Rasmus Houlind and Colin Shearer, authors of Make It All About Me share their expert marketing tip on omnichannel marketing and why it is vital for all industries.
In the business world today, we are seeing companies moving on from the 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.
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 now achieve? how could they better accomplish the goals that they 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 a 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 customer 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 stage the customer-centric organisation 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 customers’ 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 the 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 maximizes the relevance for each customer – and this gets them to buy earlier, more and more often, and to tell their friends about their positive experience.
As the description of omnichannel above clearly indicates, omnichannel success takes more profound effort from the whole organization and entails moving far beyond simply ‘going digital’.
Omnichannel is for all industries
Even though retailers and consumer-based retail brands have been quick to embrace omnichannel as a concept, the term is by no means exclusive to these types of business. Just because a certain business doesn’t have physical products or stores doesn’t mean that customers limit themselves to one single communication or sales channel in their search, or when they are looking for after-sales service. Getting omnichannel right as a business requires a lot of supply chain and inventory management – something that other industries may not need to do.
The omnichannel transformation
The transformation into the new omnichannel paradigm implies a profound change within not only marketing but also many other parts of the business. CEOs need to support and play a central role in changing existing ways of working, not only within marketing and sales but also within data analytics, retail and even HR.
And, even if throughout the organization things are in place for omnichannel marketing, you won’t be able to make all communication relevant to everyone all the time. YOU will never get to a point where you have a complete customer database; you will never have enough data on all your customers, not all the content you need to always be relevant to everyone. This means that you cant suddenly abandon your one-size-fits-all campaigns. They have to live on.
For most companies, an omnichannel transformation means rebuilding the aircraft while flying it. And, if you aren’t given any extra resources, it will be the same people flying the aircraft as those who are rebuilding it.
But in time your entire organization will become customer-centric. It will have a large known customer base, numerous AI models, and vast amounts of content and automated communications going out to the right customers at the right time. You in-store personal and customer service agents will be trained and equipped with tools that bridge the gaps between sales and communication channels alike so that customers – for the most part – are met with relevant communication.
That’s when the transformation will be complete.
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 Data mining 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.
Comments are closed