Like most small businesses you’ve hopefully already got an engaging website that’s constructed for maximum SEO impact and an online social media presence. In isolation these channels may work alright but when it comes to today’s omni-channel customer – gaps, inconsistencies and a lack of a personalised brand experience may be letting you down.
If you want to hold on to your customers, providing them with an irresistible consumer experience is essential. So what are the components of marketing success when it comes to keeping your audience on board? How can you provide every single contact with the attention, care and value that’s needed to keep them coming back? In many cases, the answer lies in the adoption of an omni-channel approach to your marketing.
To succeed in business today, retaining customer loyalty and engagement through omni-channel marketing is the key to an ongoing improvement in your bottom line and a sustainable, competitive edge.
So, what is omni-channel?
Omni-channel marketing is an approach which is based on marrying up communication channels across multiple devices to provide a single, coherent, engaging message and experience which is consistently given, regardless of the channel.
Currently many businesses operate a silo mentality when it comes to their communication – customers might receive one message when they reach the corporate website and another when they ask a question on social media. They may contact your organisation to find that James from accounts says yes to their request, only to later find out that Fiona from contracts says no.
Mobile access too may pose particular problems, with a significant number of businesses failing to provide appropriate mobile accessibility.
A successful omni-channel business will be clear on what it communicates to its customers and ensure that a consistent message is always received. They will strive to add value to the customer experience at every level; from hot, engaging online content that’s of genuine worth through to a host of little touches that show customers they matter. Omni-channel means an end to scatter gun marketing and the creation of a single, overarching way of communicating.
Six keys to creating a successful omni-channel customer experience:
#1. Create a dialogue
In today’s digital economy one thing is for sure – it’s no longer about you. Creating a dialogue with your prospects and customers is about understanding them and communicating what’s important to them. Start with creating a series of buyer personas for your target market. These include their goals and challenges, where they go for information, what are their common objections to doing business with you, what can we offer them and so on. Once we know who we are really talking to we can start a dialogue about something worth engaging in a conversation about!
#2. Be accessible
Today’s sales process takes 22 percent longer that 5 years ago. Your potential customers are doing more and more of their research and buying journey online.
As a business you need to be able to engage with them wherever they are and make sure that they receive the same exceptional service and level of interaction. Obviously strong mobile accessibility is critical to success in many cases – consumers need to be able to interact easily and comprehensively through their small screens.
Your brand also needs to be visible in the right spaces, either real or virtual, that are frequented by your audience. Snapchat, for example, is almost exclusively used by the under 30s – a great option if you’re promoting fashionable clothing or a gaming accessory but perhaps not so appropriate for a B2B initiative or retirement village information!
#3. Be consistent
One of the major cultural shifts to omni-channel marketing involves the removal of the operational barriers which had kept communication in separate silos. Critical to the success of the omni-channel approach is the understanding that your brand is now a single entity with an appealing and consistent message. So, whether your customers ring you, email you, reach out to you through social media or instant message you, they should receive the same, personalised, helpful service. In fact, according to The Future of Commerce report almost half of B2B buyers prefer to use consumer websites to make a work-related purchase because of the experience.
#4. Deliver a personalised experience
No one wants to be just a number, which is why the personal touch is absolutely vital if an omni-channel approach is going to work. It’s time to start talking to an audience of one. In the true omni-channel world you know where every prospect sits in the buyer journey. For example, if someone is merely looking for information at a high level they are considered to be at the top of the funnel whereby if they are considering providers for a particular service or product they are ‘middle of the funnel’. Personalising your messaging to suite their lifecycle stage makes the experience more relevant and engaging.
The micromanagement of each client not only ensures that they receive a highly relevant service that’s customised to their circumstances, it also enables you to quickly quantify what methods of communication or promotions are working best, allowing rapid marketing adjustment to draw more of your audience in.
#5. Pick your channels with care
Whilst wide distribution of your message and a strong online and real life presence are prerequisites of marketing success, it’s no use being widely known if you’re not known in the right circles!
Each communication channel, be it email, billboards, a YouTube video or Instagram, has specific demographics. By selecting those channels which net the largest number of your target group, you stand the greatest chance of getting that all-important dialogue going. It’s important to remember that the right channels for your marketing can vary as time goes on. Not only does social media use change quite rapidly, but as your market grows, it could well be that some channels appear to perform more effectively than others. Test and measure the effectiveness of all your channels to see which are working well and which are not.
#6. Bridge the gap between online and offline
In a digitally driven marketplace it is often easy to overlook the basic old-school marketing channels we’ve used for years. For example, good old trade shows remain the top source for B2B lead generation according to MediaPost with 77 percent of businesses saying they generate a significant quantity of leads. Your omni-channel marketing strategy should consider traditional channels like live events, TV, radio, print and direct mail as well as the digital ecosystem.
Tony Eades is the CEO and Director of Strategy at BrandManager, a brand strategy, communications and inbound marketing agency based in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.