A person at their desk with multiple computers and mobile devices
An omnichannel experience creates a seamless experience for customers across multiple touchpoints. PHOTO: Shutterstock

The omnichannel customer experience is proving to be the key to the consumer’s heart — and wallet. A report by the Aberdeen Group suggests that brands with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement retain approximately 89 percent of their customers, in comparison to 33 percent of brands with a weaker omnichannel strategy.

However, executing omnichannel marketing campaigns and experiences can be expensive, which ultimately leads brands to have to decide; how “omni” should we go?

CMSWire, with the assistance of leading industry experts and practitioners, looks at how far brands should go to deliver a successful omnichannel campaign.

How Should Brands Approach Their Omnichannel Strategy?

Before strategizing your omnichannel campaign, you need to identify how your customers are trying to reach out to you and through what device or touchpoint, advised David Thompson, CMO at Freshworks. This can be achieved by conducting a “simple data analysis” of your web, app, and social media logs, and familiarizing yourself with the queries and questions your target market is likely to generate.

Once the channels have been identified, brands must then “figure out” the “right engagement strategy” across the chosen channels, which Thompson has described as rather difficult. “Each channel comes with different expectations. Consumers expect phone calls to be answered pronto, while WhatsApp and other messaging platforms come with expectations that answers may come later.”

Related Article: Where Testing Fits in Your Omnichannel Experiences

Build Great Personas and Use Them

Thompson added that the focus of your omnichannel strategy should be on persona-based marketing. “Apply your best persona-based marketing to [your chosen] combination of channels in order to match personality type and consumer expectations to your ability to execute cross-channel customer engagement,” Thompson said.

Get Your Experience Right First

Instead of worrying about their device and touchpoint coverage, Michael Osborne, CEO at SmarterHQ, advised brands to focus on improving the delivery of their experience first. “Brands should focus on getting their experiences right [rather than] worrying about coverage across every permutation of current technology or the latest releases of new platforms,” Osborne said.

Related Article: Customer Data Platforms Put Omnichannel Within Reach for Small Retailers

Be Mobile-First, But Don’t Ignore Other Channels

According to Jack Philbin, CEO at Vibes, mobile devices should be the main focus of a brand’s omnichannel strategy. “Mobile is the device that brands need to focus on as it is the epicenter of the consumer experience and the key to creating the personalized experience consumers demand. The mobile 'umbrella' includes reaching customers through apps, messaging, push notifications, mobile wallets and even conversational commerce via chatbot in messaging apps,” he said.

However, while mobile is the “epicenter” of omnichannel customer experience, Philbin highlighted the importance of brands having a presence on every channel. “Today, brands must be present across all channels to maximize customer reach as consumers are now sliced into micro-segments, and it’s our jobs as marketers to get through. For instance, while I believe that all brands need an app, there will always be a large number of people who don’t download your app, and you have to reach them through another channel.”

Focus on Every Device and Platform or Just a Few?

A crucial aspect of delivering a successful omnichannel customer experience is to be available on various touchpoints and devices that your consumer expects you to be but there are challenges. This includes mobile apps, voice-activated speakers, smartwatches, and more. “An integral part of [the omnichannel customer experience] is being where your customers are, and where they expect you to be, too. While market over-saturation is always a risk, brands that aim for a true omnichannel experience should hit every touchpoint and device they need to. Brands with too narrow a focus risk overlooking key market segments,” said Bertram Schulte, chief digital officer at SAP.

Schulte added that for his organization it's mission-critical that customers can find the brands they want to engage with and buy from, wherever said customer is and prefers to do business. "This is why it’s important for brands to be on multiple devices and touchpoints — so long as they can reach the customers they are aiming for, this makes sense for customer retention and business growth," he said.

However, while it is crucial to deliver experiences across multiple touchpoints and devices, Nancy Dobrozdravic, marketing vice president at Aspect Software, explained that delivering to every possible channel is costly. Brands should consider the “most popular” channel first and then expand. “For most organizations, [true omnichannel marketing] is cost prohibitive, not to mention unnecessary, to offer customer engagement on every possible channel. [Instead], the type of [channel] most popular among your customers should be considered first; and only then should the channel or channels be identified that make completing that interaction as quick and easy as possible,” Dobrozdravic said.

Osborne agreed adding that, “... choose the ones that cover the majority of your customers’ interactions and make sure the experience you deliver is outstanding."