The rise of multichannel marketing is a reflection of the fact that audiences are split between an ever-increasing number of devices and platforms.
Sharing a marketing message means being where your customers are and they are in lots of places. There are online and offline touchpoints. Some customers prefer to interact with brands in one medium and others in another. A portion of your audience may respond well to, say, browser pop-ups and remarketing ads while others prefer email or push notifications. One-size-fits-all marketing doesn’t fit anyone anymore.
Consumers are constantly finding new places to gather and brands have to keep up.
Do you know where you’re going?
Marketers have responded to this creation of smaller consumer segments by trying to be in all places at all times through multichannel marketing. As the name suggests, this is a series of loosely connected campaigns in a variety of different channels. The idea is to maximize the reach of a brand message and opportunities to interact with potential customers.
Multichannel campaigns might include any combination of offline and online marketing options: retail stores, email marketing, PPC ads, events, push notifications, etc. The goal of multichannel campaigns is to boost the chances of engaging and converting customers simply by increasing the impressions.
This kind of approach to marketing is now standard for any business that expects to succeed in the marketplace but it’s not without its drawbacks.
The struggle with integration
Essentially, the weakness of multichannel marketing lies in the “multi” part. The same thing that makes it attractive and even necessary – being in all the places where customers are – makes it difficult to create a consistent approach. Multichannel marketing produces a lot of data about customers but doesn’t synthesize it well enough to paint a complete picture. Data collected in one channel doesn’t inform strategy in another.
Even though multichannel marketing increases the number of customer touchpoints, the customer experience typically remains fragmented and disjointed. Without integrating the different parts into a unified customer experience, it’s difficult for the message promoted in one channel to be informed by what a customer does in another.
There are lots of ways to illustrate the problem of a lack of integration between channels. For example, if someone adds a product to their online cart using a mobile device, that item might not be there if they access their account later from a desktop. If a potential customer clicks on a certain link in an email, dynamic website content should change to reflect it. Product recommendations should change according to browsing histories on multiple devices.
Failing to make arrangements for these types of issues can mean lost sales or, at a minimum, an inconsistent customer experience that undermines confidence in a brand.
The multichannel and silo paradox
Pursuing a segregated multichannel strategy can also result in a dangerous silo mentality. Depending on the size of the business, managers of different product lines may favor or prefer separate channels. They may push their own version of the brand’s marketing message at the expense of data gathered from other channels. If the different components of a multichannel strategy aren’t trading data, it can lead to each of them taking divergent paths. From here, it’s just a short step to a messy, disorganized brand image that confuses customers.
Multichannel marketing also has limited options for campaign automation. Since there is no link between feedback from a campaign in one medium and another campaign from a second platform, it requires some form of time-consuming manual analysis or segment creation before you can proceed.
Multichannel marketing can provide you with great but separate statistical pictures of a customer’s eyes, nose and hair. But there’s another tool that gives you a clearer picture of a complete face.
Advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence are the foundation of omnichannel marketing. Omnichannel tools take the separate threads of your marketing efforts and weave them into a unified whole, making it possible to create new strategies based on the free flow of data between marketing channels.
The omnichannel approach puts the focus on a better overall customer experience rather than dividing marketing strategy into separate channels. It stresses presenting a consistent message through a holistic approach across closely integrated channels.
Omnichannel marketing is deeply data-driven. It takes the data you collect from various touchpoints, online and off, and applies it across channels. Customer profiles evolve with every data point, all in real time. This strategy makes it possible to form a consistent, singular view of each individual customer. A click on a product here, a website visit there-every interaction informs the next step you take.
Customers are constantly sending you signals about what they like, what they want more of and which mediums they prefer. Omnichannel tools give you the power to read these hints and adjust in real time, enhancing customer engagement and accelerating progress along the conversion path.
Being data-centered also means your marketing approach can be dynamic, right down to the individual level. Using omnichannel marketing tools means having more options for campaign management like real-time segmentation or complex sequences of triggers. You can arrange for personalized dynamic content to be delivered on the basis of any number of conditions. This enables you to further refine the offer with each step along the conversion path.
More options, more flexibility
With omnichannel marketing, you can create customized journeys based on individual behavioral histories and preferences. Your message can be relevant to their interests, consistent across channels and delivered when it has the best chance to convert.
With omnichannel tools, your channels are always aligned and pulling in the same direction. There are no gaps and no seams, just one consistent customer experience. This in itself has tremendous value in an age when customers interact several times over multiple devices before making a purchase decision.
Let’s go back to an example mentioned earlier. When a customer adds an item to an online cart on one device and later sees that it’s still there while using another device, it shows that they are dealing with a unified customer interface. There are no interruptions or an inconsistent user experience that could distract them.
When you streamline and update your message in real time, a new world of opportunities opens up. With multichannel marketing, your aim is to deliver the right message to the right person. Omnichannel takes things a step further – it lets you do it at just the right time.
Omnichannel lets marketing strategies be as fluid and dynamic as the customer behavior you’re trying to follow.