Marketers have always had an understanding of what it takes to run campaigns across multiple channels. However, being omnichannel is a different proposition.
“Customers engage brands via mobile apps, as well as desktop and mobile web apps on a daily basis,” says Derek Strong, general manager, North America for OtherLevels.
“More than 60% of adults use at least two devices every day. Increasingly, these customers start an activity on one device and end it on another. For instance, customers may search for products on a mobile phone while on the go and complete the purchase on their laptop at home later that evening.
“Brands must be able to develop one-to-one customer relationships through delivering contextually relevant and personalised experiences based on how users engage with them. This is an imperative in enabling marketers to create emotional connections with their customers.”
As we’ve established in previous chapters, the business imperative of omnichannel has been well broadcast for several years now. Yet when it comes to omnichannel marketing, not all marketers feel they’re in a position to meet the demand.
Despite 95% of marketers agreeing that some form of omnichannel strategy is important to their organisation, only 39% feel they have the ability to recognise where a prospect is on the customer journey. Of primary concern is that 27% of marketers claim to lack confidence in their ability to deliver “the right message, at the right time, to the right prospect”.
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Part of this concern lies with simply not having the capacity to cover the increasing number of consumer communication channels in which to market to.
“Omnichannel marketing means being on Facebook Messenger for KLM, or being on Tinder if you want young voters to register for the European Referendum,” says Ashley Bolser, founder and managing director of Bolser Agency. “Gone are the days of simple broadcast TV or expensive direct mail; now marketing needs to be multi-touch, simple, channel sensitive and aware of its audience.”
However, being an omnichannel marketer also requires cultural change that can’t be driven by the marketing function alone.
“As we’ve seen with our approach to technology integration, brands must break down organisational silos and collaborate more in order to design a unified customer experience to best support omnichannel marketing,” Strong adds.
“Organisations must have a unified customer experience strategy that spans IT, analytics, content, mobile/web marketing and product teams. In retail, for instance, ecommerce and marketing teams must work closely together. Customers increasingly expect offers and promotions to be targeted directly to their unique preferences, interests, and buying behaviours.”
For brands of all sizes, this is a complex requirement. To become an omnichannel brand means integrating business processes, and blurring the lines between sales, customer experience, customer engagement and operations.
But to become an omnichannel marketer means getting to grips with how customers might communicate with each of the respective parts of the business, regardless of the stage in their buying cycle.
“It is perfectly normal behaviour for consumers to take different roads to get to their destination in the omnichannel world,” says Nicola Millard, lead customer experience consultant for BT.
“The challenge (for marketers) is to make sure that these journeys don’t take customers down channel cul-de-sacs. They may need signposting en-route and reassurance that they are heading in the right direction – especially important for channels like social media because it may not be appropriate to put personal details into a public space. Signposting shouldn’t stop with the digital world, though. Using technologies that help consumers find things in physical spaces that they have already viewed online could cut out the whole experience of running up and down aisles.”
The Oasis paradigm
In this respect, many marketers look to retail for omnichannel marketing innovation. In the UK, fashion brand, Oasis is regularly cited as a leader in the field.
Customers increasingly expect offers and promotions to be targeted directly to their unique preferences, interests, and buying behaviours
Kat Rutherford, on Insider Trends, explains what makes Oasis’s marketing stand-out: “Using a beautifully directed website, users see focussed and visually-driven curated content, which provides context and drives desire to imagine the clothes within their everyday lifestyle much like a magazine,” says.
“This relatable content is backed up by bespoke features such as the ‘Seek and Send’ option which helps search the entire Oasis inventory for a much-coveted item which can then be delivered directly to a users’ door. In store, staff are equipped with iPads to give up to the moment advice on availability – and order online for the customer for necessary.
“Oasis are also one of the few outlets that have succeeded in continuing to drive interest in immersive, social media-driven competitions. [In the above example], shoppers can get involved to win prizes and connect with other users just like them who are wearing and doing the same things, creating the impression of a brand going far beyond the static to show what they’re all about.”
Whilst this provides an example of engaging customers across different channels, Saima Alibhai, practice manager, professional services for Bronto Software also believes that marketers have to think omnichannel when it comes to customers that are disengaged.
“Don’t view an abandoned online basket as a lost opportunity – make it a core part of the omnichannel strategy. Research revealed that 40% of shoppers are using the shopping cart to store items as they move between devices and channels.
“Identify how and where consumers continue their shopping and use this information in your digital strategy to bring the customer back. This is also a chance to link to the offline world by providing a list of nearby bricks and mortar stores that have the particular items in stock and detailing any relevant offers that might encourage the customer to complete their purchase there. It comes down to maximising all the channels available to deliver the most relevant messaging to the customer that will result in securing the sale.”
In order to get to the same position as brand leaders such as Oasis, however, Derek Strong argues that marketers must have certain components at their disposal, including:
- Being able to directly attribute results to individual customer activity in order to deliver on omnichannel campaigns.
- Having the right tools and technology in place to capture individual customer data and create a strategy with the ability to deliver personalised, omnichannel campaigns optimised to each customer’s behaviour.
- In order to engage customers at an individual level and create that emotional connection, marketers must be able to reach 100% of their audience with their messaging in a manner that optimises engagement.
- They must be able to reach and retarget known customers and anonymous “guest” customers at the right time.
- Their marketing automation and message delivery solution must have the ability to message, and retarget customers across existing traditional digital marketing message types like email and SMS, as well as newer second generation messaging types like push notifications (including location based messaging), and in-app messaging in the forms of interstitials and rich inbox messages across mobile apps, and mobile web and desktop web applications, based on their engagement with each campaign.
Many of these aspects are reliant on the cultural aspects previously mentioned, and increasingly, having the right technology in place.
“Brands should assess whether they have all of the required data warehouse, CRM and marketing automation systems and capabilities in place to allow them to communicate across all channels to reach 100% of their audience and drive engagement and loyalty,” he adds. “System and solution gaps should be filled that are preventing communication in all channels, so that brands can start to reach 100% of their audience on all channels.
“Marketers and analysts can then analyse user behaviour from these solutions, and test to optimise messaging in all channels based on customer behaviour. This will also help identify the similarities and difference in your customer behaviour across the channels to define your omnichannel marketing strategy.”
About Chris Ward
Chris is Editor of MyCustomer. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News. He joined MyCustomer in 2014.