Omnichannel marketing is really about experiences. It’s achieved when a brand delivers a seamless experience to customers, regardless of the channel, device or context in which their interactions take place. While this united marketing front may seem like an unrealistic utopia, it’s really more of a critical requirement of tomorrow’s winning brands.
Savvy marketers might understand this reality, however, many lack the tools, resources or strategies to put an omnichannel approach into action.
Marketers today have access to a host of new technologies to help make visions of omnichannel experiences a reality. These technologies use advanced data and analytics capabilities to automate much of the process and unite the brand’s various marketing channels. In doing so, the quality and consistency of each customer’s experience is maintained.
For example, think of a consumer who browses the website of her favorite retailer on her computer while at work. During her commute home, she accesses that same retailer’s app on her smartphone. Later that night, she browses Facebook on her tablet, where she's presented with an ad from that same retailer recommending a product related to her browsing earlier in the day. These touchpoints are enough to draw her back into the retailer’s online storefront, where she's again presented with recommended products as well as a customized incentive, which she uses to make a purchase.
How is this done? There weren’t any marketers manually connecting with this shopper behind the scenes. Nor was it all mere coincidence. Omnichannel experiences like these are made possible by the power of automation technology.
But how does one navigate the transition to automation? And how can automation be used to master omnichannel customer experiences? Here are a few best practices to keep in mind.
Don’t Just Engage With Any Technology
Much like buying a house, choosing an automation technology is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. In the initial research phase, make sure you know what to look for.
Working with the most intuitive technology available is key. Avoid solutions that simply serve as large databases or require constant maintenance and input from a human operator. The point is to create less work, not different work.
Look for dynamic, integrated platforms that allow you to connect all elements — email and the web, mobile and tablet IDs, offline point-of-sale systems — to handle every type of customer/client situation. This combination of consumer behavior, analytics and advanced technology will allow you to create a truly unified profile that's customizable on a case-by-case basis.
Be Smart About Shopping Cart Abandonment
Once you have a solution in place, it’s all about operating smarter. All marketers are wary of shopping cart abandonment. According to BI Intelligence, approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise was abandoned in online shopping carts last year. Even a 1 percent uptick in conversions from that shopping cart abandonment pool would mean millions of dollars in sales.
Thankfully, automated omnichannel platforms allow marketers to use revenue recovery strategies, such as abandoned shopping cart events, as part of their strategic omnichannel marketing plans. These campaigns help encourage on-the-fence customers to complete their online purchases with relevant follow-up initiatives.
These campaigns result in high conversion rates because they're personalized based on each customer’s preferences and recent behavior. Additionally, the customers that generate the greatest revenues and margins are those that are active, so it’s best for your bottom line to keep buyers engaged and satisfied.
By strategically addressing shopping cart abandonment, marketers can earn a larger share of the billion-dollar pie.
Bring Location Into the Mix
The old adage “location, location, location” is as important in marketing as it is in real estate. To be effective, omnichannel marketing needs to take into consideration a customer’s offline activity, not just online behavior. The utilization of location devices — from a big-box retailer’s app or an in-store beacon — allows for the unification of offline and online experiences.
How can a customer’s offline experience mirror his or her online experience? How do you let consumers know, based on their locations, what items are on sale? What can you offer up in-store?
High-end retailer Rebecca Minkoff uses location technology to operate its 20 stores worldwide. The designer’s stores have smart walls that suggest new styles to customers upon entry, as well as smart mirrors in dressing rooms that allow customers to browse styles and sizes. The features are automated but simultaneously provide each customer with a valuable, personalized experience.
Using location insights allows for a geography-based online and offline experience. There's not enough human capacity to manually provide that type of experience for all customers, but automation can step in and solve the problem of scale with technology.
Don’t Shy Away From Social
One way to amplify the effectiveness of customer data and insights is by looking at offline and online purchasing data, as well as engagement, and multiplying it across channels.
Email is commonly used by brands and retailers to engage with customers, but automation platforms use social channels to make engagement more holistic. The result not only attracts audience members, but relates to them on a personal level to convert them into customers and then retain their business.
By combining analytics with engaging, creative assets, marketers can leverage social channels in conjunction with email or push notifications (if applicable) to target the right customers in the right areas.
For example, Instagram recently rolled out a dynamic ads feature that takes into account a customer’s habits and past behavior. When a customer abandons an item in their cart, for example, Instagram’s feature can serve an ad for that item. Not only is this an effective shopping cart abandonment strategy, it’s also a way for marketers to engage social media in an effective, unique way.
The thought of tackling omnichannel marketing can be overwhelming. However, it doesn’t need to be. Remember, it’s all about creating united customer experiences across all channels and devices. There are sophisticated automation technologies and integrated platforms to help make possible what recently seemed unattainable. As with any major initiative, just take one step at a time, find a trusted partner, and keep a steady focus on improving and unifying the customer experiences delivered by your brand.
Sean Brady is the President, Americas at Emarsys, a provider of B-to-C marketing automation software.
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