Achieving Omnichannel Marketing

Since the ‘90, cross-channel, multichannel and omnichannel marketing has been the place where marketers connected user experiences with multidepartmental efforts. Optimizing this involves some guesswork, since if you ask folks exactly what is entailed, you will likely get different responses.

Some describe multichannel as retail store, website, catalogue, mail, email, text, social, mobile and how you connect consumer channels and consumer engagement.  Some see omnichannel retailing as an evolution of multichannel marketing with a more concentrated focus on consumer experiences as it relates to shopping channels, but usually with the cloak of custome service -oriented experience design.  The lines are beginning to blur.

With the consumer’s shift to mobile, in-home, mobile out of home, etc., enabling an organization’s omnichannel strategy can’t be limited to how you communicate and engage.  It becomes an exercise in understanding how exposure, engagement, competitive factors and your organizational view of customer investment translate in day-to-day program design/management.

It’s important to separate how we view multichannel marketing as a mix of channels designed to optimize and positively influence marketing performance, vs. omnichannel, which forces you to think about all engagement points and where channels not only influence communication, but influence long-term customer value.  One is a tactic for engagement and the other is ultimately how you invest in your portfolio assets to enable, at scale, the organizational vision.

What this means for email is, you have to think of your email and multichannel programs as a portfolio.  Each has a different value to your business and performs differently. You should support the entire organization, not as many do as a disparate reaction to a customer event designed to be a fulfillment value.   

The reason this is a hot spot with me is that for many years we have been asked to reinvent programs, and doing so at a message level is rather incomplete in my book.  There is no way you’ll really connect channels in scale, and hope to answer what’s the value of connected experiences, the way we are approaching it today.

So, I suggest you rethink what aspects of your program are really important, but do so with a few principles in mind:    .  

-      Not all activities render a transactional value exchange (but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it).

-      Long-tail engagement strategies can work in tandem with episodic tactics if  you have patience, consistency and alignment across departments.

What makes this so interesting is, you don’t need to be good at all channels to deliver on this vision. But you do need to prioritize cross-link activities that maximize where your brand can deliver the best experiences.  We in the digital communications field can’t continue to accept “after the fact” communication directives that force us into a virtual mouse wheel of tactical activities that over time seem to be slight variations on what we did yesterday, but fail to drive organizational value.

Challenge conventional wisdom!

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2 comments about "Achieving Omnichannel Marketing".
  1. Pete Austin from Triggered Messaging , March 10, 2014 at 2:03 p.m.
    Entirely agree, but keeping management support for your long term marketing plans is a lot easier if you ensure that every step shows positive ROI. So start with the guaranteed money-makers, like cart+browse abandonment with over 10% sales uplift: http://www.triggeredmessaging.com/blog/real-time-marketing-report-for-february-2014 Then introduce personalized product feeds where we have one case study (to be published soon) showing over 3% sales uplift after less than 1 day's work. Once you've cherry-picked these opportunities, and are showing a good profit, you can go for the longer-term strategies such as brand-building.
  2. David Baker from Acxiom , March 10, 2014 at 6:14 p.m.
    you have wisdom beyond your years Pete and a very practical view. I struggled with this column since it doesn't really address what happens in the "now" vs. how to connect to something bigger and more sustainable.. Thanks for adding to it, 700 words only lets you do so much :) Cheers, David