Omni-channel: you're probably screwing it up
A big part of digital transformations is creating omni-channel customer experiences. One of the confusions we often face when presenting to CEOs and other C-level executives (thankfully less often from CMOs…) is that they tend to think “omni-channel” as a concept is synonymous with “multi-channel”. This is a big mistake, and one that is likely costing those companies a lot of money.
What’s the difference?
Multi-channel marketing means that your customer experiences happen across different channels, but - apart from the same branding - the experiences in each of the channels are managed individually. There might be some underlying data that is leveraged for each channel, but optimization of the customer interactions happens within each channel.
For example, when an email marketing team sends you an ad of product A, and three times in a row you open the email, but you don’t click through, they will send you an ad for a Product B next time. Or when a website team realizes that the highest click-through rates for Product A happen around lunch time, they will start advertising that product at that time of the day. By optimising each of these channels based on the data available within each silo, you will drive extra value.
What omni-channel experiences aim to do is to provide seamless connections for the customers across all the channels. The customer journey might after all start in one channel, and then continue in another channel. The same reason why you received an email with an ad for Product A should also determine that (everything else being equal) when you visit the website of the brand you will also see an ad for Product A on the front page.
Why does it matter?
The rationale for making the customer experience omni-channel is that when channels are interconnected like this, the quality of the conversation with your company increases from the point of view of the customer.
From the perspective of output, each channel shows the same consistent messaging to customers. This means that instead of competing messaging from a brand at every turn, the customer receives confirmation upon confirmation of the brand value proposition.
From the input side, data collected from every single touchpoint, regardless of the channel, can be used as a signal in any channel (including offline channels, which we covered in our article “Your store and omni-channel customer engagement”). This means that your understanding of the customer’s behaviour, drivers and preferences drastically increases, thus improving the quality of your personalization and targeting, driving extra value above the value available within silos, so the total is larger than the sum of parts.
So how do I make money from this?
Fundamentally (and maybe a bit philosophically), keeping your customer happy by creating great experiences will most likely make you money.
More actionably, though, you can start with some of the following ideas:
Website ==> email ==> outbound call: if a customer spends a chunk of time on a particular product or service page on your website, send them an email about that product or service with a strong call to action. If that doesn’t convert them, consider sending another email a couple of days later with some exciting offer related to the product or service. If the profitability of the sale warrants it, consider a call from your outbound call centre.
Website ==> app ==> branch / store: if a customer visits a product page on their desktop, the next time they are on your app, serve an ad about the same product (hopefully you have a place for it in your app!). And when they walk into your store, detect them with your beacon infrastructure and first serve them a message on your digital displays, and then follow up with a personalized touch from a clerk in the store (“Mr. Tymula, would you potentially be interested in this great product?”).
In-store ==> email ==> web ==> display: if a customer buys a product in-store, send her an ad for an item that goes with that product through email, or serve a coupon about the product add-on on the front page the next time she comes to your website. If the expected value (i.e. value * probability) warrants it, serve her an ad on a third party display.
But isn’t it difficult?
If it was easy, it wouldn’t be called work. Go build the first journey. Make it simple. Just build the first one. You will see very quickly that the effort you put in generates a very good response.
Be pragmatic. Done is better than perfect.