Marketer as Mind Reader

It’s no longer enough for marketers to influence customers or attempt to change their behaviors. Today, marketers also have to be mediums. They must foresee what customers want and when, and then predict how they can be there at that moment of truth to deliver.

This psychic ability is omnichannel marketing. And it’s no wonder that it’s currently more vision than reality. Getting there requires breaking down data silos and functional silos, thinking from the customer’s perspective, and in some cases, reorganizing marketing teams (see “Rethinking Marketing’s Org Chart in an Omnichannel World,” page 14). It also requires using data as connective tissue—that is, taking learnings from one channel and applying them to others—all to achieve that Holy Grail of delivering the right message at the right time to the right customer (see “The Omnichannel Data Opportunity,” page 8). It’s more about being omnipresent than omnichannel. Like the old VISA slogan, “It’s everywhere you want to be.”

Consumers don’t think in channels
During a recent conversation about ommichannel with Ashley Johnston, SVP, global marketing at Experian Marketing Services, she said, “People don’t wake up and say, ‘I’m going to be a mobile consumer today.’ They just use the channel that best fits the moment or task.”

True. And predicting what that channel, moment, and task will be is exactly the challenge. As much as marketers would like to be everywhere at all times, doing so is rarely cost-effective or practical. Omnichannel marketing can be the answer to optimizing the who, where, and when for the greatest likelihood of success (i.e. a customer action, such as a conversion, purchase, or share). That’s why Marketo’s Chandar Pattabhiram, group VP, product and corporate marketing, prefers to call it optichannel marketing; it’s about finding the optimal channels.

One company successfully moving in the direction of omnichannel marketing is Fresh Direct. Like many of the online grocer’s customers, my decision to use its mobile app to grocery shop is usually spontaneous. I throw a few things in my cart as I realize I need them, get home and check around my kitchen to see whether I’ve missed anything, and then use my laptop to complete my order (though I have placed complete orders from my phone). Fresh Direct doesn’t wait until I’m checking out to pop up the familiar (and often blasé) retail query, “Find everything OK?” No, it makes recommendations all along the purchase process, using past purchase and other behavior data to be relevant.  It also sends emails with ideas, recipes, and specials—often related to the season or an upcoming holiday. The online grocer continues the thread on social where it proactively presents content and specials, as well as quickly responds to queries. And it doesn’t end there. It also provides an app that lets customers add items to their cart from recipes they find online. Even its trucks are a touchpoint; they’re rolling billboards that serve as reminders to customers to place their next order.

For me, Fresh Direct is everywhere I need it to be when I need it, without being intrusive or invasive. And, although it doesn’t have the added complexity of retail locations, the online grocer does use data to inform how it can be omnipresent across the channels its customers do use.

Is this type of marketing in your future?

Looking for the complete PDF? Find it here.


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