For decades, direct mail was the workhorse of direct marketing, and as technology advanced, marketers migrated to far less expensive contact methods like email, online advertising and search marketing; the total number of direct mail pieces declined steadily as marketing budgets moved into other online channels. In parallel, there has been a shift in consumers’ interaction with a brand.

Consumers are driving the ways they prefer to be communicated with by brands. So with new technologies emerging, content and messaging across marketing channels is becoming a top priority for many marketers. Within one campaign, there are multiple channels used to message to consumer groups, as the chart inset depicts from a survey conducted in 2015 of various organizations across the country. Marketing channel integration is vital to a successful campaign.

Mobile is quickly becoming the primary mechanism consumers are using to consume media. Because mobile is being used in conjunction with other devices, marketers must connect behaviors and interactions across channels. If not, retailers are missing out on the context in which the consumer is engaging. From an engagement perspective, according to a recent survey, over 80% of marketers are doing some sort of personalization, but only 19% are doing it in real time. Most are missing out on context.

Digital channels represent 25% of today’s total marketing budgets, and with the adoption of smartphones, digital commerce, and growth of social networks, digital marketing spend is expected to grow to one third by 2017. The rise of digital channels comes with its own challenges – as they can be difficult to integrate with existing systems in place within the marketing ecosystem (due to inflexible, costly-to-change back-end IT systems). Integration is essential to communicating across departments, and focusing the business in support of strategy, be it customer centricity or operational.

Marketers are increasingly aware of inconsistencies between their own marketing channels (emails, websites) and paid channels (display, mobile and social advertising), and they are grappling with how to bring this all together. Marketers are realizing that they need a more holistic approach to interaction management.