The rapid pace of technological evolution in the past few years has influenced the way in which people consume content, interact or offer their views across the world.
Over the course of the pandemic, now in its third year, I’ve been across various roles, and been at the vantage point of experiencing an almost 360-degree view of this evolution. So, I’ll try to share with you the learnings from my own professional journey.
Messaging has survived wars, recessions and technology – so it is fair to presume that it will survive a pandemic as well.
And the basics of business have not changed since the dawn of brand marketing a century ago.
“Why” some brands appeal and have greater success is still the first question
The rainson d’etre of the product, its promise and the post consumption experience are still the best indicators for first and repeat purchases.
So, what has changed in brand communication?
In 2022 what has changed, is the analytics available to us – to define the customer journey.
And I believe that has really been the bedrock upon which Omnichannel communication has been born - as a multichannel approach to customer communications that is distinctive due to its focus on providing an integrated, positive, consistent customer experience throughout each and every channel.
1. In planning a multi-channel content strategy, let’s look at the insights that can help us arrive at this focused approach that I’ve mentioned
Insights #1: invest into understanding why and how customers buy
What’s changed today from 20 years ago, and accelerated during the last three, is that the brand promise & purpose have to be the same. Customers are increasingly buying authenticity.
Add to that fact that we are using technology more than ever to discover, research, scrutinize, and buy all the products and services we need. Today, nothing beats the convenience and choice that digital commerce offers to the 2022 consumer.
Departing from how we used to have different CTAs for different channels, Omni-channel – enabled by technology – makes it possible for brands to use every channel to prompt action. QR codes, mobile phone dial-ins, HTML links and visual prompts (“Download now!”) – are all seeded into every channel of communication to make purchase completely accessible to the customer. You even have integrated digital payment gateways to ease the process.
Insight #2: Rethink customer journeys and find new ways to acquire, engage, and retain customers through positive experiences across multiple touchpoints.
Brands need to invest into understanding customers deeply
Let’s look at how Disney created a perfect omnichannel marketing strategy to improve people experience at their theme parks. Through their website, mobile apps, and Magicbands and cards, Disney has made it easier for the visitors to book their stay, check ride timings, book tickets, without having to stand in a long queue.
To create an omnichannel experience like that, we need to answer the following questions:
- What does your digital presence look like in comparison to your competitive set
- Functional digital insights that discover communities, audience aspirations, key influences and action prompts they will respond to and so on.
- Within this integration of course you will need to customise the message per channel depending on your audience set.
Insight # 3: Brand Safety & Reputation
Even as proof of impact & diversified spends are becoming the norm, as communicators must get more cognizant of reputation issues… such as customer data safety and privacy
Impact of traffic quality on the brand (where the brand shows up next to fake news, illegal or illicit content as well as misinformation) is a huge concern.
Also – a consumer’s online identity is very private for them… and when personalization starts to intrude or upset them
Messaging should be fuelled by first-party data as a priority.
Insight # 4: Keep Omnichannel an internal phrase. Customers don’t think channel by channel—so brands can’t openly advocate for that, nor even speak about it frankly
As consumers move from channel to channel—email, social media, apps, websites, ecommerce sites, and even in-person, physical touchpoints—they expect to have one experience.
At minimum, businesses should create a consistent experience across their owned digital channels, such as a seamless flow from their website to their app.
An omnichannel messaging strategy that accurately links behaviours across devices, environments, and media and sales channels gives a full picture of their customers and the ability to deliver a cohesive experience.
2. Where should the money best go.
I will perhaps provide a slightly contrarian point of view on this subject.
In my opinion, in the first instance I think the budgets need to be allocated to data analytics focussed on insights and measurement – from identifying where your audiences are, to measuring how your message is moving through channels, and with what uptake and frequency. How is the engagement informing your communication goals and consequently your business goals? What is working, so that you can allocate more resources to it and where recourse is required.
Then you can look at the channel split in terms of budgets. While there is a foundational omnichannel presence that is required for most brands, in order to determine a cohesive strategy, I would always recommend a thumb rule - the investments should always be done where your audiences are, where you can realise your brand’s authentic purpose and what best serves your organisation’s value system.
3. Advocating for a well-funded corporate communication budget.
To get any ROI on omnichannel marketing, every aspect of marketing & communications has to align on messaging and customer experience.
As communications professionals we have to illustrate how we can boost the company’s ROI using omnichannel strategy. I would keep four tenets in mind:
Consistent messaging: Right from training your marketing, sales, and customer support staff to personalizing the content at every stage of the customer lifecycle, ensure that the messaging is consistent.
Consistent experience: must focus on delivering a consistent experience across different touchpoints. customers will interact in different ways with your brand, and there is no one way to do it.
Continuity in communication: Ensure that there is continuity in communication across all the channels, so people are guided throughout the buyer’s journey.
Data-driven marketing: Personalization is the key to successful marketing. Use data-driven marketing to understand your customers, so you can engage with them in the right way by using the right channels.