In our highly competitive global marketplace, enterprises understand they would have a pretty hard time of it if they treated customers like the poor unfortunates who populate Dickens’ stories set in 19th century England.

Unlike Oliver Twist’s fellow consumers, who arguably had limited buying power, today’s buyers aren’t exactly starved for choice when it comes to the endless array of goods and services available today. Advanced mobile technology and Ecommerce have leveled the playing field even further, creating a more buyer-friendly market that continually challenges organizations to create the best possible experience for their consumers if they want to stay in the game.

Multi-Channel Marketing is a fundamental stepping stone to Omni-channel Marketing

To capture and retain a loyal customer following, most companies have already invested in various forms of multi-channel marketing with tolerable results. These channels—websites, mobile-friendly technology, Facebook, Twitter, bricks-and-mortar locations, and customer service units, for example—will always be a part of an enterprise’s marketing foundation to engage and interact with customers.

However, unconnected multi-channel marketing can leave some unpredictable gaps in service that raise questions or lead to significantly more negative customer interactions and, consequently, decreased sales.

Multi-Channel marketing simply isn’t designed to provide that seamless, more personalized approach across all marketing channels that today’s customers have come to expect. The good news is that customer dissatisfaction leads to growth and innovation.

Today’s customers expect to conduct a transaction on a PC or tablet, check their order on a mobile phone, verify a price in a store, also on a mobile phone, or contact a friendly, knowledgeable service rep who uses guided script technology to quickly navigate customers through issues. For those and other customer-centric features it’s time to graduate to the Omni-Channel Way. Making the case for an Omni-Channel business model

The last several years have seen some incredible leaps in technology that can help drive businesses forward when Multi-Channel marketing is no longer enough to build, sustain, and grow a strong customer base.

Building an Omni-Channel marketing program is the current best way to connect all the dots to give your organization the means to provide each customer with a more personalized, responsive experience.

Omni-Channel is the house that shelters and feeds all the digital marketing channels, collecting data that is integrated with industry-relevant information and client transactional data which includes silo-ed, individual buyer information to create a more holistic customer profile. This creates a target-rich environment in which emails, product suggestions, and website search and display marketing fall on more fertile ground.

Omni-Channel’s biggest advantage is its focus on incorporating what your customers perceive to be helpful data on their behalf, which translates to better customer experiences and increased sales. Marketing Analytics will identify strengths and weaknesses in your Omni-Channel program

We tell our clients that the crucial component necessary to ensure a thriving Omni-Channel program requires an ongoing Marketing Analytics strategy. Marketing Analytics works behind the curtain to evaluate and measure the effectiveness of your marketing channels to provide better insight and direction toward future marketing decisions.

Every business has a unique business personality that will depend on some marketing channels over others. Adding Marketing Analytics to your Omni-Channel can help your business figure out what those channels are, with various benchmarks involving time, manpower, and cost-benefit ratios.

Website search vs. display banner advertising is a good example. Marketing Analytics can help your business discover over time if your website’s search advertising ends up costing more per ad than a display banner, based on number of customer clicks measured against actual sales figures attributed to those clicks.

When it comes to measuring the influence your Omni-Channel has on customer buying behaviors, the possibilities are vast. Marketing Analytics tools and techniques provide the keys to truly optimizing the ROI of your Omni-Channel program.

Some thoughts on where to start in creating a workable Omni-Channel program

No business wants to be accused of being a Mr. Bumble for treating their customers like poor Oliver. Building an Omni-Channel marketing program is a sound strategy in today’s digital world to avoid that trap, by offering multiple, interconnected channels on myriad smart devices to encourage positive consumer interactions and improve sales conversion rates.

However, a tone-deaf, ill-planned program deployed without forethought can also lead a business down a path to significantly more negative customer interactions and lost revenue.

With that in mind, we tell our clients that before defining goals and building a project roadmap, the key decision-makers must have two things:

1) A thorough understanding of their own business and operations; and

2) An honest, outside assessment detailing where their business lands on the spectrum of Multi-Channel maturity from several views, including channel capabilities, data assets, in-house talent, and existing technology.

From there, the rules of good project management apply, in the following order:

• Decide who will be executive sponsor from start to finish

• Choose project leader and select professional consultants

• Build a team of in-house stakeholders, involving all impacted business units

• Develop goals and create project roadmap

• Develop a schedule and segment it into progress benchmarks (ex.: 3-, 6-, 9-, 12-, 18-months)

• Design the technology infrastructure, incorporating existing channels and creating new channels as required

• Design, test, and deploy marketing analytics

(About the author: Ron Brooks is vice president of strategic analytics and data science at CBIG Consulting)

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