Go Omni or Go Home: Why Omnichannel Marketing Matters
We recently covered in this blog the importance of an effective and flexible customer journey, and one of the most critical elements of this journey is a thoughtful omnichannel strategy. Without appropriate context, the term “omnichannel” can sound daunting, but marketers should not be afraid of this essential method for driving a unified customer experience. Simply put, in an era where a customer’s experience requires the management of a broad range of mediums and environments, an omnichannel strategy enables the marketer to engage with customers in a single, unified, and compelling voice. But how does an organization make the move towards an omnichannel presence, and drive the strategy effectively?
Before diving in, let’s be clear that omnichannel is NOT simply pushing marketing messages in multiple channels. Disparate voices through multiple channels can create a confusing customer experience, and too often cause more harm than good. However, by creating a consistent, high-quality customer experience across all platforms – with a unified look, feel, and voice that is validated by data – marketers can dramatically enhance the customer journey and their ability to secure and retain loyal customers.
Why omnichannel matters
Amidst a marketing landscape with so much noise, an omnichannel strategy allows brands to break through the noise and stand out among consumers, often creating differentiation based on the customer experience, rather than on price and other value-diminishing factors. This consistent experience and relationship with the brand helps drives customer loyalty while reducing price sensitivity.
One example of a company that has successfully applied an omnichannel strategy is Disney. From the mobile interface to the web to the in-person experience, the Disney brand transcends all mediums in its voice, look, and message. The result is an experience that becomes fully immersive for the customer no matter what channel they are interacting with, ultimately creating raving fans and brand loyalists. A consistent strategy across all mediums also enables Disney to track every customer’s journey with pinpoint accuracy and real-time data, regardless of channel.
While Disney is unique in its omnichannel success, the opportunity for all brands is real and increasingly important when looking at the blurred lines between online and offline sales. In fact, while ecommerce continues to grow, 92% of US retail sales still happen offline. Furthermore, very few customers shop exclusively either online or offline, suggesting that omnichannel is essential for a unified voice and brand experience for every major customer persona. A recent McKinsey study found that an effective omnichannel strategy leads to a 25-50% increase in sales, while the operational savings can be significant if companies effectively scale internal operations through the lens of the customer experience, rather than rely on outdated organizational silos.
Making an omnichannel strategy a reality
A meaningful and sustainable omnichannel strategy requires more than a consistent brand, and demands the acceptance of large-scale, company-wide transformation.
First, for an omnichannel strategy to be successful, one must implement a customer-centric strategy that optimizes for the overall customer experience, and not any one specific channel.
Secondly, this strategy must be backed by compelling data that supports the top use-cases, understands typical and ideal customer interactions, and is channel agnostic to ensure integration with any application. And data is only as valuable as the speed at which it can be leveraged, so giving business teams access to this data will allow them to move from insights to action in minutes.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is to implement broad changes within an organization to ensure an ingrained and truly strategic omnichannel approach. A key element in any effective omnichannel strategy is recognizing that consumers’ perceptions are set at the brand level, not by your company’s internal departments. For this reason, organizational agility and the creation of cross-functional teams with the customer experience in mind is paramount in any effort to build a sustained omnichannel strategy.
The omnichannel battle plan
For an omnichannel strategy to be successful, marketing leadership must be prepared to fundamentally transform their business strategy, use of technology, and organizational structure. Equally important is the recognition that omnichannel is always evolving and can never be simply defined or categorized. For this reason, organizations that want to implement a truly successful omnichannel strategy must embrace flexibility, speed, and the intelligent and fast evaluation of marketing data. Seamlessly assessing all channels and personas in real time through technology will provide immediate validation when adopting an omnichannel strategy. By capturing a full picture of a brand’s omnichannel presence, marketers can be that much more certain of a successful customer journey from start to finish.
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