Three Ways Collaboration Catalyzes Omnichannel Marketing

At this point, many—maybe even most—marketers recognize the importance of omnichannel marketing. “In today’s world, marketers must pursue an omnichannel marketing strategy to reach their target audience, because the truth is that none of us operate on just one channel,” says Patrick Barrett, founder and CEO of communications platform ECAL. “With so much content and so many devices, an omnichannel approach is the only way to go.”

From an internal point of view, Barrett’s rhetoric broaches on industry consensus. Consumers are highly connected, and leave footprints from their digital travels as they trek through cyberspace. As digital culture matures and further solidifies itself as the norm, consumers have grown to expect businesses to recognize them based on their digital footprint, at least as it pertains to the individual companies they communicate with. Marketers understand this expectation. Yet, for as pervasive as omnichannel theory has become, true omnichannel practices still exist on the fringe of the customer experience spectrum.

“Yes, omnichannel marketing practices have started to take root, but in many cases it has yet to bear fruit,” notes Glen Hartman, global managing director of digital transformation at marketing consulting company Accenture Interactive. But why? Why are some marketers struggling to meet the omnichannel challenge, despite growing pressure from the market? The reasons are many and varied, often influenced by a brand’s particular industry or product. One truth that seems to ring beyond industry barriers is the existence of barriers in the business itself.

“One big challenge is to overcome the siloed approach that we still find in many companies to advance the perception of what customer experience is today and what it can be,” Hartman says. “[Marketers] need to break down internal silos and align IT resources, operations, and finance with the CMO,” adds Renee Badura, VP of omnichannel sales strategy at printing company Quad/Graphics. Indeed, addressing rifts in corporate communication and structure could prove key in realizing omnichannel marketing on an industry level. Here are a few ways to facilitate that change.

Listen to your market

This point cannot be stressed enough. In order to address consumers’ concerns on any level, marketers must understand those concerns, and the root causes that they spawn from. This can only be achieved by fervently keeping an ear to the ground, and a few fingers on the pulse of the community. “Even in a time of crisis, when the experience is poor and the process breaks down, consumers are forgiving when you listen and communicate,” Barrett says. “Listen to, and understand the voice of, your customer.”

Unify teams and systems

“Since most companies have multiple departments publishing consumer-facing content, there are multiple opportunities for inconsistencies in many areas—including readability, tone of voice, use of brand names, and jargon,” notes Steve Rotter, CMO at software platform Acrolinx.

To meet consumers’ high expectations for consistency and relevancy, marketers must make sure the company encourages collaboration on the logistic and technical level, as well as the macro, strategy level. “Savvy marketers [are] implementing systems that connect a unified view of their business’ inventory across stores, e-commerce, and mobile to provide the customer with a seamless fulfillment experience on their terms,” Badura notes.

Ensure top-down support

Junior- and senior-level marketers can work as hard toward omnichannel as they dare, but organizational silos will not crumble, and corporate vision will not change without early support from the C-suite. In many cases the CMO will need to foster a collaborative relationship with the CIO, and even the COO of the organization. “To break up silos between customer service, marketing, and sales, CMOs need to work more closely with CIOs and COOs. They need to make a strong case for the customer lifecycle to be recognized as an infinite loop of engagement across loyalty, marketing, sales, and service,” Accenture Interactive’s Hartman explains.

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