By Daniel Newman – Co-CEO of V3B & BroadSuite Media Group and Contributing Writer.
Omni-channel marketing has obtained buzzword status in the marketing world these days. However, it’s not just the next big thing, it’s an important aspect of the buying cycle and more businesses of all sizes are taking notice. Think about it, you don’t need data, surveys, and statistics to realize that consumers are connecting with brands through multiple channels, such as online, social media, emails, text messages, along with shopping in good old bricks and mortar stores. The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale frenzies are telling signs that the lines between in-store and online channels are becoming increasingly blurred. And people expect brands to allow them to move seamlessly between the different channels.
While most businesses are chasing the idea of being omni-channel, most of them struggle to deliver the right experience. The reason is that rolling out a full-fledged omni-channel strategy is a tall order. The ability to manage all the touchpoints and provide a seamless customer experience across social, mobile, digital, email, direct mail, and new channels that are continuously added, is not something a company can master overnight. This is why the answer for many businesses on how to become omni-channel is to not immediately go omni-channel.
“Omni-channel is multi-channel done right,” says Time Warner Senior VP of Customer Care John Bowden. So what’s the difference between the two? Multi-channel is a more business-centric view of the buying experience, whereas omni-channel is marketing through the eyes of the customer. Now that 95 percent of shoppers use more than one channel, smart marketers are shifting their focus on delivering services on multiple channels. That means figuring out where the consumer starts and anticipating where they will go next. Brands are hard at work trying to identify and measure customer engagement across these multiple channels. The key is for businesses to have a good grip on each channel before stringing them all together.
So for brands looking to move into Omni-Channel marketing, there are a few key considerations. Here are four that every brand should consider when starting their Omni-Channel journey.
Getting a grip on omni-channel marketing requires brands to first focus on taking baby steps to become more connected with their customers in the right places and expanding from there. Starting an omni-channel strategy could actually be more about picking the right channel and the right tools than using everything in the toolbox all at once.
It’s important to gain an insightful view of the customer to get a complete picture of what they like and don’t like, as well as their buying habits, preferences, and how they behave across all channels. This data will help create an enhanced customer experience. By collecting and analyzing relevant customer data, a brand can build buyer personas, which will help them to use the right tools and technology at the right time in the buying cycle. It’s also critical for a business to test out the buying experience they offer through their customer’s eyes. Make sure the experience is seamless, user-friendly, and free of barriers.
Insights derived from various data sets can help brands know their customers better and for today’s marketers, there’s definitely lots of data available. However, having a lot of information is not the same as having the right data. It’s important to figure out which data requires the most attention. A study by Neustar identified the following as five most important consumer data identifiers.
It’s important to take into consideration that your customers’ profiles keep evolving. Customers come and go, their circumstances, location, even jobs all change, and if you don’t pull in new data and refresh the old, you risk relying on outdated data that may be no longer relevant.
You can’t be everywhere and the great thing is you don’t have to be. You just need to be where your customers are. Here are some steps to show which channels are important for you to target:
Being everywhere doesn’t make your brand omni-channel, in fact, if you aren’t doing it right, it might just mean you’re squandering your time, money, and efforts.
To truly leverage the results that omni-channel marketing can bring, it’s important to take small, data driven steps that really connect with your customer, instead of trying to be everywhere, all the time. Brands that deliver a personal experience throughout the buying cycle will be the ones that thrive now and in the future.
Additional Resources On This Topic:
– Multichannel vs. Omnichannel Marketing: Is There a Difference, and What Does It Mean to You?
– Omni-channel and the Mobile Marketing Experience
– Five Ways Agencies Can Solve the Omnichannel Problem
By Daniel Newman – Co-CEO of V3B & BroadSuite Media Group and Contributing Writer at The Marketing Scope, Forbes, Entrepreneur and Social Media Today
Websites: www.v3b.com, www.millennialceo.com; Twitter: @DanielNewmanUV