By Melissa Meyer, Communications Assistant, CNW
Marketers understand that making themselves available on a wide variety of channels can boost brand awareness and maximize brand exposure. It’s certainly not an easy task, though. With about 98 per cent of customers switching between devices on a daily basis, a customer’s user experience must be seamless, regardless of which platform they’re on and what device they’re using.
While it may seem to be just the latest marketing buzz word, omni-channel marketing is a smart approach that adds meaningful shape and rigour to your channel strategy. In a recent webinar from the Canadian Marketing Association and CNW, "Surrounding The End Customer - Creating A Consistent Message" Gary Edgar, Principal at East End Digital shared how companies large and small can create an omni-channel strategy. Here are a few of his best practices:
While omni-channel marketing sounds complicated, it really doesn’t have to be. “Focus on what you have and what you already do well,” said Edgar. Take a good look at each channel you’re using and ask these three questions:
- Is there a seamless experience?
- Is our story always consistent?
- Where do gaps exist?
From here, make it a priority to fix channels that have gaps or are underperforming. For example, your website could provide a great user experience on a desktop, but look poor on a mobile screen. The gap here would be the responsiveness of your website. By creating a responsive website, your user will get the same experience, regardless of their access point. Another gap could be inconsistent branding across all of your platforms. While you can’t control the colour scheme on every social platform you use, try to include your brand colours wherever possible, along with your logo. This will help reinforce your brand and boost awareness.
Don’t only focus on the negative though. Gather some success stories from the channels that are excelling and begin a plan to add new channels. “Only expand once you’re confident,” stressed Edgar.
Be fiercely protective of your brand voice
When it comes to your owned media content, aim to have your brand ideals and aesthetics present at all times. This extends to your font, colour scheme and key brand messages. Be prepared to pressure test every piece of content you have, including customer service scripts and in-store signage. Remember, all of these content pieces are connected together in the mind of your consumer.
Being protective also means making tough decisions when new ideas arise. “Be willing to say no to good ideas because they don’t fit your brand,” explained Edgar. It may be hard to say no, and even harder to follow through with it, but brand inconsistencies will do more harm than good.
Use the right tools
An omni-channel marketing strategy can be a many-headed beast. To keep it under control, Edgar suggests using automation tools, such as Hubspot, CloudTags, and Shopify, to help you manage your campaigns.
Leverage the data and analytics
When it comes to customer experience, numbers don’t lie. See what channels are getting the most traffic and dig into the underperformers to see what you can optimize. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your customers for feedback; after all, they’re who matter most.
Don’t forget to gather insights as well, and yes, those differ from analytics. “Data is just numbers. Do the work and pull apart that information to gain valuable insights,” says Edgar. These insights can help you re-strategize or stay the course if all is going well.
In other words, analytics tools and software can determine how many views each of your blog posts received in that month. If you dig in further, you may find that blog posts citing best practices are most well-received by your audience. This insight into your audience’s true behaviour can drive your approach to content development. The best insights to gather are ones that are “actionable and prescriptive,” meaning they are easy to implement and will inform future strategy.
Look and feel aren’t mutually exclusive
While omni-channel marketing calls for a seamless experience, don’t confuse the look of your brand with the feeling it exudes. “Visually, the experience should be the same, but the messages can, and probably should, be different,” says Edgar. If you can target email campaigns by persona, for example, the way you write for someone starting out in their career may differ from the message you deliver to a more senior target group. Do your best to know as much as you can about who is using your channels. Companies who provide a personalized web experience receive double digit returns in marketing performance and response.
Omni-channel marketing is just a way to say, “doing all the things.” As new potential channels come online, we have to expand our efforts but in a way that makes the best return on investment.
This post originally appeared on CNW’s Beyond the Wire blog.