Multichannel marketing aims to build relationships between brands and customers through relevant, connected engagements with targeted audiences. Success depends on generating and applying data-driven insights into customer behaviors and interests, goals, and needs (both expressed and inferred). It also requires knowing how channels operate most effectively — in isolation and in unison — to deliver the fabled troika of right content / right audience / right time. Amid the rapidly shifting business climate of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, executing on customer inputs in an agile fashion is more mission-critical than ever for marketers seeking to achieve retention and growth goals through multichannel engagement.
Multichannel marketing hubs (MMHs) are a core technology digital marketing leaders use to achieve their multichannel marketing goals. Among reference customers surveyed for this year’s Magic Quadrant research, 87% said they use their selected MMH solution daily. Gartner’s 2019 Marketing Technology Survey found that 39% of respondents had fully deployed and are using a multichannel marketing hub, putting MMHs among the evaluated marketing technologies with the highest full deployment levels. Another 30% of marketers indicated that they are currently deploying an MMH.
Multichannel Marketing Hubs Defined
Gartner defines the MMH as a technology that orchestrates a company’s communications with and offers to customer segments across multiple channels. These include website landing pages, mobile, social, direct mail, call centers, paid media and email. MMH capabilities also may extend to integrating marketing offers/leads with sales for execution in both B2B and B2C environments.
How Can an MMH Help You?
Gartner research indicates that customers react negatively to irrelevant, undifferentiated messaging. Marketers are adjusting to changing consumer expectations by placing greater emphasis on multichannel personalization. They are intent on driving more relevant digital experiences across the customer journey.
MMH vendors support marketers in these efforts by enabling their ability to:
- Collect and unify individual and audience data from multiple sources
- Perform detailed customer segmentation using that data
- Improve the timing and targeting of personalized messages and offers across seamlessly orchestrated campaigns
- Respond to a proliferating number of consumer touchpoints with relevant experiences
- Attribute results to specific channels, convert campaign data into predictive insights, and prescribe profitable next best actions and offers for marketing teams
What Are Some Key Themes in This Year’s Magic Quadrant?
We identified a range of developments in the multichannel marketing hub landscape in the past year. Following is a selection of those highlighted in the MQ:
- Better predictive decision making: Predictive analytics infuse every MMH use case, from campaign creation to impact measurement. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are used to support:
- Segment discovery, guiding marketers toward audiences most likely to engage
- Campaign and journey path generation based on business goals
- Channel propensity models driven by a customer’s profile, behavior and preferences
- Predictive content and offer recommendations
- Autonomous campaign optimization capabilities
- Refined emphasis on customer data and profile management: This has been an evolving theme in the MMH market over the past couple of years. This year, we noted MMH vendors improving their level of data management, profile unification and analytics capabilities in response to market demand, implicitly raising the question: “To CDP or not to CDP?” Many vendors are consciously building customer data platforms out of a perceived competitive mandate. Those falling into the latter camp, while not productizing a CDP as part of their solution, emphasize the flexibility of their MMH in ingesting diverse streams of customer data. These approaches reflect a shift in the capabilities that marketers perceive as driving differentiation in their delivery of relevant experiences.
- Signs of category overlap: Convergence with CDPs around customer data and profile management capabilities is not the only area of overlap for MMH solutions. We’ve seen signs of some purpose-built mobile marketing platform vendors evolving into what they regard as the next generation of MMH solutions. Similarly, given the importance of personalization across marketing channels and touchpoints, and MMH vendors’ progressive incorporation of AI/ML-based tools designed to enable personalization at scale, some overlap with other martech solutions, including personalization engines, is inevitable. For now, Gartner does not foresee these overlapping categories collapsing into one. But, in the current climate of uncertainty, selection of a new MMH may take a backseat to improving utilization of existing technology, especially for digital marketing leaders faced with shrinking expense budgets.
How Can You Find Out More?
The 2020 Magic Quadrant for Multichannel Marketing Hubs is now available for Gartner clients.