Marketing has, unfortunately, become somewhat of a rocket science. Not only is it now about sending the right message at the right time and under the right circumstances, but equally important, through the right channel.
Add to that a customer base that is extremely diverse, and you have yourself some challenges. How do you reach each customer in a cost-effective way in real time, through their preferred channel?
The magic of omnichannel
With omnichannel communication, the enterprise has the ability to engage and interact in a synchronised manner with customers at each and every touchpoint. An omnichannel experience isn’t, however, just about having multiple channels or about continuously adding more customer touchpoints: it’s about making sure those channels all work seamlessly together.
Omnichannel communication, therefore, describes a coordinated and consistent strategy for engaging and interacting with your customers as well as your potential customers. This can take place at any and every channel touchpoint in the customer journey.
These channels can include anything from physical and online stores; kiosks; digital signage; broadcast, electronic and print media; email; gaming consoles; online catalogues; social networks; help desks; customer relationship and customer experience management systems; and, especially, mobile interactions.
Why especially mobile?
With the rapidly-growing numbers of digital natives worldwide and their relationship with, and expectations of, mobile, a mobile-first component in omnichannel is increasingly essential.
Add to that the fact that smartphones and tablets are becoming more affordable to more people, and that for many are their only means of accessing the internet. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, almost half a billion (497 million) mobile devices and connections were added to the planet’s total in 2014. Cisco reports that global mobile devices and connections in 2014 grew to 7.4 billion, up from 6.9 billion in 2013.
Mobile has a key and expanding role in personalising offers and promotions based on individuals’ locations at any time.
Before you get started: 5 Questions to address
1. Do you understand your customers?
First and foremost, brands must understand their customers - their wants, needs, and preferences. This information can be gathered by analysing a variety of internal and external sources, as well as by analysing the customer journey. A prioritised set of customer journeys is a good approach to start to help deliver good customer experiences, aligned to brand values, starting with the most crucial customer journeys first.
Customers are typically driven to certain channels for particular tasks and their preferences will, therefore, determine the channel. Sometimes this is due to system limitations, but often there is an element of wanting more control at critical stages of interaction with a brand.
Omnichannel is about letting the customer use whatever channels they prefer for any transaction or interchange, subject to legal requirements and business policies.
2. Can your customers channel hop effortlessly?
Studies have shown that 74% of customers use three or more channels for engaging with customer service. Thus, one of the key elements of the omnichannel model is that channels should be well-integrated so that customers can use a variety of channels seamlessly to complete one task - without having to repeat their problem to multiple service reps.
When crafting an omnichannel customer experience, companies should store customer data in one central location, like the cloud. This allows customers to switch between channels easily, picking up where they left off because, thanks to the centralised data, everyone can access the required information to be able to assist them further in their journeys.
3. Are you delivering your messages in context?
Knowing where the customer is in their customer journey cannot be emphasised enough. They need to have a good experience wherever they are in the cycle. If for example, a customer has already bought a product or are already using a service, then it is likely that the context for that customer will be around support, not on marketing or sales. This is a fundamental shift in thinking regarding customer engagement.
4. Do you offer automation?
There is a myriad of benefits related to marketing automation. Some of the top ones include improved lead management in the form of scoring, nurturing and segmentation, as well as email and campaign management.
Mastering these functions through marketing automation can enhance efficiencies and help streamline your marketing and sales process. Ultimately, once marketing automation systems are implemented and integrated into CRM platforms, measurable results and granular insights about how to engage with prospects and customers follow.
5. Are your messages personalised?
No matter what channel your customers are using, each person has unique needs and desires. Personalisation in omnichannel communication is about ensuring previous interchanges of information across all channels are taken into account to ensure the right data is in the right place at the right time.
This includes browsing history, the customer’s known preferences, demographic data, and so forth. Brands can combine implicit and explicit personalisation – in some cases working out what users are interested in from previous interactions, while in others it might be capturing their interests. This should drive all activity between the brand and customer in the buying, using and sharing phases of the customer lifecycle.
Grapevine enables companies to provide useful and relevant information to their customers by making them present at all stages of the customer journey - no matter how rapidly or frequently their purchasing behaviour changes. By combining omnichannel communications with marketing automation capability, Grapevine offers companies a cloud-based product platform that can be deployed at speed and scale. The company is powered by an expert team of mobile-first digital marketing technology experts.