Omnichannel Represents a Sea Change in Marketing

Sea change. If the phrase feels cliché it may be because it was first used in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Michael McVeigh and Chris Paradysz noted during their keynote at a recent DMCNY event. Major shifts in thinking are nothing new, but that doesn’t make dealing with them any easier.

Omnichannel marketing represents a sea change for marketers, Paradysz, cofounder and co-CEO, and McVeigh, VP of advisory services practices of Paradysz and PM Digital said. Data, analytics, and agility are the tools that marketers need to steer them through it, they added. Prior to omnichannel, marketers used to say, “We need to use X channel” or “We need to improve the results from Y channel.” Now, marketers taking an omnichannel approach say, “How should we go to market?” and, “Which channels should we prioritize?”

The reasons for thinking differently are straightforward, McVeigh and Paradysz said. The more holistic approach of onmichannel marketing helps marketers fight fragmentation, create campaigns from the customer point of view, and drive content creation and delivery based on customer behavior.

Macy’s is one company that’s adopting an omnichannel mind-set, the two said. The retailer is starting to treat its stores as fulfillment centers for online purchases, and encouraging in-store associates to order items that are out-of-stock in the store for customers from its website.

Another driver of onmichannel marketing is, of course, customers. McVeigh and Paradysz pointed to three areas of customer influence: Customers are using more devices, consulting more sources prior to purchase, and demanding seamless experiences. The average time spent on a mobile device is five hours and 46 minutes per day, up from 2.5 hours four years ago, Paradysz said. He also noted that 50% of mobile users shop on their devices, and 90% of users reference multiple devices. What’s more, shoppers search six times on average before making a purchase; they also now consult about 12 sources today, versus five in 2010, he said. And while 32% of conversions begin with mobile, 67% of customers are more likely to convert on a mobile-optimized site.

So how are marketers responding? According to Paradysz, 46% say they’re likely to invest a great deal in omnichannel marketing, and 37% are likely to invest in some.

That doesn’t mean that they’re all rushing to do so. Some marketers “fear the strategic overhaul that omnichannel implies,” Paradysz said.

Data is the key to overcoming that challenge, McVeigh pointed out. Marketers, he said, need analytics and dashboards to help them navigate this shift to omnichannel. These dashboards need to be real time and interactive to give marketers the information they need, when they need it. In other words, they need to pass what he called the Fortune Cookie Test: Are you more likely to open a fortune cookie or a dashboard to get the data that you need to make an informed decision? “If your omnichannel reporting doesn’t pass the Fortune Cookie Test, then it’s time for a new dashboard,” he said.

Paradysz added that agility and flexibility are also essential for omnichannel marketing. Marketers need to devise the right recipe of content and engagement strategies across the right channels, he said, but also need to be willing to adjust the ingredients “to improve that recipe right up to the point of cooking”—and even then continue to make improvements.

So, although this sea change is forcing marketers to ride some tumultuous waves today, data and agility can ensure smooth sailing for the future.

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