Omnichannel Marketing and Six Steps to Get There
Omnichannel marketing strategy is now a marketing imperative for customer-centric companies if they want to match their customer expectations and stay in reckoning.
Omnichannel Marketing Defined
Let’s start with the basics first. Yes, omnichannel marketing is different from multichannel marketing. The latter is cumulatively using multiple touch points like websites, mobile apps, social media, email, offline texts etc., rather than just one, as means for business-customer interactions and transactions. Omnichannel marketing is an extension of multichannel in the sense that it preaches for an integration of all these channels so that irrespective of the channel in use, the customer interaction and customer experience is the same. So, whether your customer posts a question on your website or your Twitter handle, you recognize that person as the same person and respond in the same exact way. Omnichannel is just making the experience consistent and seamless for your customers irrespective of the device or touchpoint they are using.
Coming back to formulating a safe transition path for your business, here’s our list of the things to do before switching to an omnichannel marketing strategy. In the preparation of the list,we have assumed that you have the basic business-customer interaction points like a website, mobile app etc. already in place.
1. Omnichannel Marketing Requires Organizational Will and Direction
This should be the first one on your checklist. No new strategy will work in the long term if it doesn’t have the patronage of the top management of the company. Adoption of omnichannel marketing is a paradigm shift and not just an assembly of tools for a particular job. It will require a change in company culture precisely because it will require top notch coordination and integration between various departments of your company and individual teams handling individual channels. Omnichannel marketing may not be immediately effective, but in the long term, it will reap returns and it is important that your strategy doesn’t fizzle out due to a lack of top level support.
2. Omnichannel Marketing Requires Identity Leverage
Well, you might already be doing this but we’ll put this on the checklist anyway. Identity is the key which will open you a world of opportunities in digital business. Besides, it’s the only way you can enable your touchpoints to interact with customers and engage them on a regular basis. In simpler terms, you should have the capabilities to support account creation for your customers on your primary touchpoint (most commonly, the website and mobile app). But that’s not enough. It is imperative that your Customer Identity and Access Management is effective allowing you to convert faster, store more customer data and improve your customer experience.
3. Omnichannel Marketing Requires Contextual Customer Data
Capturing customer data is one of the keys to contextual marketing. But that doesn’t mean you capture anything and everything that comes your way. Capture data points that you actually need and will use in your analysis of customer behavior. Every customer segment behaves and responds differently. You can’t market a kitchen appliance in the same way to a 25 years old single guy and a 35 years old homemaker. Their perspectives would differ. Your marketing should be designed on the basis of your target audience’s perspectives. Hence, ability to build rich customer profiles and collecting relevant data points which can give you an insight into their perspectives is a useful preparation for implementing an omnichannel strategy.
4. Omnichannel Marketing is Built on the Idea of the Single Customer View
This is a critical step for you to take on the path to omnichannel marketing. According to an Econsultancy and Adobe research, management of data is the single biggest barrier to omnichannel marketing. The study found that, in 2016, about 51% companies have separate and non-connected technologies managing data for different channels. If your company is doing this in 2016, it means your thinking is miles behind that of your customers. Yup, that’s 100% true. Like we said, newer marketing trends come into existence because consumers want companies to work that way. Going back to the Econsultancy and Adobe study, only about 5% companies have a single platform to manage data from across multiple channels. Naturally, you must thinking this is advanced technology which is why so few companies are doing it but, no. On the contrary, it’s quite simple. All you need to do is deploy a data centralization platform – or data integration platform – which can ingest customer data from all your touchpoints and store in a single customer profile. In many ways, it also implies having the Single Customer View. In fact, the Single Customer View is the essence of omnichannel marketing as we have discussed in a previous post on this blog. The good thing is that an effective Customer Identity and Access Management platform will double up as a data centralization platform creating a single account for each individual customer across multiple channels. It is noteworthy here that channels are not just online. The blend must include offline channels like brick and mortar stores as well accepting offline transaction histories and integrating the same with the individual customer profile. Do this and you’ll be a part of that top 5%, and on your way to following omnichannel marketing trends.
5. Omnichannel Marketing Requires a Highly Integrated Marketing Stack
A disintegrated marketing stack will not get you anywhere. You could have all the brilliant applications top tech companies around the world sell but unless all of them work in tandem, you will only get mixed results in short term and poor results in the long term. Every application you use to market your product is a part of your marketing stack and they should all blend like ingredients in a milkshake. But which part is the milk? Undoubtedly, your Customer Identity and Access Management platform should be milk in your marketing milkshake distributing data across all marketing applications you employ. As already mentioned, it can double up as a data centralization platform and essentially because of that ability, it can hold all customer data and talk to other applications giving out data and updating customer profiles in line with inputs from those same marketing applications. While doing this, it is also important that you avoid inter-channel and marketing conflicts.
6. Omnichannel Marketing Requires the Same Level of Customer Understanding Across Different Teams in an Organization
Many companies still continue to make the mistake of keeping customer support teams aloof from marketing efforts. There are compelling reasons why this is a mistake companies should immediately correct. For instance, let’s say you have a couple of websites, a mobile app, and active social media presence. Let’s say one of your registered customers has a query with respect to his account. Now, whether he raises the query through one of his website accounts, through the mobile app, or through Twitter, the response should be same. And this is impossible unless your customer support teams are aware of their marketing counterparts’ activities and the customer relationship lifecycle and events in it. A disjointed customer support team will have partial knowledge giving inconsistent answers leading customer disgruntlement. This is exactly what you don’t want. Customer expect quick, accurate and contextual answers to their queries and the person responsible for giving the answers can do a good job only when he or she has the complete context and information. If you do this on one occasion, you create a good user experience. If you do this continuously and consistently across all of your touchpoints, you create a good customer experience.
This may not be the most definitive list of prerequisites for omnichannel marketing. But, we are pretty sure we covered all the essentials to give you a head start.
The first thing you should do now is start the omnichannel initiative in your business. Remember, what was luxury yesterday is mainstream requirement today and is something you cannot ignore for all.