Building Better Customer Experiences Through Omni-Channel Marketing

As marketers work harder to provide a better experience on the consumer journey, they’re likely to turn to cross-device marketing as a way to ensure that, no matter what device a consumer is using, they can engage and interact with a brand.

And while it is becoming imperative to reach these customers on desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones, simply having a presence on these various channels is not enough to build a long-term relationship with consumers.

That’s where omni-channel marketing comes in. Omni-channel marketing goes one step further than simply ensuring you’re present on different marketing channels; it requires delivering a consistent message to provide a seamless experience for potential customers across all channels and devices.

The Problem Up Until Now

As the prevalence of social media and blogging has increased in the marketing world, we’ve seen some division of labor among marketers. There may be one person (or team) managing social media, while another handles email, content marketing, ads, et cetera.

The issue with this system is that it creates silos in marketing. Rarely does one marketer talk to another to ensure consistency in their efforts. And so you might have one version of your brand logo on social sites and another in emails. You might use a casual tone on social media, but a more formal one on your blog. There’s disconnect, and consumers sense it.

The Way Consumers View Your Brand

Potential customers, while on the consumer journey, look at your brand as a single entity they either do or do not want to have a relationship with. They don’t consider your brick-and-mortar store any different than your Twitter stream. If visiting your store, a shopper can use her phone to order items that are out of stock, it would be a jarring experience if, when she returns home, she realizes she can’t buy items from your website.

Likewise, if you’re quick to respond to customer questions on Facebook, you should be equally responsive via phone or email.

Consumers want consistency. That’s what the omni-channel approach provides.

Breaking the Silo Mindset

The larger the marketing department, the more challenging it is to provide a united front. Social Media Sally may have her own ideas about how to manage the brand’s profiles, while Content Carla goes in a completely different direction with the blog and ebooks she writes.

The biggest challenge here is to break out of the mindset that each person or team owns a component of marketing. The marketing department as a whole is a single unit with one goal: to provide a consistent marketing experience on the consumer journey.

No longer will you have silos of content, email, and social media. All components of marketing will work together to achieve common goals and keep one another apprised of their efforts in reaching them.

That may require weekly meetings. Setting goals that each team member works toward in a manner that is in line with overall team efforts. It may require monitoring by the marketing manager to ensure that, across the board, communications and visual branding are uniform.

Yes, it will require a collective mindset shift, but as results improve, your team should reap the benefit of working as a whole.

Change How You Look at the Data

Thus far, marketers have put a lot of energy into Big Data: that massive pile of analytics and insights that, to be honest, few of us really know what to do with. Or else we’re so focused on our marketing silos that we don’t take into account the bleed-over from one channel to another.

Stop thinking in terms of ROI per channel and start looking at connections. For example: maybe you launch a new campaign on Twitter to drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar stores. You can’t solely look at Twitter nor at retail traffic to measure results; you’ve got to assess the two together.

Pay attention to what channels people are using at which parts of the consumer journey. How can you enhance results using other channels? Are you causing a bottleneck with old silos you haven’t gotten rid of?  How can you put the customer at the center of your marketing efforts at each stage of that journey?

Examples of Omni-Channel Success

Imagine a customer browses your website on her desktop and puts an item in her cart. She gets busy, and doesn’t complete the transaction. But later in the day, she visits your mobile site on her phone. To her delight, the item she put in her cart is still there, even though she is on a different device.

Or a customer is checking out at your retail store. Your sales clerk asks for her loyalty card information and then greets her by name and asks how she liked the sweater she bought last month. After she makes the purchase, she receives an email a few days later, asking her to review the pants she bought.

Virgin America is a great real-world example of one that uses consistent messaging — one delivered in an informal and appealing voice — across all of its marketing, from its ads to its onboard safety speech. Customers know what to expect with the brand.

These are all ways your brand can get your marketing efforts in sync to provide a better customer experience. You’ve essentially knit a relationship around her so that, no matter what device or form of shopping she’s doing, you’re right there, delivering value.

Omni-channel takes the “we” out of the equation, and instead focuses completely on the customer and delivering a uniform brand experience to her. If you truly care about building a relationship with your customers, you’ll strive to do just that.