Gone are the days of the traditional path to purchase, where customers followed a linear track, considered a handful of brands, and narrowed choices during an evaluation phase. A plethora of interaction points across smart devices and channels coupled with unprecedented consumer choice has made today’s shopper more empowered than ever — and turned the buying journey on its head.
A static transaction-based approach is no longer tenable when trying to engage with the continuously connected consumer. Marketers who want to provide consumers with a holistic experience must always be on the lookout for customer signals, understanding each unique interaction and its relevance to the overall customer need. Managing such a journey — and mastering omnichannel marketing — starts with a comprehensive view of each individual customer.
Listen to Consumer Signals
Consumers expect a consistent, seamless omnichannel experience. To meet these expectations, marketers must tune in and listen to consumer signals. It might be tempting to listen to the consumer with the intent to reply, but marketers should instead focus their energy on listening with the aim to understand.
This allows marketers to see precisely what’s happening underneath the hood of the shopper’s journey. These inner workings become apparent through an easily accessible single view of the customer, a continuously updated golden record that lets marketers know all that's knowable about each customer.
A single view strips away the guesswork by providing marketers with deep understanding across first-, second- and third-party sources at scale, and across all types of structures. Any new trigger or variable — e.g., a "like" on social media, a page view, a product review — instantly becomes part of the unified customer profile and informs expectations for the customer’s likely course of action. Finely tuned listening empowers marketers to engage with a customer in the right context and cadence every time.
The Missing Link
In transaction-based marketing, marketers lack insight into cause and effect so they struggle to understand which action spurred a purchase. Was it the 30-second ad, the product placement, the packaging? This problem is compounded by today’s consumers who instantly pivot based on any number of variables.
Imperfect assumptions based only on demographic or transactional data run the risk of introducing friction into the experience through making irrelevant offers or treating consumers inconsistently across channels. In a consumer-driven, omnichannel world, everything is intertwined, therefore marketers have to rethink how to target, message and optimize.
Getting Real With Real-Time Decisioning
With consumers always on and readily addressable, real-time data is another crucial component in mastering the omnichannel approach. Take for example consumers who buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), requiring relevant last-mile connections to keep pace with a consumer’s customized journey. In this scenario, real-time decisions can be triggered when the customer is near the physical location to cross-sell items from a partially abandoned cart, or to avoid offers for the product they just bought.
Real-time decisioning powers the omnichannel experience. A real-time engine requires real-time data that provides a current and up-to-date understanding of customers as the basis to interact with them in highly personalized moments across their journeys. Without it, a brand is unable to facilitate a seamless customer experience.
Being in step with the customer throughout their path to purchase isn't just optional, it’s a must-have in today’s connected world. In fact, research from the Harris Poll study commissioned by RedPoint Global revealed that consumers rated omnichannel consistency as one of the top three most important aspects of their customer experience, along with privacy and customer understanding.
Listening and truly understanding the customer through a single point of control over data will pave the way for marketers to master their omnichannel strategy.
John Nash is the chief marketing and strategy officer at RedPoint Global, a customer data platform and engagement hub.