The pandemic brought about a transformative digital shift in the shopping experience. From online shopping to in-store pickup, we can now order most items we need from our phones and grab them curbside without leaving the car.
Recent mobile initiatives at Sam’s Club included an app that lets customers scan items from anywhere in the store and pay for them through their phones — no checkout line — which drove customer spending by 10%. Mobile purchases tripled, growing 25% each month.
The same is true in the lending space; financial institutions are seeing consumer demand for lending opportunities migrate online, too. To take advantage of this transformation, companies must embrace omnichannel marketing to provide customers with loan and credit card offers more effectively, at the time and place when they need them most. But more importantly, omnichannel marketing improves customer experiences, which can drive loyalty and retention, along with the revenue that comes with it.
And yet, only 24% of businesses have invested in omnichannel engagement strategies successfully. Gartner has predicted that 50% of brands will fail to unify customer engagement channels by the end of this year, though not for lack of interest. Up to 94% of marketers believe an omnichannel experience is critical for success, but it cannot be done one small piece at a time. A holistic approach is needed in order for this shift to be consistent and effective.
The Hurdles to Overcome
In 2019, marketers who implemented three or more channels saw an engagement rate of 18.96%, as compared to 5.4% on only one channel, and purchase frequency shot up 250%. However, with more touchpoints comes higher expectations of consistency.
Traditionally, different teams manage different channels, optimizing the choice and delivery to get the best response. However, optimizing each channel individually does not always lead to the optimal customer spending outcome. The team optimizing mail channels might send a customer an offer for a travel rewards card, but another team might send the same customer a banner ad for a cash back card. The messaging is at cross-purposes.
Optimizing each channel and choice individually can end up siloing customer data and preventing companies from having a complete picture of each consumer, which they could use to yield the best response. In a 2014 survey, marketing executives reported that two out of three failed to implement omnichannel approaches because of silos and organizational structures that made coordinating campaigns across various channels challenging. Fragmented channel management can disrupt customers’ buying journey, driving them away from the brand for good.
Marketers need reliable and consistent customer data for an omnichannel strategy to realize its full potential. Users leave behind a lot of data, but 60% of it is outdated within two years. Some 37% of people in the U.S. change their contact details within a year. People get older, move or change life direction, and their values constantly evolve. Add in fragmentation across multiple connected devices — an average of 25 per U.S. household — and it becomes much harder to ensure with certainty that the John Smith encountered through one channel is consistently the same John Smith across all of them. And the more channels to manage, the harder it becomes to coordinate relevant content or individualized offers and deliver consistent messaging.
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A United Identity Turns the Page
For omnichannel marketing to provide seamless customer experiences across all channels and devices, we need a single view of a consumer’s identity that considers everything. With this singular consumer identity, any chief marketing officer would know with consistency across all channels and devices that the customer they contact is the one they want every time.
A single identity allows marketers to create more personalized messages with content that closely matches that consumer’s changing needs. Interactions between a brand and its consumers can be more efficient at each touchpoint, including during customer support inquiries. When John Smith reaches out for support through a laptop chatbot and then again through his cell phone app, instead of having the customer repeat information they already gave through other channels, those interactions can go straight to providing solutions.
A unified identity makes it easier for companies to follow their consumers across multiple devices and channels with confidence in who they are, where they are, and how they interact. Even smaller, niche companies will be better able to keep track of their micro-segments of consumers and create more personalized experiences when they can trust in a unified customer identity.
Rethink Digital Marketing Dollars
Instead of relying on marketing departments alone to take full advantage of the potential for omnichannel experiences, bring in new partners to maximize the benefits. Partner with businesses that can identify and advertise the right products to the right people. Then, look into companies that optimize digital marketing across all channels — from mobile banners and displays to connected TVs or email, and even traditional pre-screened mail offers. In addition, partner with third-party analytics or research groups to draw actionable insights from the data at each touchpoint. Consider exploring new companies that help narrow the view of each consumer into a single, verifiable identity.
Recently, we invested in a company that helps to provide offers through affiliates and aggregators. With their broader vision of consumer behavior across networks and our ability to verify consumer identity, we now know with greater accuracy what channels to use and when to spend marketing dollars to match the exact offer our customers want when they want it.
Once the right partnerships are in place to center around a single consumer identity, marketing budgets and spending can shift from optimizing individual channels to unifying around the consumer. This means bringing together internal teams and uniting individual customer measurement metrics so everyone can understand the effectiveness of each channel. When we get this right, we spend fewer dollars to achieve a better marketing result.
With a deeper understanding of each customer, marketers can combine data into more refined sets of consumers, creating more relevant experiences that reach them at the right moment to have the biggest impact. It may take some time to calibrate how to manage that feedback, but imagine it like an equalizer in an old amplifier: Move the levers up and down and track the movements that work for each customer. Then, collect that data across customer segments and set a marketing budget around that.
Omnichannel marketing with a consumer-centered approach takes marketers from struggling to manage multiple channels to managing all channels with the same reliability and ease. The benefits are there, and the technology is innovating to improve it already. However, it will require a change in how we manage marketing dollars so we can invest in partnering with more expertise. Especially for industries that still rely on outdated marketing models, start investing in innovative approaches to improve omnichannel marketing and get a competitive edge in the digital future.