Four Critical Success Factors for Omnichannel Marketing

Posted on by John Polcari

True omnichannel marketing requires thinking differently about people, processes and technologies. Do you have what it takes to be an omnichannel marketer? To find out, let’s examine four critical success factors, as well as a blueprint for building a workable strategy.

1. Listen to customer needs

The reason to implement an omnichannel marketing strategy is customer driven; not because it’s trendy, looks good on the resume or because it’s what the competition is doing. For a company to be successful at omnichannel marketing – that is, to plan, execute, measure and optimize efforts through every marketing touchpoint experienced by your target audience, while making more money at it – customer needs and the knowledge of those needs must become the center of all decisions. This is the most dramatic transformation required. Technology, process and other decisions will follow.

Believing that customers’ needs come first is not a utopian ideal, but a business necessity. The reason your company exists is because of your customers, and making them want to select your products or services through appropriate marketing is the business reality. Customer centricity has been overused as a term, but the underlying point is valid. A clear test of any investment in a channel is whether customers will spend more with you or become advocates that help drive others to spend with you.

2. Determine necessary channels and communications

To identify which channels to put effort and expenditure into, which to ignore, and which to place on the long term roadmap, start with an assessment of existing channel use and resulting customer and business benefits. This assessment should be conducted within your market sector and among your closest competitors, since restricting channel assessment to your own customers may be self-fulfilling (they aren’t using certain channels because you don’t support them).

What you may find in this needs assessment might surprise you. Some channels may need minimum presence, while others may be places where you aren’t even aware you’re losing customers. For example, if you aren’t sending emails that are mobile responsive you may want to make an immediate investment there. You may be seeing a churn cost if you’re not considering customer service complaint information in your interactions. You could be losing opportunities by not having a presence in social or a mobile enabled website, and so on. The cost of not being in a digital channel is typically very measurable.

Having a single customer view (SCV) is the ideal backbone for understanding customer needs and the financial outcomes of not meeting them. It also clearly identifies the conversations you need to generate to help convert, retain or upsell your customers, as well as which action is appropriate at what time, what the messaging should contain, and through which channel. To form the SCV, map out customer interactions across different business areas and the associated impact upon initial and future transactions. This gives a clear picture of the room for improvement and the data sources that are a priority to include in your view of the customer.

3. Support cross-company communications

Once you know which channels you need to be marketing in, here comes the really fun bit. Customer needs reach beyond marketing; they are interlinked and cannot be treated in isolation. A company needs to support this. When a customer is upset about receiving an offer immediately following a full-priced purchase they don’t care that marketing is a separate business unit with its own budget.

Suppressing offers to those who have just purchased at full price; surprising and delighting high value customers that have a high churn score; changing website content based on a visitor’s web interactions; and excluding people who are dealing with customer service issues, are all examples of customer-centricity that involve multiple business units. You will need support across departments and coordinated communications to construct a true customer journey.

Marketing needs to be aware of, and ideally have some control over, communications that may not originate in marketing. This is a gradual evolution and requires senior commitment and acceptance of the mantra: as long as the customer benefits, everyone benefits. A possible approach is a cross-department “customer budget,” that will allow use of companywide resources if marketing (or another area) can prove that an initiative will directly benefit the consumer. Since certain customer needs will not fit neatly into one department, this helps assign accountability across the organization. Some companies even take this one step further by exposing handpicked customer advocates to this process and letting them input into new initiatives.

4. Act on the knowledge

Having technology to allow full use of this intelligence – the ability to initiate appropriate, automated and adhoc conversations at the right stage in the customer journey in an easy-to-use, multichannel environment – is the next piece of the jigsaw. Ensure the software can record and respond to the customer’s reaction, so that it is a conversation, not just a one-way communication. Also, make sure your software provider can support all the channels needed or has strong partnerships with those that can, and has strong marketing services to support this process. They can help with the initial resource spike in setting up new automated campaigns by putting the right models, rules and contact strategy in place. Their previous experience in this process is invaluable at speeding it up and will drastically reduce the time it takes for you to see a return on your investment.

If you listen to your customers needs, commit to supporting these needs, and ensure the actions are financially robust, you can support the actions and the marketing revenue will follow.

John Polcari is senior vice president of marketing at Zeta Interactive.


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