Consumers expect to be able to interact and transact with companies however they please, based on their own channel preferences. For marketers, this expectation can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on the degree to which they’re able to succeed with their omnichannel marketing initiatives.
The good news is that technology solutions are becoming increasingly sophisticated and today can go a long way toward enabling many key aspects of omnichannel marketing. As data continues to grow exponentially, an omnichannel marketing infrastructure can provide ways to automate routine tasks, including campaign development, and improve analytics, giving marketers the opportunity to focus on important customer-value decisions.
The benefits of being able to centrally manage the design, execution and measurement of marketing campaigns across a multitude of both offline and online channels are obvious. Unfortunately, many companies today are only part way toward reaching that destination because they are failing to take advantage of next-generation technology platforms.
In fact, according to The 2016 Benchmark Report on Omnichannel Marketing, released last month by Starfleet Research, more than half (54%) of companies continue to rely on channel-specific technologies to manage campaigns that straddle two or more channels, no matter that top-performing companies are more than twice as likely as others (76% compared to 34%) to leverage a single technology to support their multi-channel campaign management activities. More than half (52%) of all organizations that don’t currently use an integrated solution indicate that they plan to adopt one within the next 12 months.
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One of the most compelling reasons for wanting to do so relates to increasing revenue and customer profitability. Nothing matters more when it comes to making the case for any kind of technology-enabled technology investment. Marketers understand that presenting more relevant offers and messages at every customer touchpoint can provide a pathway for driving increased revenue, profitability and lifetime customer value. They also believe that omnichannel marketing can translate into greater overall visibility for the brand and a greater likelihood that consumers at different stages of the buying cycle will engage with the brand when they are ready to make a purchase decision.
A multichannel marketing strategy does not in and of itself provide a seamless customer relationship. If only if were so easy. Nor does merely having the right technology platform in place guarantee success. Omnichannel marketing is achieved through a combination of people, processes and technologies.
Multiple factors influence the customer experience. One of them is the way in which the different channels work together to create a sense of brand cohesiveness. Omnichannel marketing capabilities are a must-have for closing those gaps and helping to ensure customers toggling between channels enjoy a positive and consistent experience with the brand.
One need not be a marketing genius to recognize that a positive and consistent experience with the brand will invariable lead to an increase in customer retention. Also, the more companies can personalize their relationships with each individual customer, the more likely they are to increase the value of their most profitable customers.
Personalizing relationships may be relatively easy to do on a small, localized scale, but an omnichannel strategy and robust platform capabilities that can turn big data into actionable insights across every channel is a prerequisite to achieving this goal on a larger scale. Of course, personalizing relationships and delivering favorable customer experiences via an omnichannel presence should also result in increased brand advocacy. After all, a compelling multichannel marketing campaign the delivers a positive brand experience almost always gets people talking. And no form of marketing is more valuable than word-of-mouth marketing, especially in this age of social media.
Enhancing the customer experience along with overall marketing improvement largely hinges on the ability to generate customer knowledge. This knowledge comes from the collection, integration and enhancement of customer data across multiple channels and the application of analytic techniques to glean insights from the data. Some of these techniques are relatively new to the marketing arena while others have been practiced by traditional direct marketers for decades in their relentless efforts to translate customer information into more effective marketing campaign outcomes.
An omnichannel marketing strategy along with the requisite platform capabilities makes it possible to eliminate bottlenecks and logjams in data analysis and bridge the gaps between channels to ensure that all interactions are included in a single, holistic customer view. This paves the way for delivering more relevant marketing messages and offers, with the fluid ability to adjust the message as the customer history changes and also as the customer switches from one channel to another.