What is good omnichannel marketing?
Having been around enough to see this idea evolve, I have a certain view on omnichannel that isn’t always in vogue, but to me speaks to the essence of good marketing. That is, that good omnichannel marketing is testing the right mix of channels for your business (not what others are doing) that represents the optimal mix for your customer’s engagement with you at a given point in time.
Let’s dissect this thought by concentrating on some key words and why I believe things may not be in vogue but represent best practices. First, inspect the choice of the words, “your business”. The mistake I see made by so many marketers is they flock like lemmings to the newest marketing trends, while abandoning old ones. There is nothing wrong (and in fact it should be in your marketing fabric) with testing new ideas, but the second key word used is “testing”. So putting these thoughts together, focus on what works for you and your customers, challenge those champion channels with new ones, yet keep the right mix that returns that best current results. Always observe what your competitors and fellow practitioners are doing, however intelligently form hypothesis and then systematically test them.
Next, consider the choice of the words, “optimal mix”. How do you determine what is really optimal? This gets into an area I’ve explored in depth for many years known as attribution. The mistake I see many marketers making is they either choose to ignore this, saying it’s too hard, or they work it in only one area, for instance for their digital spend or separately for their general advertizing budget. As marketers, we have to let all of our efforts compete on an equal playing field. None should be considered untouchable, nor should any be chucked into the rubbish bin because they feel old school. The reason they think it’s too hard is more about organizational challenges then technological or optimization techniques available. I’ll always remember a quote from an enterprise retail marketing executive on this, saying “changing the way we decide on marketing mix is like starting a jihad.”
Why you should fight the good fight
Although it may be daunting to some, this shouldn’t stop you from pursuing true omnichannel optimization. If you do this better than your competition, you will be more likely to succeed now and in the future. You don’t necessarily need to use overly complicated algorithms, techniques, or systems to accomplish a more optimal mix of marketing spend across your channels. You simply need to be able to measure the effectiveness of programs executed in each, and then ensure they are fairly competing for current and future marketing budget.
Now ponder the term, “your customer’s engagement.” It’s not about what you think is best, it’s about which channels which customers want to use to engage with your business. I picked the vital words which channels for which customers because you can’t use a one set of channels fits all segments of customers. For example, if you have a significant older demographic segment, they may well like to engage with you by phone or even by mail. Yes mail, this thing that the post person still delivers to mail boxes every day. Be objective with your analysis of channels effectiveness and not just trendy. Also, don’t be afraid to use fairly basic measurement techniques if needed to simplify the problem, such as first touch or last touch, or equal weight / credit, but use these differently by channel. So for example, last touch may be very effective with certain digital media, however first touch may be more appropriate for certain traditional channels, or for certain types of marketing efforts, such as lead generation.
If there is one thing that is certain, its “Change Happens”
Finally, let’s mull over the phrase, “at a given point in time”. I included this because what I’ve seen is that marketers do something, feel confident in the answer, and then don’t challenge it often enough. For instance, perhaps you did some valuable work that shows your best mix of channels & budget for your elder demographic segment is 50% mail, 30% phone, 20% email, and 10% other. That’s great, for now. But in just one year this segment’s age has changed materially, and perhaps their preferences and behavior & habits.
So be objective, be humble, be inquisitive, and test everything.
Note: These views are my own, and not that of my employer