In the business world today, we are seeing companies moving on from initial hype and enthusiasm for new technology and communication channels to a place where they can start to apply these powerful technologies and communication channels with a razor-sharp focus on winning more customers and keeping them profitable.
To put it briefly, we are seeing more and more companies moving from a sales-oriented multichannel focus to an omnichannel focus where customer profitability and customer loyalty are at the heart of all major decisions. Rasmus Houlind and Colin Shearer explain in their book Make It All About Me.
Digital hype and excitement
Needless to say, the advent of digital brought tremendous initial excitement. Marketers suddenly had an ever-increasing array of new communication channels and digital tools at their disposal. The first questions were naturally around how all of these new tools worked. What could marketers achieve? How could they better accomplish the goals that were already working towards?
From multichannel to omnichannel
Within marketing, this led to multichannel marketing, which is the ability to use multiple communication channels in marketing and sales. Seen from a contemporary standpoint, there was a tendency for marketing functions to copy traditional marketing mechanisms over to the – at that time – new digital channels. As an end customer, you would meet the same campaign everywhere – but it wouldn’t take into account the totality of your personal history with each company.
In pure multichannel marketing, data can be collected and used within each channel to at most sub-optimize the performance for precisely that channel. There are no incentives for anything else, at least not for the individual employee. Multichannel focuses on individual communication channels, which can be great for building a really good app or website. But, when it comes to integrating the channels, challenges arise.
Cross-channel marketing is the stepping stone between multichannel and omnichannel. The fundamental difference between multi- and cross-channel marketing lies in the use of data. In cross-channel marketing, there is a recognition that the consumer will switch channels many times on a purchasing journey. Channel managers are encouraged to obtain data from other channels since broader data will create better results for personalization and segmentation. But at this state the customer-centric organization is not yet in place, so silos are still strong, with internal rivalry and sub-optimizing of ‘non-customer-centric’ objectives, tools and data silos.
Omnichannel is the next level of marketing, where the entire organization has accustomed itself to the fact that customer’s buying decisions are not linear. In principle, every communication channel is bidirectional, and data is gathered and stored by organizations for use in later interactions via all other communication channels – hence the prefix ‘omni’. In practice, the customer service centre knows immediately if the customer it has on the line is one who opens their email and has recently been logged in; it also knows what their customer has previously purchased, both online and in-store. There is no channel conflict, and the employees are not biased to push the customer in a particular direction but are able to help the customer on the purchasing journey in an open and well-informed way. All outbound communications are also tailored on the basis of customers’ previous interactions with the company, as well as their stated or deduced interests and preferences. All together this maximises the relevance for each customer – and thus gets them to buy earlier, more and more often, and to tell their friends about their positive experience.
About the book
The term ‘omnichannel’ may be a marketing buzzword, but it also refers to a significant shift: marketers now need to provide a seamless experience, regardless of channel or device. Make it All About Me suggests how to work with omnichannel marketing and artificial intelligence without getting stuck in a certain channel or silo. Drawing on insights from global marketing experts, the book centres around the Omnichannel Hexagon, a framework to help gauge your omnichannel progress and prioritize your marketing efforts to ensure that every step you take is a step closer to the perfect, tailored customer experience — without sacrificing profitability.
The authors provide the background for understanding the six main omnichannel disciplines and demonstrate how you can manage them in a more customer-centric manner. Readers will get a visual overview of how far along their organization is in working with omnichannel and what barriers might impede further progress.
About the authors
Rasmus Houlind is a thought leader within omnichannel and digital marketing. Through more than a decade with major Scandinavian agencies, he’s worked with some of the largest brands in the Nordics. His work as a consultant and an author has helped him to build his knowledge of marketing and CRM. Since 2015, he’s been Chief Strategy Officer with the marketing technology company, Agillic.
Colin Shearer has been a pioneer and thought-leader in AI and advanced analytics for over 25 years. His experience ranges from successful start-ups and the creation of market-leading tools and technology — he designed and developed the Clementine Datamining System, now IBM SPSS Modeler — to worldwide executive roles with the largest vendors. In December 2016, Colin joined Houston Analytics, a Finland-based European leader in artificial intelligence, to become Chief Strategy Officer.
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