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Ask a Journalist: Susan Kuchinskas, ClickZ


Ask a Journalist’ is a weekly column where we turn the tables on journalists, asking them their opinions on cross-channel marketing based on their unique vantage points covering the online marketing ecosystem. 

Today we’re reaching out to Susan Kuchinskas, a freelance journalist writing for ClickZ and other publications about digital media and brands and the Author of The Chemistry Connection. Susan was previously a staff writer for Adweek and Business 2.0.

susankuchinskas-300x225Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: Last year, you wrote about how Urban Outfitters was using a new app to deepen the digital connection with customers.  From your research and writing, what are the marketing platforms/channels that you believe would best help brand marketers to engage with their customers?

I can’t really speak about the specific platforms, but today, what I think is really important for any marketing platform is to bring in as much data from each channel as possible and use that to provide one unified view of the customer. It’s important to bring in data from all channels – social media, mobile, the web, ideally, even traditional media, as well as bringing in different 3rd party data sources, because consumers are channel hopping so much now that it’s really difficult to market to them in a unified way without that unified view of them.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: What’s your favorite device, platform or vehicle for entertainment? For getting news?

For entertainment, and to some extent news, I use my Samsung Galaxy S4. I really like it because the screen is big enough that I can actually read a book on it, I can read a news site and I can even watch video on it.

I’m a big reader and I love reading on my Kindle, and at home, I also use my Kindle for watching Netflix. If I want to watch TV or movies I just hook up the Kindle, select the Netflix app, then hook it up to a digital monitor and I’m good to go.

And I’ll get my news mostly through Google News.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: You’ve written quite a bit about social media, including Social Media for E-Commerce Traffic. What role do you see social media having in brand marketing?

It’s really interesting how big a role social media is playing in branding.

Now brands can participate in conversations as people, while consumers, who may say they’re averse to advertising, are actually interested in interacting with brands on social media. Data shows that people – especially millennials – are eager to have brands as friends.

One thing that social media has forced brands to do – at least the ones that do it well – is to respond very, very quickly. There is research showing that 24 hours to respond to a request via Twitter is way too long. I think that consumers love being able to reach out and have a major company respond to a question in an hour or less.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: But are these relationships via social media authentic?

Is any Twitter or Facebook relationship an authentic relationship? It’s a complex question.

Even if it’s not an “authentic” relationship, it’s some kind of relationship. And whatever kind of relationship Facebook or Twitter provides you with people you don’t know, it does seem to provide the same kind of relationship between a person and a brand as it does between two people.

People seem to interact with brands in the same way they interact with people (as long as brands are behaving in person-like ways).

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: Can you give me an example of cross-channel marketing which you’ve seen which was successful? And one which you think didn’t work or fell flat?

In general, what I’m finding as a consumer is that so many times, marketers are still not doing the basics. For example, you click on something in an email and it doesn’t go to the right place on the web.

Here’s an example: There’s this cool new service called SpoonRocket which delivers home cooked-style meals really quickly. They were in a private beta so I requested and received an invitation and I signed up online. Then when I tried ordering food the online ordering system didn’t work. It’s a mobile-first service so I decided to download their mobile app. When I went to authenticate, it didn’t recognize me and told me to request the private beta (even though I already received an invitation online).

The smartest marketers are integrating their teams. Instead of having separate teams for online, search, social, etc., they’re having one team do everything. It doesn’t solve the problem of keeping up with the proliferation of channels but at least it helps them think in a more unified way.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: 2014 will be the year of _________ (fill in the blank). 

Mobile, still again.  It’s been the year of mobile since 2001.

It seemed like last year was the year that mobile really started to make it. A significant majority of consumers are mobile, yet I’m still hearing from marketers that they’re grappling with how to become a mobile-first organization and how to do mobile marketing well. The marketing giants are solving this but the next tier of companies on down are still trying to figure out their mobile strategy and what’s the best way to communicate with consumers over mobile.

Ultimately, it’s not going to be as simple as just ‘going mobile’. There’s iOS, Android, and there are large form factor devices like tablets and small form factor devices like phones.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: Thanks for your time and effort, Susan. 

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