Omnichannel Marketing: A matter of connecting the dots

The rise of omnichannel and its importance to you and your business  

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Omnichannel Marketing: A matter of connecting the dots

Oct 1, 2018

Omnichannel Marketing: A matter of connecting the dots

The rise of omnichannel and its importance to you and your business

Marketing is changing fundamentally. Consumers can now engage with your business in a variety of ways:

  • a physical store
  • an online store
  • a mobile app
  • social media
  • chat, text, email and more

Moreover, consumers now expect to engage with your business whenever they want, using whatever device they want. 

And consumers have also come to expect personalized communication and the ability to shift between devices and channels mid-transaction without disrupting the interaction in question.

Naturally, all of this presents tremendous challenges for business owner/operators. Not only is it daunting to develop and maintain multiple channels that feature consistent branding, messaging and functionality, but it’s also an added challenge to make the customer journey seamless if a customer wants to switch channels mid-transaction.

But it’s what the majority of consumers expect. According to the fourth annual State of Marketing report recently issued by Salesforce Research, “52% of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t personalize communications to them” and “65% of business buyers are likely to switch brands if a vendor doesn’t personalize communications to their company.” This explains why “64% of marketing leaders say their company has become more focused on providing a consistent experience across every channel.”

The bottom line is a connected customer experience is no longer a “nice to have,” it’s imperative, that is if you want to stay competitive.

The Elusive Connected Customer Experience

One of the main challenges of producing a seamless journey across the customer lifecycle is having necessary customer data, which typically requires leveraging information from multiple sources.

Another potentially greater challenge is creating a single, shared view of the customer, one that can be accessed across your organization, thereby enabling you to provide customer service via all of the channels through which you interact with customers.

The good news is that according to the aforementioned marketing report, “consumers are more willing to trade data for better experiences.” For example, “among millennial consumers, 58% will share personal data in exchange for product recommendations that meet their needs (as will 52% of Gen X consumers).”

But you still have to overcome other common problems like budgetary constraints and finite internal resources. Never mind the fact that the same customer might provide you with different data when using different devices, perhaps an email address when utilizing your site and a cell phone number and different email address when using your web app.

The average consumer is now using multiple devices in a day, often several at the same time, a trend that appears to be accelerating. According to Statista.com, the number of connected devices per person is expected to be 6.58 in 2020, up from 3.47 in 2015 and 1.84 in 2010.1 

Tech Tools Enable an Omnichannel Strategy

As for the tech tools you need to execute an omnichannel strategy, many experts regard customer data platforms (CDP) as “one of the key tools (if not the key tool) brands can use to support truly automated omnichannel experience management.”2 

Specifically, a CDP is “purpose-built to accept data inputs from a variety of online and offline engagement systems, such as Facebook, CRM, email, e-commerce, data management platforms (DMPs), call center, and in-store POS—among other sources of customer data,” explains RedPoint Global. “The CDP enables you to blend all this data into a unified customer profile, also called a ‘golden record,’ and use that knowledge to provide more relevant marketing messages to customers at the moment of engagement.”3

Is Omnichannel Strategy Right For You?

A bigger question is whether your business should pursue an omnichannel strategy. For its part, Forrester Consulting recommends doing so, whether your business is B2C or B2B.

However, it’s a complicated job to execute such a strategy, and you need to determine if your business can really thrive in the face of omnichannel complexity. It can also be expensive, so consider whether your company has the resources to invest in developing and supporting the requisite channels and whether you’re likely to earn an adequate return on your investment.

If you’re in retail, for example, IBM notes that The Rising Costs of Fulfillment are a “hidden cost of the omnichannel model.” 

“Retailers have seen a 300 percent increase in the cost-to-serve for omnichannel customers,” offers Big Blue, in part because “today’s omnichannel retail environment has made possible every scenario a customer could require—and put retailers on the hook for delivering every combination flawlessly, each and every time.”

Omnichannel Opportunity: Large and Getting Larger

At the same time, it’s undeniable that those who successfully execute an omnichannel strategy have much to gain.

Brand Quarterly states, “Thanks to the Internet, mobile phones and the proliferation of social media, we live in an omnichannel environment where consumers are almost always susceptible to marketing communications. This opens up a whole world of opportunities for marketers that are keen to think creatively about how they interact with their audiences, and when done correctly it can be incredibly effective.”4

One option is to start small, using data and your experience to determine how customers navigate your existing channels. McKinsey & Company suggest developing customer personas—“four to six major personas is usually enough to cover 80 percent of [your] customer base”—that reveal the behavior of your typical customers. Once you understand the need and follow the steps that your customers take—both online and offline—opportunities for omnichannel initiatives should begin to reveal themselves.

Ultimately, though, you need to close the loop between your different channels. As a Neustar Marketing white paper puts it: “It’s impossible to understand consumers … or optimize for the best results without a unified view of consumer interactions across all channels…. Success in one channel plus success in another channel does not equal omnichannel success. To offer a standout customer experience and maximize marketing ROI, you must be able to look at campaign success for a target audience across all channels.”5

1 Number of network-connected devices per person around the world from 2003 to 2020, Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/678739/forecast-on-connected-devices-per-person/ 

2 Customer Data Platforms Bring Omnichannel Choreography Within Reach, https://www.cmswire.com/digital-experience/customer-data-platforms-bring-omnichannel-choreography-within-reach/ 

3 Customer Data Platforms and the New Omnichannel Journey, Redpoint Global, https://www.redpointglobal.com/blog/customer-data-platforms-new-omnichannel-journey/ 

4 Re-Engaging Your Customers With Data Management Platforms,  Brand Quarterly, http://www.brandquarterly.com/re-engaging-customers-data-management-platforms  

5 Whitepaper: The Omnichannel Data Management Platform, Neustar Marketing, https://www.marketing.neustar/resources/whitepapers/omnichannel-dmp-whitepaper

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