The Magic Behind Omni-Channel Marketing Success

I recently returned from my first Disney Cruise with my family, and, just as advertised, it truly was a “magical” experience. One of the things that made it so was the “Key to the World” card I received upon checking in. That ubiquitous card served as both my room key and charge card during the cruise.  But not only did it work for charges on the ship -- from offshore excursions to beverage, spa and laundry services -- but it also enabled everyone in my party to be identified by the cruise ship’s staff. Imagine my nephew’s surprise and delight when, upon using the card to purchase a souvenir from the ship’s gift shop, a crew member wished him a happy birthday by name!

My experience on the cruise got me thinking about how marketing has evolved, first from single channel, then to multichannel and cross channel, and now, to the latest “mot du jour”: omni-channel. Omni-channel marketing is based on the concept of creating personalized, contextually relevant customer experiences across all the channels through which someone interacts with your brand. Like the marketing evolutions that came before it, omni-channel is a disruptive force that requires new organizational processes and tool sets to support.

It Begins with Planning

The first requirement of an omni-channel strategy is the ability to build your marketing plan around the consumer, rather than the channels by which you operate. To date, marketing planning has been based on the technology and the platform, such as a mobile strategy or a social media strategy. Omni-channel marketing is driven by the needs of the customer, and as such, means looking at consumers’ behaviors and needs first, and then choosing the right platforms and channels to satisfy these requirements. The ultimate goal is to deliver a seamless and consistent experience with your brand, at any time, and on whatever platform customers and prospects choose to use.

Tracking Customers and Prospects from a Single ID

Delivering a truly seamless omni-channel experience relies on your ability to track consumers across all the channels and platforms they use to interact with your brand, from websites, tablets and apps, to social media, call centers, physical stores and more. To the extent possible, each customer and prospect should be tracked with a unique ID via your CRM system, or enterprise data warehouse. Unique IDs enable you to string together -- in chronological order -- all the marketing touchpoints to which a user is exposed, so you can get a holistic view of each customer and his/her interactions with your brand.

A Big Data Infrastructure

Your marketing ecosystem may well include millions of prospects and trillions of possible touchpoint combinations. As such, you need a technology infrastructure in place to collect and manage this massive amount of marketing interaction data. Only once the infrastructure is in place to collect this data are you able to use it more effectively to understand consumer behavior and the way your target audience interacts with media, which is  fundamental to an omni-channel marketing approach.

Drawing Actionable Insights

Finally, omni-channel marketing relies on having the right measurement technology to draw actionable insights from the big data you’ve collected. Who is converting -- and who is not? How, when and where are they converting? Which creative is working -- and which is not? Holistic measurement of your marketing efforts provides answers to these complex questions by identifying the true customer journey and how combinations of channels, campaigns and tactics influence purchases and other conversions. Marketers can then feed these actionable insights back into their multichannel optimization process.

Smooth Sailing

Omni-channel success is built on putting the customer first. Brands like Disney Cruise Lines recognize the fundamental importance of the customer experience and are quickly discovering how to use omni-channel strategies to delight passengers like me with enhanced service. While the move to an omni-channel marketing model requires the adoption of new tools and processes, there are “magical” benefits in terms of increased revenue, enhanced customer satisfaction, and stronger, more loyal customer relationships.

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1 comment about "The Magic Behind Omni-Channel Marketing Success ".
  1. Graeme Grant from CQuotient , October 16, 2013 at 9:45 a.m.
    Anto, you make many great points in this article and present invaluable advice for retailers looking to create a seamless omnichannel experience. I especially like that you encouraged tracking consumers’ actions across all channels and platforms, including those that are offline, like physical stores and call centers, as these are often overlooked. But it’s important for companies to remember, many consumers only interact with a brand (even larger brands) just a few times a year. The good news is that retailers don’t need large quantities of touchpoints to be able to deliver the relevant, personalized experiences to their consumers that you described in your article. By embracing specific solutions, such as advanced predictive analytics, brands have the ability to analyze data, predict future behaviors, and interact with consumers on a personalized level to create loyalty and multi-purchase relationships.