Shifting to omni-channel marketing? Do you have the right resources?
Before we talk about what it takes for a successful Omni-channel Marketing, we need to understand what it really means and understand the challenges it presents.
The term does feel like another Buzzword that you would rather strike off from your vocab. But this term aptly describes the increasingly complex, multi device, multi-channel, customer journey.
Today customers move between TV, Display and Online. Within Online, they go through search, emails, social media. The same customer accesses your content though Multiple devices such as Laptop, Tablet and smart phone. And they expect same consistency of experience, regardless of the mode they choose, throughout their purchase journey.
The biggest challenge for implementing the Omni-channel marketing strategy right is getting the tools that you need and getting them working together. Most of the marketers struggle to implement successful Omni-channel strategy due to lack of tool that they need to provide a one on one personalized experience. With Marketing automation, predictive analytics, real-time personalization platform and CRM systems, the marketing team is usually struggling to keep up. It is important that marketing professionals ensure that they use the data provided by each of these effectively. They need to do this while protecting the data and also ensuring that it is being used in a manner that is helpful and beneficial to the customer.
A successful initiative for Omni-channel marketing needs to address the following major issues.
Automation. Automation is more than just mass email solution. Automation can cover a vast array of activities, from distributing marketing content online, to supporting self-service environment for placing orders. A good automation solution automates end to end process, along with measuring activities and providing business intelligence on trends and performance. End to End automation can prove difficult without the right portfolio of technologies. A good integrated platform can reduce cost to serve by more than 70%, if implemented efficiently.
Adoption. Simply having a fully integrated platform in place will not achieve its objective unless people embrace the platform. This is more than just accepting it. They need to be coaxed into mastering it, using all the features it has to offer. If the system cannot be mastered easily, then the innovative capabilities that it offers, will likely be neglected. In same way, the users must be able to quickly and easily perform their function, whether its aligning to buyer preference or providing the capabilities to sales teams and partners that help them do their job better. Failure of adoption will hamper any Omni-channel effort right from the start. As an example, in the past, difficulties in getting dealers and other channel partners to use the partner relationship management software, has hammered many channel management initiatives.
Agility. Staying on top of market is necessary for any marketing initiative, more-so for Omni-channel marketing initiatives. Understanding market dynamics, grabbing opportunities quickly, being responsive to customers and outclassing competition is always required of any worthy marketing team. Superior insights into trends, customer behavior and internal processes enable firms to rapidly respond with changes to selling, managing partners, product life cycles, prices and capacity. Key to this agility is to have process automation in place, that can be easily reconfigured as the business evolves or gets reinvented. As an example, the telecom world can now quickly change price plans, promotions, agreements, in response to market trends, with their fully integrated, agile systems, to reduce churn and increase their average revenue per user.
Rationalization. With so many tools available, rationalizing the usage of tools is necessary. Unless a firm is relatively new in market, it must have already made investments in different technological assets. There may have been some business assets (such as storefronts), that were created as an experiment. Some tools for sales automation and channel management may have been implemented in piecemeal over time. Supporting and managing these disparate point solutions is not only cumbersome, it may actually be more expensive to implement central idea of Omni-channel marketing, i.e. consistency of experience on these. To realistically pursue an Omni-channel initiative, capabilities need to be consolidated onto one platform that is easy to configure, scale and administer, providing the agility to change quickly.
Consistency. Consistency is vital in Omni-channel marketing. Product data, prices, promotions, content and experience must be harmonized across different sales team, partners and storefronts. Significant variation between marketing and selling practices can equally confuse customers, prospects and partners. Technology plays a vital role in managing communication, processes and resources across channels and reduce the appearance of discrepancies and channel conflicts.
To provide a consistent view across various channels, and yet deliver the same experience across all channels, the synchronization of digital capabilities utilized across these channels is vital. Some of the important digital commerce capabilities that must be consistent all across are:
- Catalog Management. Managing product data and all supporting content such as technical documentation and sales documentation across multiple catalogs with complex product hierarchies is the key to consistency. Change must flow instantly across catalogs of all relevant platforms so that customers, partners and own teams see same information at same time.
- Guided Buying/selling – Standard models, question and answer surveys. product recommendation engines, Product substitution, upgrades and additional options, freeing the customer/partner to choose his most comfortable channel and not be bound to any particular one. Machine drive analytics based on customer behavior can be applied to make product recommendations.
- Ordering and Billing – This brings together the buying and fulfillment experience. The process must be fast, seamless and flawless. In Online mode, smooth checkout process and secure payment process are both a must. In B2B, the relevant quote and proposal information should flow into orders and contracts without the need of duplicate data entry and errors, with all details passing onto billing systems seamlessly.
- Usability – User adoption is critical for any platform. Intuitive, high quality experience will eventually reduce the learning curve, ensuring the success of the system and improve Brand image
- Analytics – Get real time trends in buying patterns and understanding of business trends such as demand for products, prices and discounting activities. Predictive and prescriptive analytics can help in reduction of sales cycle time, improve conversion rates and win rates. The revenue can be examined more deeply, by region, by team, by channel, by product, customer segment or any other dimension.
Omni-channel marketing activities cannot be taken as a piecemeal approach. All the pieces must be integrated and deployed together as part of comprehensive strategy. To realize the full benefit, all the pieces of the marketing jigsaw, must work together seamless, to give a consistent experience to buyers.
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