identical broadcasts from one channel to the next.” 

High performers are twice as likely as underperformers to evolve messages across channels, but still, only 43% do.

True multichannel, customer-centric marketing that takes into consideration the customer journey isn’t easy, even for the biggest and best. The question for everyone else is, “How do we get as close as possible?”

The answer is going to require technology—good technology that uses artificial intelligence and automates the process in a way that human beings alone cannot do.

It’s a good thing we’re on the cusp of Print 17. Marketing automation, anyone?

Heidi Tolliver-Walker Heidi is an industry analyst specializing in digital, one-to-one, personalized URL, and Web-to-print applications. Her Marketer’s Primer Series, availalbe through Digital Printing Reports, includes “Digital Printing: Transforming Business and Marketing Models,” 1:1 (Personalized) Printing: Boosting Profits Through Relevance,” “Personalized URLs: Beyond the Hype,” and “Web-to-Print: Transforming Document Management and Marketing.”


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