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What are the barriers to omnichannel marketing - and how do we overcome them?

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10th Sep 2015
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Over the last five years, the way that brands are communicating with their customers has fundamentally changed. Instead of adopting a single channel, or even multichannel approach, businesses must now offer a truly seamless experience across all devices. Rather than tailoring their approach to multiple individual touch-points, the latest digital marketers are breaking down these out-dated silos and are providing customers with a single coherent view of their brand - delivering the right message, at the right time, and to the right person. Due to its ‘omnipresent’ nature, this highly effective strategy has widely become known as ‘omnichannel marketing’.

While omnichannel marketing has been widely discussed within both the digital and ecommerce community, new research conducted in partnership with EPiServer suggests that many marketers still feel uncertain about their ability to offer a truly omnichannel approach. According to the research findings, despite 95% of marketers agreeing that some form of multi-channel strategy is important for their organisation, only 39% felt they had the ability to recognise where a prospect was on the customer journey. In addition to this, 27% of marketers claimed to lack confidence in their ability to deliver “the right message, at the right time, to right prospect”.

From these statistics it is clear that while marketers want to benefit from an omnichannel strategy, they remain unsure of how to implement such a complex approach. This uncertainty is the result of three key hurdles in the marketing process:

1. The content conundrum

Faced with pressure from both customers and search engines to improve the quality of their content, marketers have found themselves in a Catch 22 scenario. For every significant improvement in content quality, the expectations of customers have shifted ever closer towards perfection. As it stands, customers most prefer to go to website (80%), closely followed by email (77%) and social media (58%) to get information. These expectations - combined with an ever-growing array of new platforms to develop on - are squeezing marketing budgets for everything they’re worth.

The average B2C businesses already use as many as 6 different types of content ranging from social media posts, articles, guides, videos to games within their marketing approach. For B2B brands, this figure jumps to 14! As this number grows, the ability to serve the right content across all touchpoints becomes ever more unrealistic. Therefore, the key is to create personalised content that addresses each customers’ interests, needs and pain points, and have the right marketing technology in place to make it easy to optimise any form of content across different channels.

2. The marketing technology disconnect

The oft-discussed "battle” between marketing and IT is still raging on to this day, from ownership to operation

As it stands, only 42% of the marketing-driven technology decisions are being jointly made by both marketing and IT. While marketing continues to own much of the digital debate (around 49% of decisions are made solely by marketing), a greater degree of collaboration is required to be a success. This lack of collaboration is having a significant impact upon their ability to deliver a smooth omnichannel experience, with 51% of marketers claimed to be unable to react to new channels and devices due to out-dated tech, and almost half (49%) have to go to IT when they need to add, manage or edit content on their websites.

To solve these issues, brands such as Varner Group have launched their own digital media teams to help bridge the gap between marketing and technology. The main focus of such teams is to improve customer experience, making them ultimately responsible for coordinating the requirements of front-end, back-end, design, UX and checkout optimisation.

3. A deluge of data

In the age of Big Data analytics, marketers are flooded with information that could improve their services and ultimately turn potential prospects into long-term customers.

Unfortunately, however, although the data exists, most marketers still don’t know how best to use it. For some, this is simply down to a lack of tools with 36% of businesses still not using a CRM and 62% having no marketing automation tools in place.

As a result of this lack of data and understanding, 61% of marketers were unable to recognise where a prospect was on their customer journey and where to take them next. A good example of a brand that tackles this issue head on is Pizza Hut, which relies on tight integration between its various different platforms (website, email, CRM, POS, booking engine, etc.). This combined approach helps the brand to create a single customer view, while also using customer data from all of its platforms to engage diners on a 1-to-1 level. With location and profile data, the business is able to send out highly targeted offers based on location, weather and time of day, as well as serving personalised content such as previous menu choices.

While all of these technologies provide significant benefits to the brand, it is important to remember that such technology is not necessarily for everyone. Technology is not a solution but an enabler, and no single technology can solve all your marketing problems. Companies should take a best of breed approach and build a digital marketing ecosystem with the right ingredients.

Until marketers overcome these businesses and customer experience will continue to suffer.

Youtse Sung is senior global marketing manager at EPiServer. To find out more about what marketers are struggling with, read the ‘Multichannel Digital Marketing Report 2015’.

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