A Google search on ‘Omni-channel marketing’ recently offered no less than 13.3 million hits. It’s a popular subject, considered by many as the ultimate way to communicate efficiently with customers. It holds much promise to optimize both response and retention. This is vital in an age where the customer is in command, constantly switching channels and screens. Still, most marketing professionals don’t know where to start with their Omni-channel strategy.
Here are 5 hints for a smooth start of your Omni-channel journey
1. Start thinking ‘integration’
There is a big difference between Multi-channel and Omni-channel. What sets Omni-channel apart is the integration of channels. To charm and to keep customers you need to offer them a seamless journey through all the relevant channels: from social media and e-newsletter to website, from store to call center. A seamless customer experience requires integrated data in order to tell a consistent story at every touch point with your customer. This also involves doing away with silos in your company, which can be a big challenge. But the good news is: you can start small.
2. Start small with full control
To build up expertise you can start by integrating just two channels to tell a seamless story to your customers. Choose two channels that are easy to adopt. Pick the ones with the best response scores of your marketing campaigns. For example, your email program and Facebook.
3. Identify your customers across channels
Your first reflex should be to always know to whom you are talking. Try to collect a maximum of contact data to identify the consumer on multiple devices and channels. Here are some of the best consumer identifiers:
- email address,
- mobile phone number,
- postal address,
- Facebook ID.
Don’t forget to ask for the basic data to start a polite and friendly conversation: name, first name, language and gender. These are vital data to personalize your messages.
4. Collect and store data and measure effects
Each campaign you launch is a unique opportunity to collect customer feedback.
Each interaction should be stored in your systems: CRM, DMP, etc. Ideally every registered action should be linked to an identified individual in your client or prospect database. Each click, comment, like, reaction and purchase is a data source that can lead to valuable insights. By transforming the data into consumer knowledge, you can learn a lot about your clients: their habits, their favorite channel, the content and offers they respond to, etc.
5. Optimize one channel with lessons learned from another
Here’s an example. Suppose you start testing with two channels: email and Facebook. You send out a weekly digital newsletter with product information, promotions and discounts. You’ve managed to optimize your email program to a 25% open rate, which is the market benchmark for email marketing on a company’s own customer database. That’s nice. But it also implies that 75 % of your clients ignore your messages.
One good step forward is to identify these non-openers and retarget them via Facebook. That’s easy: you have their email address. Suppose 2% reacts to your Facebook messages. Is this a modest result? Not at all: you’ve managed to re-engage 1.5% of your clients! And you didn’t even change your message or offer. All you’ve done is switch channels. Moreover it may well be that you have detected the favorite channel for this particular customer segment.
This only one example. There are plenty of them. Successful companies have already understood the absolute necessity of a consistent and seamless communication across multiple channels. Not only for customer experience purposes, but also for the good of their P&L. Companies with a successful omni-channel strategy manage to retain 89% of their customers, when companies with a weak omni-channel strategy only retains 33% of them.