All-Channel Marketing Is NOT Omni-Channel Marketing

November 12, 2015
281 Views

I was on a panel for the news media community at the Teradata Partners conference a few weeks back. Our discussion centered upon how marketing is changing in today’s big data world. As the discussion started, something hit me like a ton of bricks. Namely, doing marketing across all channels is not at all the same as true omni-channel marketing. While it sounds like a semantic game at first, I will explain why it is much more than that.

I was on a panel for the news media community at the Teradata Partners conference a few weeks back. Our discussion centered upon how marketing is changing in today’s big data world. As the discussion started, something hit me like a ton of bricks. Namely, doing marketing across all channels is not at all the same as true omni-channel marketing. While it sounds like a semantic game at first, I will explain why it is much more than that.

What is all-channel marketing?

All-channel marketing is the easy way out. It is the path of least resistance that unfortunately way too many organizations go down. All-channel marketing is simply executing the same old marketing approaches through every possible channel. It isn’t using each channel for its strengths.  It isn’t having different channels add unique value to the customer. It isn’t making the most of the new data and analytics that are available today with some of the newer channels.

So how does all-channel marketing work? Let’s say my organization has been delivering customized email offers for a few years now. We make the decision to get into marketing via social media. So, we now post the same offers on our Facebook account or tweet a link to the offer landing page. We’re just delivering the same old offers via a new channel. Nothing new here other than the customers are probably even more annoyed by our efforts since they are bombarded in multiple ways with the same offers they often didn’t care about before.

The goal of omni-channel marketing isn’t to get a check in the “we’re marketing via social media” or “we’re marketing via SMS” boxes. The goal should be to improve the level of personalization and dialog with a customer by using the new channels as part of an overall evolved mix of approaches.

What is omni-channel marketing?

True omni-channel marketing means developing new approaches for new channels and having the different channels play off of each other. Lisa Arthur, the CMO of our marketing apps division, calls this individualized marketing. An omni-channel experience is far different from an all-channel experience.

An omni-channel experience might work like this. A customer comments on social media that she has an interest in a certain product but she isn’t sure if a specific feature is included. As a result, we deliver a customized answer that points to a link to the product and tells the customer that the feature is available as can be seen on the linked page. No salesmanship or offer here, just a direct answer to her specific question. It would be the wrong time to once again provide the 10%-off offer she received in last night’s email.

Next, she visits the webpage and checks out the product. After reviewing that product, she ends up adding a related, but slightly different, product to her wish list. We know what the specific feature difference is in that product from the first, and so we have a good idea of why she made the switch.

The next day, as the customer is in the area of our store, we send a text that alerts her that the store nearby has the product she’s interested in on the shelf right now. The text might also specifically mention that many people like the feature that we’re sure drove her to it. At that point, she just might go in and buy it.

I don’t claim that the prior example is a best practice as outlined, but it is illustrative of the general principles involved. The point to take away is that at each stage in the process, we responded to the customer individually and in context while taking advantage of the strengths of each channel.  Each new interaction leveraged analysis of the data collected during the last interaction. This is the path to reaching the promise of omni-channel marketing.

Moving forward

In the end, it is critical that you and your organization take full advantage of the data, analytics, and technological capabilities of each channel available to you. So much more is possible today than in the old days. Delivering coupons 10 ways is still simply just delivering a coupon! The level of individualization that can be achieved today is so much more than that. Make sure that you’re not taking the easy way out and just doing the same old things in an all-channel approach to marketing. Instead, upgrade to true individualized omni-channel marketing. Your customers will notice it and appreciate it and your bottom-line results will reflect that!