Today the buzz word in MARCOM is Omni Channel Marketing. Off late, the marketers started to understand the consumer behavior as the evolution of the technology has enabled all marketers to generate the real time behavioral data based on the online activities of their consumers. The online world is quite different from the offline one. The real-time data on offline behavior are restricted to only sample size as well as the organized segments where each buyer is registered and billed.
As the monetary transactions are moving towards digital, the GST regime is forcing all organized and unorganized players to get into the system that records almost everything that is produced and traded. This transformation is going to change the buying patterns of consumers. The penetration of data driven smart phones is empowering the rural India to use the high-speed internet which is going to help consumer getting the updated information they are looking for.
The emergence of Mobile commerce has made the traditional organized retail to think to venture out in online space to not loose on the consumer buying online. Many established retailers who are strong players locally have entered into e-commerce to stay tuned with times. They are struggling to make space in the online segment while continuing tight rope walk to maintain the historical footfalls intact and increase at a moderate speed.
At the same time, many e-commerce brands are trying to venture in physical stores by opening franchise outlets or self-managed experiential stores such as lenskart.com comes up with franchised outlets, myntra opened in the name of Roadster in Bangalore and many others are in process. This shift from both online brands and offline local strong players want to enter in where they are not operating.
Why is this happening? Let’s try to understand. In today’s world, retail is split into two distinct categories—brick and mortar and e-commerce. It is my belief that over the next five to seven years these two worlds will begin to merge and it will be difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. Each of these worlds has its own strengths and is very good at delivering value in its own way. Brick-and-mortar retail gives customers the touch and feel of products and the feel-good experience of living the brand. E-commerce offers greater choice, convenience, and value. While each of them is delivering to its own strengths, they both fall short of delivering the perfect customer experience.
The biggest challenge is to know whether a customer will opt for an online buy or will walk into the nearest store next time. The time has come to integrate all communication channels those address to customers across all media to provide seamless and equal experience through each communication medium hence to bring online and offline teams on the same platforms to deliver the standards predefined through Omni Channel Marketing strategies.
So, let’s understand, what is omni-channel marketing? The term “omni-channel” may be a marketing buzzword, but it refers to a significant shift, marketers now need to provide a seamless experience, regardless of channel or device. Consumers can now engage with a company in a physical store, on an online website or mobile app, through a catalog, or through social media. They can access products and services by calling a company on the phone, by using an app on their mobile smartphone, or with a tablet, a laptop, or a desktop computer. Each piece of the consumer’s experience should be consistent and complementary.
So, what does that seamless omni-channel experience actually look like? Multi-channel is an operational view, how you allow the customer to complete transactions in each channel. Omni-channel, however, is viewing the experience through the eyes of your customer, building and maintaining the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent. Omni-channel anticipates that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution. Making these complex ‘hand-offs’ between channels must be fluid for the customer. Simply put, omni-channel is multi-channel done right!
Getting started with Omni Channel Marketing: The importance of creating one-on-one experiences lies at the heart of the omni-channel marketing approach. Whether it’s B2B or B2C, modern purchasing behavior is driven by personalized engagement, and this is where omni-channel really hits the mark. By letting the buyer control the process and steer it whichever way he or she wants, you ensure their experience remains seamless and consistent from start to the finish, and perhaps even beyond that.
Here are some tips to implement effective Omni Channel Marketing Strategies:
- Leave behind the traditional thought process.
Everything has changed, and it has completely altered the way business is done. Banking on to traditional methods and old-fashioned ways will only help your competitors get ahead of you. For instance, the traditional sales funnel is dead. So stop thinking of your customers in terms of a number of leads down the funnel. Treat them as real people and focus on personalizing each of their interactions and experiences with your brand. This approach not only works for omni-channel marketing but forms the base for any good marketing strategy.
- Get a comprehensive yet single view of your customers.
This is one of the most important steps in an omni-channel marketing strategy, yet can be the most challenging. It is important because your customers are interacting with your brand from a variety of different channels. Marketers, therefore, need to create a consolidated and well-coordinated customer profile that provides a holistic picture of the buyer and helps them create a complete customer experience. How can you do that? A few key strategies for getting a better single view of your customers include asking the right questions about your customers’ persona and then using tools and technology to collect and apply the right data. My colleague at V3B, Shelly Kramer, discussed this recently in the light of a new report “Solving the Identity Puzzle,”, a leading provider of cross-channel marketing technology.
- Interact with customers on the channels they want to.
We all know how customers are fluttering back and forth between multiple devices for a single transaction. For brands to provide a satisfying customer experience, they need to keep all their channels open for customers to interact with them — be it email, social media, video chat, text messaging, or the plain, old voice call.
- Make friends with data be it Real Time or Historical.
Marketing without data is practically impossible in the current business environment, and that will likely continue to be a reality. Before you get started with your omni-channel marketing approach, you need to have a proper data strategy in place to be able to collect and gain insights from the information that’s driving in from all corners.
The purchase journey is only getting more complicated with different layers and distinctions added all the time. With customers in the driver’s seat, marketers have no option but to play by their rules. Omni-channel marketing is a sound step in that direction.