6 Ways to Thrive in Today’s Challenging Omnichannel Economy
By Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO of Hawthorne Advertising and YPO member
Today’s marketing landscape is broader, deeper and more complex than ever before. There are more channels, more choices and more customers who get more savvy every day. Thriving in this “omnichannel marketing” playground is a balancing act. Companies have to continuously evaluate and strengthen customer touchpoints while delivering a consistent and seamless experience across all channels.
It’s no easy task. My advice? Put the customer at the center, enact a prudent and adaptable plan that focuses on delivering consistency, measure constantly and be willing to take some risks. To that end, here are my top tips for effective omnichannel marketing:
Start with the customer
Every customer wants to feel like your best customer, and the only way to deliver this is to put your customer at the center of your omnichannel approach. Whether calling in, walking in, shopping online or interacting any way, they expect a personal, seamless and pleasurable experience. Fine-tune all your customer touchpoints so they deliver on this, including social media and mobile sites. And remember, it isn’t just the purchasing experience that matters. Customers expect to be able to research product options (i.e., read product reviews on smartphones while standing in the retail store aisle), access coupons via text or a website, or even contact customer support using Facebook or Twitter. Bottom line: The customer is king — or queen — and every interaction with them matters.
Unify the customer experience
In theory, it sounds simple. But maintaining consistency across various marketing channels is an ongoing challenge. The first step is to take a holistic look at all your marketing, advertising, sales and even product return activities. Then, examine each to make sure they are delivering a personalized experience that’s also uniform. That may mean focusing less on individual channel performance correlated to revenue goals or other specific measurements. You may also have to restructure processes and even your organization to eliminate silos and encourage cohesiveness.
Make sure to provide a seamless experience, regardless of channel or device. The optimization of cross-screen attribution methodologies allows a marketer to fine-tune creative content advertising by channel and device, as well as identify attribution insights driving media optimization for e-commerce and drive to retail campaigns.
Adopt integrated strategies across advertising
Adopting cohesive and well-connected strategies across various advertising channels can lead to greater success. That means integration among digital (online and mobile) and search-engine marketing, television, over-the-top (OTT) content, video on demand, print, radio and display ads. Be sure to leverage multivariate testing — a technique for testing a hypothesis in which multiple variables are modified to determine landing page conversions, display ad effectiveness and other important measurements. And take time to review the ways consumers interact with your brand across all platforms. You’ll be able to draw fresh insights into their buying preferences, engagement times and transaction history.
Continuously track, measure and optimize
Collect data and learn how to effectively analyze and use it. It’s not just about having all the numbers and statistics at your fingertips. You can use the data to predict where the consumer is going to be, how they will be buying and how you can reach them in that setting — and at the right time. Use the data to stay ahead of the curve and to not only execute on a one-time basis, but also to duplicate the data in a way that allows you to repeat the successes and avoid mistakes.
I recommend using multi-touch attribution, mixed-media modeling and ingestion of first-party customer data that’s layered with second- and third-party data to provide a 360-degree analytic view, which will connect brands with customers to gain deeper insights. We’ve learned at Hawthorne, through experience, that custom-built analytics tools and methodologies utilizing real-time customer data gives companies insights to optimize marketing strategies.
Test, learn, test and repeat
There is no magic formula for omnichannel marketing. In fact, this is one of the most common mistakes companies make as they embark on their own omnichannel strategy. Instead, be prepared to put in time, patience and perseverance to discover the right formulas and implement them. And remember, digital media isn’t a panacea. Sure, you can achieve some quick results with digital media. But there’s no guarantee it will deliver the customer response you’re looking for. Nor does it always help customers find your products or services.
It takes constant tracking, measuring and optimizing. Track the consumer path to conversion across all screens and devices used by the target demographic, from TV to desktop and mobile. Measure the fractional response and weighted conversions that each media channel is individually driving, from linear TV to streaming and pre-roll video. Optimize the media allocation between media platforms to maximize reach, consumer response and ROI per advertising dollar on a weekly basis.
The days of “set it and forget it” media planning are gone. Data are always moving, and weekly optimization is key so use real-time data.
Take some risks
Be on the lookout for — and open to — emerging trends. For example, begin investigating the effectiveness of voice search, especially with the growth of smart speaker sales in the past year. Voice search has a lot of potential in microtargeting a local market. However, technology is still being developed to better optimize search results and the individual will need to learn how to succinctly communicate with the audio device to get relevant results.
By integrating these essential practices into your marketing strategy, you’ll be in a great position to realize the real power of the omnichannel. Just remember: Don’t expect immediate results (patience is a virtue here), and continuously test new techniques and selling strategies before you launch them. And perhaps most importantly, always keep your customers at the center.
Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is the CEO of Hawthorne Advertising, an award-winning, technology-based advertising agency specializing in analytics and accountable brand campaigns. Hawthorne Advertising has a legacy of ad industry leadership by being a visionary in combining the art of right-brain creativity with the science of left-brain data analytics and neuroscience. Hawthorne-Castro’s role principally involves fostering long-standing client relationships with the company’s expansive base of Fortune 500 brands to develop highly strategic and measurable advertising campaigns, designed to ignite immediate consumer response. As a marketing thought leader, Hawthorne-Castro is an active contributor to industry publications, including “AdAge,” “AdWeek,” “The Wall Street Journal,” “Forbes” and is on the Forbes Agency Council.