With today’s consumers demanding a more consistent experience across all of their devices, many companies are crafting omnichannel marketing strategies to reach their target audiences on more channels, more devices and in different scenarios.
In many cases, however, going omnichannel is about the only thing that marketing teams are doing to provide better digital experiences. We’ve turned to industry experts to find out more about the importance of omnichannel marketing and ways to go beyond it.
What Is Omnichannel Marketing (and Why Is it Vital)?
In a nutshell, omnichannel marketing means delivering consistent brand messaging and digital experience to consumers across channels and touchpoints. “Today, brands must craft the conversations they have with customers,” explained Mike Davidson, executive creative director at Capgemini, “and tie them together across channels.”
At first, companies took a multichannel approach to marketing as more devices and channels became available, but these different channels were siloed. “Service teams owning one channel didn't have a way to know what their colleagues owning a different channel already discussed with the client,” explained Tobias Goebel, VP of product marketing & emerging technologies at Sparkcentral. For many companies, this meant they offered a fragmented and poor experience for their customers.
With an omnichannel approach, however, the channels are mutually aware of each other and operate seamlessly as one.
Is Omnichannel a Silver Bullet?
While omnichannel marketing is essential, it shouldn’t be the end goal for marketing teams. “Just because your marketing and messaging are omnichannel does not mean your experience is good,” said Tony Lanni, head of marketing at Appetize. A consistent experience across channels is one aspect of delivering a compelling customer experience, but many companies fail to go far beyond this.
Davidson agreed, “Modern marketing is much more than getting a message out, it’s experiential and service-driven.” Customers expect their experience to be personalized and intuitive when moving between different channels. “Customers are quickly turned off when they experience a generic handoff from one channel to another,” Davidson added. Marketers, therefore, need to think of omnichannel marketing as a connected series of events that help customers solve their problems.
“Today's customers expect that no matter how they order from you,” Lanni explained, “any one of your staff on any system anywhere should be able to access, modify, and otherwise help them with their order.” In the mind of the consumer, omnichannel is no longer optional, but merely a baseline expectation. Beyond a consistent omnichannel experience, Lanni suggested there are other critical areas companies must consider. “Good design, user-friendly ordering systems, and staff trained to help your customers are the key,” Lanni stated.
Going Beyond Adding More Channels
“The first area where you should invest is around understanding your current customer experience,” Lanni suggested. Find out where customers are having issues and what things annoy them. This means considering the ways customers want to interact with your brand, not just the channels you currently support. “Understanding these types of experiences will paint a clear picture of where you need to invest and make improvements in customer experience,” Lanni said.
Davidson also recommends viewing customer service, brand experience and omnichannel marketing in the same terms. “Understanding the customer as an individual and placing them at the core of an integrated customer service and marketing approach is paramount.” He believes any effort to better connect omnichannel marketing, therefore, is a win for the customer.
According to Goebel, developing successful omnichannel experiences requires collaboration between people, processes and technology. “But rather than investing in new tech, adjusting processes, and then merely ‘training’ the employees on what's new, representatives of all departments need to be involved in all decision-making efforts.” Everyone within the organization needs to be on board when crafting compelling digital experiences.
Davidson also recommends going beyond integrating customer channels to integrating siloed departments internally. You can simplify workflows to reinvent the way your organization handles content and marketing delivery. “By doing so,” he explained, “brands can increase their ability to collaborate across channels thus producing more tailored versions of content.” And personalization is how brands can show their customers that they care about them as individuals. “It’s easy enough to talk about, but [omnichannel] is a major shift in how brands plan, create and deliver marketing,” Goebel said.