If you’re in marketing, there’s a good chance you’re using multiple channels to engage customers.
But can you say with confidence that your company is a mature omnichannel practitioner, one that maximizes its omnichannel strategies? Are you taking a customer-led, insights-driven approach that leads to revenue growth and improved customer experience?
At Emarsys, we’re more than mildly interested in what it takes to achieve business outcomes with omnichannel marketing, and we wanted to explore these questions and more to uncover why some brands are more successful with their omnichannel strategies than others. To try to find answers, we partnered with business analyst Forrester®. In the study The Omnichannel Difference: How The Most Customer-Focused Companies Deliver The Value of Omnichannel, Forrester lays out their findings from a survey of 622 manager-level-and-above respondents, comparing more mature, customer-obsessed companies with less mature companies that are not customer obsessed. Forrester defines customer-obsessed companies as ones that put “customers at the center of leadership, strategy, and operations.”
What this article won’t do is rehash the entire report. Instead of a ho-hum summary (*yawn*), read on to get a quick fix with key highlights and explore the study’s five key recommendations for maximizing your omnichannel strategy.
Sneak Peek: Key Findings from The Omnichannel Difference
For this study, Forrester asked respondents to take their Customer Obsession Assessment in order to compare low-maturity (non-customer-obsessed) and high-maturity (customer-obsessed) companies.
Here’s a quick look at some of the findings:
- Business maturity: Just 15% of companies met Forrester’s criteria for classification as mature, or customer-obsessed.
- Customer experience: While 67% of respondents from more-mature firms say their firm is likely to prioritize customer experience in the next 12 months, only 45% from less-mature firms say the same.
- Innovation: Respondents from more-mature firms were also vastly more likely to say that their firm would prioritize improving their ability to innovate (74%) over respondents from less-mature firms (35%).
- Data: Furthermore, 70% of respondents from more-mature firms are vastly more likely to say that their company has an “established, fully documented, unified data model” as opposed to 30% of respondents from less-mature firms.
- Personalization: Sixty-eight percent of respondents from more-mature firms say that their company prioritizes cross-channel personalization, compared with just 34% of respondents from less-mature firms answering the same question.
- Outcomes: While 62% of respondents from customer-obsessed firms report increased sales of higher-margin items, just 45% of respondents from non-customer-obsessed firms say the same. For each area related to business outcomes (loyalty, CX, etc.), customer-obsessed firms scored higher than non-customer obsessed firms.
This is just a small sample of the data points found in the full study, but you might already be seeing a consistent trend: that customer-obsessed organizations really do put the customer at the center of everything they do. Not only that, but they reap benefits from their customer-led point of view.
Strategies for Maximizing Omnichannel Outcomes
The following list focuses on the five key recommendations from The Omnichannel Difference. Check out these tips and the resources provided to get into the customer-obsessed mindset that leads to growth and innovation.
1. Listen to Your Customers
Listening to your customers is the obvious and most ideal place to start if you want to put customers at the center of your marketing.
During the Power to the Marketer Festival, Linh Calhoun, CMO of Replacements Ltd, spoke with Joanna Milliken, CEO of Emarsys, about the importance of customer experience and customer feedback.
“When we think about Replacements, our mission is to really create meaningful experiences in relationships for our employees, our customers, and our communities. And how we see that and how that is manifested is through looking at our customer comments, through our daily CSAT [customer satisfaction] surveys, they leave us these amazing notes and remind us what we do, why we do, and give us ideas as to how we could do it differently.”
To watch Linh’s full interview, register for the festival on-demand, access the portal, and watch the mainstage session for Day 1. If you’re already registered, click here and log in to the festival portal. Linh’s interview starts at 09:12.
However, reading reviews is only one of many ways to get to know your customers at a deeper and more meaningful level. Customer-centric companies also…
- Interpret customer insights. Every time your customers interact with you, you gain insights about them. Of course, that can be a lot of data, which is why leading marketers use AI to analyze patterns and make predictions about customer behaviors.
