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Attract and retain customers in an omnichannel world


Omnichannel experiences, another buzzword I hear you say?

No one needs to explain to a marketer that we live in an omnichannel world, after all, they are consumers as well. According to econsultancy, 67% of consumers use different platforms before deciding on a purchase.

Marketers love the concept and why not, the idea not only makes sense but is something you can truly get excited by. Who wouldn’t be interested in the possibility of engaging and connecting with consumers seamlessly across devices and platforms?

But there are challenges, especially for established businesses dealing with legacy systems and ways of doing business. Think technology issues, business siloes, lack of data.   

Why omnichannel?

All businesses, regardless of industry, are interested in acquiring and retaining customers. This will vary from business to business, i.e. a charity will look to raise money for a good cause, a manufacturer – to drive new leads, and a retailer – to sell their wares.

Businesses need customers to survive and thrive. Delivering great omnichannel experiences are a key component for a business looking to grow.

Simply put, the potential benefits of building an omnichannel experience for the business are enormous. There’s a direct correlation between delivering a great experience and an impact on the company’s bottom line (this great article from the Harvard business review covers this in more detail).

Who is doing this well?

Delivering great omnichannel experiences is a way for brands to differentiate themselves from the competition. Brands such as Ralf Lauren, Virgin Atlantic, Oasis, Bank of America are using omnichannel techniques to seamlessly engage with consumers across channels. (http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/omni-channel-user-experience-examples#sm.000019zeeh6cfrer3zhltno8y5aab) 

A paradox: Attracting and retaining customers

Have you ever seen a TV advert which appeared clever but five seconds after it finished you couldn’t remember the name of the product being advertised?

A marketer’s dilemma with delivering an ommnichannel experience is not dissimilar. There’s a fine balancing act in delivering great consumer experience and making sure it is an experience which is optimised for sales.  Examples include consumers preferring not to give away data but data is key for many businesses looking to continue to engage with consumers going forward.

Businesses need to provide a value exchange in every experience.
You give me something and in return, I’ll give you something of equal or greater value.

Companies looking to justify the investment in delivering true omnichannel experiences will need to see cold hard proof which shows the business is benefiting. This benefit in most cases will be measured with metrics which point to an increase in customers and the resultant impact on revenue and overall lifetime customer value.

Is focusing on the bottom line wrong? Well, no. All businesses need revenue to survive and meet their basic obligations such as paying suppliers and wages on time.

But that shouldn’t trivialise the very real pressures marketers have from the business. Delivering a great experience is good for business but they have short-term pressures which they will need to meet.

Short term priorities vs long term priorities

Marketers (and almost everyone else within a business) will be under pressure from two opposing and sometimes not reconcilable forces – short term vs long term thinking.
The classic example is of sales teams offering discounts before the end of quarters in order to meet targets. Short term win but long term loss if those sales could have been acquired later at the higher rate.

Two common examples of short term vs long term prioritisation include:

  • Long term priority: Deliver a great experience to all customers by aligning technology, strategy and planning to deliver a seamless experience across - channel, device and location.
  • Short term priority: Drive sales, leads, enquiries, donations (or whichever your business’ main goal is)

I would argue that by dovetailing what’s good for the consumers in terms of delivering a seamless experience will usually dovetail into what’s good for the business in terms of driving revenue.

The low-cost airline, EasyJet is ruthlessly focused on improving the experience at every touchpoint regardless of device. From desktop to mobile and Apple Watch right through to near-field communication, they believe that improving the experience for their customers will result in happier fliers and new and returning bookings.