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Five tips for elevating your omnichannel strategy: Be your own CMO

By Gregg Turek, Digital Marketing Manager, Selligent Marketing Cloud

Everyone talks about omnichannel marketing, but few marketers are really doing it right. According to current research, 91 percent of retailers and brands have an omnichannel strategy – or plan to adopt one.[1]

But when asked about the quality of the omnichannel experiences they are delivering, 48 percent of marketers rated their efforts “average,” 14 percent “poor,” and six percent “very poor.” Only 25 percent scored themselves as delivering “good” omnichannel customer experiences.[2]

The main reason for these shortcomings is that many marketers aren’t thinking strategically about omnichannel, which manifests in two major ways:

a) They are not working with other departments/parts of the business, and

b) They’re isolating their efforts to only one or two channels.

In this view, marketers look at different channels as separate options to be used; more arrows in the marketing quiver (and only the marketing department gets to play with these arrows). But this approach is more along the lines of “multi-channel” than omnichannel.

What makes omnichannel unique, is that it treats marketing channels like instruments in an orchestra. Each can play solo – and carry the tune alone if needed – but they mostly play together harmoniously to deliver a coherent experience. In successful omnichannel marketing, some channels play the overtures, others the grand finale of the customer journey. But they all play from the same sheet.

Omnichannel strategy makes all the difference

The key to delivering a harmonious omnichannel experience is strategy. Well-planned, strategic omnichannel marketing makes everyone on your marketing team a CMO, or the orchestra conductor in our analogy. Your marketing cloud platform and tech stack have empowered you with the software, technology and tools to make it happen.

Now you need to use these instruments and execute on them. Here are five tips for taking a strategic approach to your omnichannel marketing:

1. Utilize your customer’s data and behaviors. How do customers choose to engage with your brand? What is their path across channels in specific use cases? Are they having a consistent experience in key areas like product discovery, troubleshooting, and customer service? This step requires breaking down data silos in your organization and optimizing your data architecture towards seamless capture across online and offline touchpoints. Customer data platforms (CDPs) have been created for the distinct purpose of sharing real-time intelligence across the entire organization (also read our blog story on CDPs).

2. Plan journeys and campaigns from the customer’s perspective. Visualize your journeys and campaigns from an omnichannel perspective, from the beginning of ideation to completion. What does the customer need at what stage of the journey, and what channel is best suited to deliver it? Use your data-based insights (see 1.) to create integrated experiences and deliver the right message at the right time and on the right device.

3. Provide consistency based on context. Omnichannel marketing is all about keeping the customer experience consistent. Maintain your brand voice and corporate identity across channels, but adapt to the customer’s situation and context when it comes to providing answers. Recognizing context can be tricky, especially at scale, but that’s why marketing-specific AI engines can transform your data points into targeted engagement, down to the perfect send time and personalized content for each customer (read our story on how AI delivers relevance at scale).

4. Think beyond engagement. You’ve been doing engagement for years and you’ve become adept at it. Focus on delivering a consistent experience instead, even when the customer is taking the initiative to interact. Does your inbound marketing offer answers where customers expect to find them? Is your content location-optimized and mobile-optimized? And with voice searches projected to account for 30 percent of web searches by 2020 (ComScore), is your brand first in line when consumers engage via voice assistants (read our primer on voice-based marketing)?

5. Optimize omnichannel experiences for minimal effort. Well-planned and strategic omnichannel marketing that utilizes your consumer data becomes more effortless and optimized over time. That’s because it uses data to identify friction points and reduce effort. As consumer data flows into your centralized data repositories (see 1.), it allows for “self-improvement” and “self-optimization” with AI-engines utilizing data and behavior properly.

Get serious about omnichannel strategy

Creating the foundation for harmonious omnichannel experiences may take some effort, perhaps even some investment. Asked about the reason for delivering less-than-optimal omnichannel engagement, 45 percent of brands and retailers named lack of “the right omnichannel technology” as the main reason.[3]

But it’s money well-spent and empowers every marketer on your team to act with CMO-level strategy and efficiency. Looking ahead, the brands delivering seamless customer experiences across channels with apparent ease will be the ones with tightly wound, strategically aligned resources on the back end. If you’re looking to join these brands, now is the time to get serious about omnichannel strategy. 

True omnichannel marketing puts the consumer first, above your product or business goals. Download the free white paper, Omnichannel Marketing Through A Consumer-First Lens, to understand how to implement engagement strategies based on integrity and empathy. Ensure that every communication is meaningful, relevant, and delivered to your customers seamlessly on their preferred channels, at precisely the right time.

[1] The State of Omnichannel Retail. Brightpearl, 2019. Retrieved April 10, 2019, from https://info.brightpearl.com/the-state-of-omnichannel
[2] Omnichannel Marketing: The Key to Unlocking a Powerful Customer Experience. Target Marketing, 2018. Retrieved April 10, 2019, from https://www.targetmarketingmag.com/longform/the-state-of-omnichannel-marketing/
[3] Omnichannel Marketing: The Key to Unlocking a Powerful Customer Experience. Target Marketing, 2018. Retrieved April 10, 2019, from https://www.targetmarketingmag.com/longform/the-state-of-omnichannel-marketing/

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