Let’s take things at face value. By all market indications and consumers’ behaviour patterns, the omnichannel future is where we are headed. The world is getting more interconnected by the minute. Consumers are marching towards the purchase in an increasingly non-linear manner. New channels are emerging. Due to the explosion of digital noise, consumers’ attention spans are shortening while brands continue to introduce new digital marketing initiatives.
As a result of the proliferation of marketing messages across all channels, consumers want consistent personalisation. They want to know brands comprehend their interests and current contextual circumstances for the best possible solution offering.
Can brands deliver on such high consumer demands without taking omnichannel engagement seriously? Possibly, but the degree to which brands will delight the customer will vary based on the degree of consistency of their omnichannel experience. Because, as more brands move to integrate their messaging across channels, more consumers will recognise those who didn’t make that effort.
While we are moving forward with cutting-edge marketing technologies and initiatives, brands still object to the value of omnichannel, primarily because of its cost implications.
Many companies believe it’s an expensive game reserved for big players. So they are willing to wait out the modernisation of their marketing efforts to avoid the bad investment risk.
The question arises — is investing in omnichannel really that costly, or is it more expensive not to invest now — while brands still have a fighting chance?
The real cost of omnichannel
Omnichannel — while many companies assume it is too expensive — doesn’t have to be. The truth is, it will require investment at the beginning of the project, but over time the investment will start returning, and the cost of maintenance will decrease. To ensure cost-effectiveness, the omnichannel execution must be strategic.
The reality is that most businesses are already multichannel. The multichannel engagement has become the standard, as brands use email, mobile, or website channels to connect with consumers. The inefficiencies of multichannel today are becoming obvious – it lacks the consistency and integration of messages across channels. And, if you try to maintain activities and services across multiple channels without integrating them into a seamless omnichannel experience, you are likely to spend more resources and see far fewer returns than with omnichannel.
Why do businesses think omnichannel is too expensive
Many brands are confused about what it means to create an omnichannel experience with customers. Many assume they would have to manage a complex customer journey, design new purchase paths, acquire new technology and play catch-up across channels. This makes them doubt the sustainability of the endeavour.
These doubts are the reason why we emphasise a strategic approach. Once you have your goals aligned with your internal capacity, all you need is a laser-like focus on value creation across channels. Because at the end of the day, omnichannel strategies drive an 80% higher rate of incremental store visits. On the other hand, if B2B decision makers don’t get the value they want out of omnichannel interactions they are very willing to switch suppliers. For example, 82% of B2B buyers who are actively looking for a new supplier will switch to a new vendor if a performance guarantee is not offered.
Common objectives we hear about creating an omnichannel experience
Cost of technology
Concern: Digital transformation, including Marketing Automation Platform (MAP), Customer Data Platform (CDP) and implementation of new channels, will require an investment. The total cost of ownership of different platforms, including its implementation, licences, training and utilisation, can sometimes surpass six figures, which is often more than companies are willing or capable of investing.
Reality: There are multiple ways to reduce the cost of technology implementation and its application, one of which we discussed in our previous article about cost-effective digital transformation. Additionally, when a company sets strategic objectives with a keen awareness of the implications of each marketing endeavour — cost optimisation opportunities are constant while returns on investment are maximised.
Cost of data
Concern: Omnichannel requires data optimisation within the company and resource-consuming data silo elimination.
Reality: Omnichannel only works when data is unified, clean and up-to-date. However, companies can start small and build up. It’s all about the progressive adoption of future-ready data-driven practices to magnify results over time.
Cost of resources
Concern: Companies often don’t have the in-house capacity to facilitate sizable digital transformation projects. Lower marketing maturity levels will require hiring multi-skilled marketing-savvy personnel, which can be hard to source.
Reality: With remote-first work shifts, companies can hire skilled personnel from any part of the world to help them achieve desired results.
Cost of new processes
Concern: Omnichannel experience requires updating the customer journey map, aligning different departments in mutual goals, retraining the workforce and enabling consistent data flow to ensure 360-degree customer view.
Reality: With the latest marketing modernisation techniques, companies can leverage customer insight, strategic partners and their internal operational know-how to continue building in the right direction.
Cost of maintenance
Concern: Keeping the platforms functional and iterating as you go along will require competent maintenance skills.
Reality: Companies will require guidance at the beginning of the omnichannel facilitation journey. However, once a certain level of expertise is established, the hard-to-do things become second nature.
How to execute omnichannel cost-effectively
While required from the start, the omnichannel investment doesn’t have to be as substantial as brands perceive it, especially if done strategically.
Plan for progress over time
The secret of omnichannel is to recognise where you stand, what your customers want, and how you want to progress. Once the foundation is prepared, companies can start with integrating 2 or 3 new channels for observation purposes. There is no need to do ten new channels at once, especially if we don’t know how customers will react. Setting a phased approach to omnichannel is imperative, as the number of new channels might surpass your abilities to handle them effectively.
Observe and adjust
Tuning to the customer is vital. Once you establish your channel performance benchmark, start to observe the customers’ interactions. Ensure that the collected channel data is efficiently utilised for further experimentation. You will have to continuously adjust your marketing efforts to find the right way to engage your customers across channels as customers’ behaviour changes based on the channel. Allow this observation and experimentation phase to last several weeks and months, if needed.
Find the data that’s signifying buyers’ intent
Data is crucial to uncover patterns and signals that indicate consumers’ propensity to engage with your brand and eventually make a purchase. It’s essential to enable a single customer view to refine your understanding and ensure effective re-engagement. Otherwise, you may be pushing ads that don’t resonate with the specific customer segment, resulting in wasted resources and annoyed prospective customers.
Once you have found your right approach to omnichannel excellence, make your efforts known. Ensure your employees always know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Build workflows, processes, and content assets that will sustain the omnichannel experience and allow you to easily scale to the next level.
Omnichannel can enhance the customer experience, increase sales and improve customer retention. If you want to understand how to start your omnichannel journey without breaking the bank, download our Omnichannel Marketing White Paper, where we explain how to build a minimum viable omnichannel experience that companies of all sizes can easily execute.
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