People today expect an instant and seamless experience, regardless of how they engage with you. That might sound scary, but with the right tools in place, you can provide this type of experience.
Once upon a time, businesses only had to worry about two types of engagement. Your customers would either come into your brick-and-mortar location to talk to a human being, or phone you to ask questions. The customer experience was easy to manage. You just had to be at the office before you opened and you would be good to go.
The introduction of the World Wide Web slowly made the customer experience more difficult to manage. As the internet matured, businesses needed to be aware of what was being said about them online and how their brand was being perceived. This was the beginning (and heyday) of multi-channel (or cross-channel) marketing.
Multi-channel marketing is defined as:
“The ability to interact with potential customers on various platforms. In this sense, a channel might be a print ad, a retail location, a website, a promotional event, a product’s package or even word of mouth. Multichannel marketing is about choice.”
Over time, mobile web searches and applications began to grow in popularity. This added another wrinkle to the marketing equation. Responsive design, applications built for different operating systems, and mobile-first websites began to appear. The landscape was shifting.
Multi-channel marketing involved creating campaigns for each individual channel. This was done so customers were able to take action using the channel of their choice. Multi-channel marketers hope that after a certain number of interactions, the customer will make a purchase through the channel of their choice. Before multi-channel marketing, the consumer’s journey between channels was very fragmented and broken. But marketing and digital have now evolved even more, and some would say that in 2017, multi-channel marketing is outdated. Today, omnichannel marketing is now how nearly every single industry, whether they sell consumer goods or financial advice, market their wares to customers.
According to SearchCIO:
Omnichannel (also spelled omni–channel) is a multi-channel approach to sales that seeks to provide the customer with a seamless shopping experience whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a bricks and mortar store.
If you have never heard of omnichannel marketing, here are a few statistics that prove why omnichannel experiences are now the way to go:
- The Aberdeen Group has conducted surveys that suggest that the top fifth of firms in terms of omni-channel engagement have a customer retention rate around 89%, while the other 80% of firms have an average retention rate of 33%.
- 72% of digital shoppers consider in-store experience as the most important channel when making a purchase.
- Shoppers who buy from a business, both in-store and online have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.
- 64% of customers expect to receive seamless customer service regardless of which channel they are using.
Clearly, expectations have shifted and shoppers want a seamless experience, regardless of their platform of choice. You need to be able to provide those experiences to be successful in your marketing efforts.
Unlike before, you have to be prepared for a much wider variety of engagement methods. Every experience that a customer has with your business, whether it be through mobile, web, social, or in-store, must feel seamless. This connected experience is called “omnichannel”, referring to a single channel encompassing all the previously distinct sales channels.
Omnichannel experience has three basic elements that are always present.
- Create a buyer profile using analytics from multiple channels
- Relevant content, right when they need it.
- Ability to access any information, any time, using any channel
One of the most efficient ways to provide an omnichannel experience is to invest in a single unifying platform such as Liferay.
In case you aren’t familiar with Liferay, it’s an open-source enterprise experience platform, focused on creating enterprise portals, customer facing web applications, and other digital experience solutions. Liferay portals are built on one unified system and is quite easy to add existing systems to your portal or web application.
Here are the three basic elements that need to be met in order to assure an omnichannel experience:
1) Buyer Profile
A platform such as Liferay can make it easier to satisfy the three basic elements of omnichannel. The most important element to satisfy is also the first: creating a buyer profile. Regardless of how the customer accesses and interacts with your content, the data will be stored in the same place. This makes it possible to analyze data and create the buyer profile.
Aspects such as IP addresses, which keywords or social channel brought them to your website, and any personal information provided on forms can be used to create buyer profiles. All of this can be easily tracked and put into the same database, pooling all information about visitors in one dataset. Liferay makes this process very simple since the back-end systems are all interconnected. The data collected will give you insights needed in order to create accurate buyer personas.
2) Relevant Content
Once you have your buyer profiles, you can find out what content would be relevant to those personas and set out creating it. Relevant content is content that appeals to your target audiences; it should help them, address their interests, needs and challenges, and improve their lives in one way or another. It also means providing the information in their preferred type of content whether that be a blog, visual content, podcast, video, etc.
There are many ways you can make your content relevant to the target audience. One way to do this is by researching keywords and following the conversation on social media. Use a social media listening tool to find out what your audience is talking about. A second way you can ensure you are producing relevant content is by soliciting information from your customers and sales team. They will know what prospects and clients are saying, what they need to know and what form they want the content in. Regardless of how you plan your content calendar, you need to produce content for a true omnichannel experience.
3) Access to Information
The final aspect of creating an omnichannel experience is giving visitors the ability to access any information, at any time, using any channel. This part of the equation is essential. It defines an omnichannel experience.
Now, in order for this aspect to be satisfied, you need a system with responsive design. Responsive design allows your website to be accessed and viewed using any device, with any browser. Your website should be functional and aesthetically pleasing on all devices, from a smartphone to a 200 foot monitor.
While we discussed the digital aspects of creating a good omnichannel experience, there are other factors to consider. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, the in-store experience should have the same general feel as your digital experience. A true omnichannel experience crosses over from digital to physical seamlessly.
The difficulties with executing an omnichannel strategy involve collecting and analyzing data to provide a seamless experience, both digitally and in person. The most difficult part of omnichannel strategy involves aligning your channels to form a single stream. A good CMS, with a strong underlying system, can be one of the most effective ways to solve these challenges.
The process of building a true omnichannel experience is never complete. The process is constantly changing based on evolving technologies, trends and behaviours. It’s important to be willing to consistently adapt and tweak your strategy in order to provide the best omnichannel experience.
There are many excellent platforms for creating digital experiences using responsive design. Regardless of the device, there are methods to creates beautiful websites and portals for your business. While there are many products on the market that are meant to improve customer experience, we can fit a solution to your needs. The best one for your business depends on your goals, processes and needs. If you would like to learn more about how technology solutions can help you improve your omnichannel experiences you can contact us here.
So, how are your omnichannel marketing efforts going? What challenges have you faced trying to integrate your systems? Are there any difficulties with implementing an omnichannel strategy that we left out? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ.
As always, thank you for reading. If this topic interests you, check out our other articles on Omnichannel: