3 New Challenges Arising in Omnichannel Marketing
The buyer’s journey is no longer a straight, narrow road. Whether the purchase is large or small, consumers have more choices than ever in terms of when, where and how to buy. Omnichannel marketing is the only way brands can be sure to catch the right consumers at the right times.
Even if interest first strikes at a brick-and-mortar store, most shoppers don’t simply purchase on the spot. Many rely on online research to determine the item’s quality, as well as other retailers’ prices. Research is just one of the many possible detours on the path to a purchase, however. Brands must consider all the channels and devices consumers interact with daily.
Omnichannel marketing makes it easy for consumers to move from awareness to the commitment stage. It provides an uninterrupted consumer experience, regardless of channel or device. Unfortunately, few brands master the omnichannel mix, and the learning curve is getting sharper each month.
Stay Ahead of Multichannel Churn
One of the biggest challenges for omnichannel marketers is the rapid evolution of marketing channels. New ones debut all the time, while old favorites can fade without warning — think of MySpace’s dizzying decline. You can’t rely on any single channel to remain popular. Your brand must be agile enough to repurpose and redistribute marketing funds at a moment’s notice.
Beyond the rise and fall of social media channels, marketers also must approach the transaction strategically. Should you require customers to purchase through your app or website so you can control the experience? Should you open it up to third-party sites to make the purchase more convenient? Is convenience or control more valuable?
If you decide to expand your purchase options, another issue may rear its ugly head: incongruity. With more channels added to the mix, the chances of conflicting messages grow exponentially.
Luckily, the challenges inherent in omnichannel marketing can be overcome with the strategic use of data. Here’s how:
1. Personalize it. Data can be a powerful personalization tool if you organize and analyze it. Use data to create dynamic customer profiles and craft unique messages for distinct segments of your audience, as well as for different devices. One arena reaping the rewards of big data is the travel industry. Travel brands are using customer data to individualize hotel, location and tour recommendations.
2. Maintain a consistent user experience. Today’s consumers expect a consistent retail experience across all channels. Review all touchpoints to ensure they’re consistent. At first glance, the consumer should recognize that he or she is interacting with your brand.
3. Keep offers relevant. With so many possible detours on the buyer’s journey, it’s essential to offer the right product at the right time — or risk missing out on a sale. Use past transactional data and online reviews, ratings and searches to develop relevant content for each phase of the customer journey. Consumers should never wonder why they’re getting a message from your brand.
4. Fulfill every promise. Nothing is more frustrating than getting a promotion, only to find the retailer can’t fulfill it. A close second is being forced to jump through hoops to take advantage of an offer. Your supply chain, merchandising, marketing and technology should all align to respond appropriately and efficiently.
The purchase journey isn’t getting any less complicated. New channels and devices constantly add layers of complexity for brands trying to reach consumers. By harnessing data smartly, however, brands can personalize the experience and keep messaging consistent across all channels.
Tony Tie is a numbers-obsessed marketer, life hacker and public speaker who has helped various Fortune 500 companies grow their online presence. Located in Toronto, he's currently the senior search marketer at Expedia Canada, the leading travel booking platform. Connect with Tony on Twitter @tonytie.