rtb houseMarketers must meet today’s customers on their own terms, on the channels they prefer. Brands must integrate a wide spectrum of offline and online for successful e-commerce and retail strategies.

According to Salesforce, it takes an average of 6-8 touch points before a user becomes a customer. Within a group of potential buyers, there are people who are more likely to convert when a brand’s message reaches them wherever they are, wherever they may be. Loyal clients need to hear from a brand on their terms.

With these new expectations come opportunities to gain loyal brand advocates. But omni-channel marketing doesn’t work without a consistent and well-thought-out strategy.

A purchasing decision is always a journey

Imagine that a middle-aged male wants to change his life habits and begin sports activities. As he searches online for new sport shoes, many opinions, reviews and recommended will begin to influence his top-of-mind thinking about which shoe to purchase—he may even have gone to retail stores to try on few models.

As he compares different prices and styles, he may discover a perfectly breathable t-shirt and some other unexpected promotions. Then, it turns out the retailer doesn’t have the color of shoes he wants, so he visits another shop to find colors in stock—and then make the final purchase.

This entire process took several days and consisted of multiple sales touch-points.

As marketers and sales teams, we don’t often recognize the entirety of this journey. A “new pair of shoes” isn’t a well-documented life goal. However, this shopper was exposed to various brands at many points, all with different messages and different reactions.

At every stage, each brand had a chance to turn this shopper into buyer. Touchpoints like outdoor commercials, WoM marketing, discussion on web forums, social media communication, outdoor events, customer support, email promotion or even pop-up merchandising at the gym are little steps that a brand can take to meet a customer.

Each of these steps occur on different communication channels—a place where marketers can extend their message and eventually reach people who need their products and services.

Deciding on an omni-channel advertising campaign usually involves choosing the appropriate channels and strategies. Separate advertising media with different budgets is one option, but after measuring results it may turn out that the outcome is below expectations. The best chances for success are found with omnichannel campaigns where communication is integrated, and advertising fits the time, place and serves previously established goals.

More is not always the merrier

A competitive marketing environment forces brands to be present everywhere possible. Growing advertising budgets show that this trend will continue and modern technologies that optimize this are growing in value.

The desire to be up to date with latest novelties can often lead to large investments without effective outcomes. Expensive AR and VR technologies can differentiate a company among competitors, but an impressive installation in a shopping mall or awe-inspiring app can submerge the marketing budget.

While it may have brought some publicity, at the end of the day its effectiveness should be measured or at least proven by the number of clients willing to make a purchase.

If marketers also run social media campaigns, prepare and send newsletters, and engage in offline promotions—omni-channel marketing can become a bottomless pit. The problem is not even in advertising budgets, which are growing year to year. Increasing purchasing ability and a wide range of offers made are creating customers less loyal to a brand and more demanding as clients. So even though brands spend more and more money to reach the audience, lack of proper communication can lead to the loss of once acquired customers.

Marketers must create end-to-end experiences to make sure that the journey that starts in a customer’s mind will end in our stores. According to a Bain & Company study, companies that excel in the customer experience grow revenues 4%–8% above their market. The overall experience can be different for different industries, but the common thread should be the same: an omnichannel campaign with measurable effects.

Revolution or evolution?

If we go back few years from now, some of these omni-channels were already available for marketers. The change we can actually observe is the way we can measure, coordinate and control omnichannel activities. Truly omnichannel means not just conducting campaigns using various media but going step further like matching online and offline users.

Recently, Google tried to track credit card purchases and match them with online profiles to present more accurate ads. It resonated with some complaints and concerns, but in general this direction sooner or later will become a standard. On one hand, people are afraid of sharing too much data, especially sensitive data, but on the other they expect dedicated and personalized content. Adlucent research found that people were almost twice as likely to click through an ad featuring an unknown brand if the ad was tailored to their preferences.

Advanced technologies give marketers the ability to provide not only more accurate but also safe data, which properly analyzed and used can improve overall user experience. For example, if store information regarding offline purchases can be matched with users online – we can present different creatives only for those who purchased something offline more than 7 days ago or make sure that we won’t show products already bought. Email marketing can invite customers to special events and after that collect data and prepare special creatives for those who really participated. Combining data from CRM systems like loyalty card information or previous purchases, we can display real-time ads once a customer is in the physical store and much more.

We know that it costs six to seven times more to acquire new customers than it does to retain current ones, so a natural consequence should be combining our marketing efforts into integrated campaigns.

For a brand to implement omnichannel marketing, marketers must establish a single customer view which includes such of a customer’s data like demographic details, their interactions with website or purchase history. Once they consolidate those and invest in advanced technology, it may turn out that demanding, omnichannel customers are not a competitive threat, but an opportunity to rise to the occasion.

By Chandra Kuncara, Country Manager (SEA), RTB House