By Marie Honme, Senior Marketing Strategist, Data Axle
The concept of a cohesive omnichannel program that is truly engaging and effective is a daunting prospect for most marketers, given the ever-proliferating array of channels and tools at an organization’s disposal. Today more than ever, organizations need to put their customers at the center of their marketing programs and build plans based on a deep understanding of where and how they can deliver the most value. Let’s take a look at a few often-overlooked principles that can help marketers focus their omnichannel efforts.
Omnichannel Efforts Should Consider All Viable Channels
Once there was multichannel. Now, there is omnichannel. New channels are established all the time. By aligning with the latest trend, a brand can always broaden its media mix and compete in multiple channels. However, the essence of omnichannel marketing is a holistic approach. Which combinations of channels will be most effective in meeting the campaign objectives? How will those channels complement each other in a cohesive experience?
While advances in digital marketing have borne channels like email, social, display and mobile messaging, mapping the right omnichannel experience means considering all available and viable channels. For direct-to-consumer marketing, direct mail and TV have gradually become overlooked within the omnichannel mix due to their comparatively high costs versus digital ads, as well as the legacy notion that measurement and attribution of TV and direct mail are incompatible with digital media. This isn’t necessarily the case.
Thanks to technology enhancements over the past decade, the ROI of traditional marketing channels like direct mail and TV are infinitely measurable within the broader media mix. Because of that, the ability to test and optimize across channels means spend in those channels can be managed on an ongoing basis for maximum efficiencies.
Don’t Neglect Your Website
In addition, marketers mustn’t overlook their own websites as a vital component of a true omnichannel approach. Particularly in the B2C space these days, marketers tend to view their websites as simply a place to capture conversions, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. People still come to branded sites to learn, browse and engage, and a true omnichannel strategy should recognize and be prepared to deliver lasting engagement when customers and prospects hit the brand’s site.
Harney & Sons, my current favorite brand that handles omnichannel well, accomplished this masterfully this past holiday season by using email to drive me toward deeper engagement on its website through a holiday sweepstakes game, a clever and sticky content experience.
Gamification is a strong engagement driver, and it can deliver sustained interest over a predetermined period. It may take considerable effort and planning, but the strategy delivers dividends in both engagement and (if planned properly) useful customer insights that can be leveraged in future campaigns. Among many other benefits, gamified campaigns can offer insights into things like product preference and incentives that motivate your customers.
Omnichannel Marketers Mustn’t Give into Age Stereotypes
As marketers incorporate traditional channels into their omnichannel efforts, they must also resist the urge to be overly simplistic in how they segment audiences by channel. For example, it’s tempting to think of direct mail as a channel that’s relevant only among older segments of your audience. But that’s simply not the case. These days, many Millennials consider direct mail, including catalogs, to be a welcome and effective reprieve from digital inundations. Given the opportunity, consider testing direct mail with your younger audiences.
For example, in addition to its intuitive, engaging website that provides personalized recommendations to visitors and prompts them to sign up for alerts on upcoming promotions, Harney & Sons’ catalog represents a prime example of the type of content-driven mailings likely to resonate with younger audiences that have grown weary of the hard sells within their social feeds. The brand makes its catalog available in print and digital formats, both of which retain the same high production value. In my case, likely because I’m a frequent customer, the brand sent me a full-color print catalog. I held onto it for a while because of its content and quality, and it has been one more reason why the brand stays on my mind.
Avoiding Redundancy Requires Channel Awareness
One of the greatest hazards of omnichannel marketing, particularly across digital ad channels, is brand fatigue through redundancy. When it feels like a brand is in your face everywhere you turn, it simply becomes annoying. Here again, we see the importance of channel-aware relevance. Done well, omnichannel marketing should speak to the strength of each individual channel and create a journey for consumers that engages them in a unique way at each touchpoint.
For example, while Harney & Sons knows me via direct mail, email and on its website, it also knows me on social media. Rather than repeating messaging that I’ve seen elsewhere, the brand only seems to use social channels to retarget me when I’ve browsed but have not purchased. This is likely due to an effort to prioritize the brand’s media spend toward acquisition. Prioritizing each channel like this paves the way for a better customer-driven journey.
It’s Not About Being in All the Places. It’s About Being in the Right Places
Marketing message volume is expected to increase an astounding 40 percent in 2021, meaning consumers are about to be swamped by more emails, mobile messages and digital ads than ever before. Brands need to respond to this influx not by yelling louder and in more places, but by getting serious about relevancy both in terms of channel and messaging.
Not all customers will engage with a brand in every channel, and your channel strategy should be structured to support each customer’s unique journey. Campaigns should be planned to not only accomplish their immediate communication objectives but also to help you learn how best to allocate your resources across channels. To unlock these possibilities, think carefully about the audience and try to keep an open mind at the start of campaign planning. In a world where consumers are more inundated than ever, be the brand that knows and delights them when and where they welcome it.