Omnichannel marketing has two different perspectives: the brand and the consumer.
- For a consumer, it refers to all the diverse ways you can interact with a brand and desire the same experience in all of them.
- For brands, it’s about understanding the journeys, capturing the right information, and ensuring that the channels that perform best are getting the most attention.
Ultimately, the line between digital and physical is blurred – consumers go into a store and log into their customer accounts simultaneously to redeem discounts, make returns, or look up previous orders. A consumer doesn’t care that these are different channels, and thus the challenge for brands is ensuring that it is all connected and delivering a positive experience.
A Channel Data Strategy
The complexity for retail, in addition to other verticals, is that many of the channels a consumer will use or see the brand within are not owned by the brands themselves. Competing for the eyes and the loyalty of consumers takes a lot of effort and ultimately, a lot of spending.
There are so many options for advertising these days and so many ways for consumers to interact with a brand. To understand what’s working, and to tie it all together in a meaningful way, it takes science to get from start to finish, backed by solid data.
Getting the data right from the beginning, connecting the fragmented pieces, and creating a full story, sets brands up to make the connection between different channels. However, the real power is in understanding what data is possible to gather on each channel and applying that against the privacy and compliance standards set by those channels or the individuals themselves.
To simplify the picture, let’s think of your channel strategy as a Ferris wheel with your brand in the middle and the cars representing each channel you operate within. You’ll have ownership of some of these channels, such as your website or mobile app, and some you do not, such as Instagram and other third-party channels.
The goal is to connect the cars to the middle and create a data pipeline so your brand can make the right investments and drive revenue. The amount of data or visibility will change from car to car, but this is where brands need to think differently and ensure that they are getting the best possible view (or data) they can.
A framework for working towards this best-of-breed approach should involve the following questions:
- Where are you investing and what channels are in action today?
- How do you measure the success of those investments currently?
- How do you try to drive consumers into your first-party (1P) channels?
- How are you managing digital identity and building profiles on your own channels?
- For your third-party (3P) channels, what data is available and how can it be used?
- What tactics are you putting in place to better understand those journeys and interactions?
- To ensure that consumers continue to be willing to share their data with you, how are you going to use that to deliver positive experiences?
- What data is missing today and where are you flying blind today?
Better Data, Better Experiences
The reason the above questions are so important is that not all channels are created equal. To determine which investment at the top of the funnel is driving revenue, there must be an improvement upon your data strategy and technology investments to ensure you can build an accurate view of the customer, maintain a picture of campaign interactions and apply some analytics and data science against it.
The investment in omnichannel should put the most focus on where you get the most benefit while ensuring you have a flexible strategy to test and learn about new concepts and approaches. Unfortunately, the privacy landscape changes seemingly daily as well which means you’ll have to adapt regularly when new gaps are created. However, the brands that create, manage, and use data to their advantage will be the brands that survive.
There will always be new innovations and approaches to deal with omnichannel struggles. For example, unified commerce is one way that brands try to understand better the customer lifecycle and purchases no matter what channel a consumer has started that journey from.
Regardless of the approach, omnichannel marketing is an effective way for businesses to engage with customers and increase brand awareness and loyalty. Success in this approach starts with a strong channel data strategy coupled with analysis and data activation. Doing so will help brands provide the seamless and consistent experience that consumers have come to expect and demand.