- Act on customer needs. After gaining customer insights, you have the power to act on them. Using automations and AI-based segmentation, you can serve up personalized, relevant content.
- Monitor the results of customer engagement (and keep testing). Measuring your success over and over and making adjustments will allow you to keep improving. Test your channel mix and make adjustments. Modify campaigns bit by bit. Try different offer levels or product recommendations. Keep improving incrementally.
2. Innovate Your Relationship Marketing Foundation
Acquisition isn’t everything! The way you nurture relationships with existing customers, guiding them through the customer lifecycle, can have a huge influence on your overall customer lifetime value.
The Omnichannel Difference recommends creating more dynamic, customized communications to help you stand out from the competition.
Here are a few ideas for engaging your customer base:
- Define your customer journey and explore the customer lifecycle so that you know when people are likely to buy and when they’re likely to churn. Then be proactive and engage them in real time on the right channels. (Check out our tips for Facebook ads and emails that support your customer lifecycle.)
- Use your customer engagement platform to build AI-based segments that predict customer behavior and serve up targeted cross-channel campaigns.
- Make sure customers experience consistent and seamless interactions across channels. For example, if a customer purchases a product from your mobile app, their next email should include tailored recommendations based on that purchase.
3. Partner to Extend Your Capabilities
When it comes to omnichannel marketing, never fight your battles alone!
Be sure to partner with tech vendors and other external resources that understand your needs and can support your goals.
Linh Calhoun, mentioned above, knows the value of finding the right partner.
“In the past, I’ve received lots of hype and then a humongous price tag from salespeople offering all sorts of solutions. The thing that I appreciated from the interaction with Emarsys was that they heard us. They did their due diligence. The Emarsys platform was applicable to what we were looking for, and it didn’t feel exaggerated. I really appreciated the straight talk from Emarsys.”
Read the full case study with Replacements, Ltd.
4. Own Vendor Relationships
Make sure you’re working with a vendor you can trust. A great vendor relationship is marked by clear expectations on both sides, ongoing and open communication, and established goals. But if your vendor relationship isn’t working out for you, you might have to take action to find one that will.
If you’re considering replacing a current martech vendor, check out our MarTech RFP Guide. Even if you aren’t running an official RFP, the tips in this ebook are lifesavers. Plus, the ebook includes dozens of questions you can ask prospective vendors to help guide your decision-making process.
We recently explored the warning signs for when it’s time to leave a current vendor in our break-up series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Here’s a small sampling of warning signs from each:
- Spotting Cross-Channel Personalization Red Flags: If your marketing cloud makes connecting your data difficult and overly complex, run for the hills.
- Overcoming the Perils of Platform Overload: If your team is wasting time and energy moving between platforms, it’s time to start shopping for martech that can consolidate your data and save you energy.
- Steering Clear of Slow Implementation Quicksand: If your martech leaves you dependent on professional services to make adjustments to cross-channel automations, find a platform that lets you adapt rapidly to market changes.
5. Continue Investment
With the economy in a shaky state, many marketing departments lean toward conservative budgets. But this is actually one of the worst times to stop investing in innovation and channel experimentation.
When you stop innovating, competitors have greater opportunities to fill the gaps left behind. Also, when other competitors leave openings and back off, you can step in and take the spotlight.
So how can you remain innovative without breaking the piggy bank?
Above all, keep testing and think agile.
Rather than busting your budget on one large experiment, aim for small, proof-of-concept trials. Stay agile and make minor, incremental changes to existing campaigns, automations, and retention programs.
Make Omnichannel a Part of Your Business Mindset
The path to omnichannel success doesn’t start with a single project or a committee or even a particular tech platform; rather, it starts with taking one step at a time to put the customer at the center of everything your business does.
If you’re interested in learning more about omnichannel and how customer-obsession influences business outcomes, we have an upcoming webinar on The Omnichannel Difference, featuring Shar VanBoskirk, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester. The webinar will be held November 10th at 11 am EST / 4 pm GMT.
We hope to see you there!
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