Can marketing ever really master omnichannel? (Clue: yes, if they buy a ton of beacons)

Omnichannel marketing

Mastering omnichannel marketing is the dream, the holy grail, the ultimate goal, and plenty other terms and phrases that basically means “oh boy, if we nailed omnichannel marketing we would rule the world.”

But can we ever truly wrestle omnichannel to the ground and make it say uncle?

What does omnichannel marketing mean?

Omnichannel refers to the seamless experience that all business owners must provide its customers in the digital world.

Simply, a customer should have a totally joined-up and consistent journey across all your channels – in-store, online, mobile app, social media, email, everything.

It begins with research and ends with (hopefully) a sale, but in-between there can be all sorts of tributaries and digressions…

Let’s say a search on Google for your product leads to a paid ad for your product, then the searcher clicks through, lands on your website and researches the product. Maybe they’ll add it to their basket, but then there’s a chance they’ll just change their mind and leave.

You could then retarget them with an email or display advertising. Maybe that will tempt them back. Maybe it won’t. Maybe the customer wants to know more about it before they purchase…

Perhaps the same person then sends your company a tweet or an email asking for some help. Your customer service team can reply as quickly, politely and personally as possible. Perhaps that customer then goes into your physical store a week later, tests the product and then asks for assistance. The helpful sales assistant maybe makes a sale there and then, or finally, the customer goes back to the website and makes a purchase from the convenient comfort of there sofa… or a mobile phone while sat on a bus.

Finally a conversion is made!

All of the above sounds ridiculously complicated (and is probably a little boring to read) but we have all behaved in a similar way – but probably drawn out over a longer period of time, with even more channels and false-starts.

The key to keeping your potential customers happy and your brand or product at the top of your mind is to make sure that all of the multichannel experiences above are consistent.

What counts as ‘consistency’ in omnichannel

There are loads of things you should ensure in order to provide a joined-up experience, but the following are very important.

  • Your brand is consistent
  • Your messaging is consistent
  • Your tone of voice is the same
  • Your pricing is the same
  • A customer should only have to deal with one customer service representative, or at least not have to repeat themselves every time they get in contact
  • Make sure all retargeting is relevant to the customer, in email and display
  • Make sure if an item is placed in a basket on the desktop version of your site, that it remains when they visit your mobile site
  • Your various web properties (desktop, mobile web, app) should have the same navigational elements and offer the same native experience
  • Your customer service should be excellent, responsive and personal across all channels – whether in-store, via email or on social

With a lot of the above, it will come down to strong management and a clear vision for what you want to achieve across every facet of your business, especially when it comes to customer service.

But for everything else – especially the automated, retargeted parts – there are beacons.

The true battleground for providing seamless experiences across channels, is the one between online and offline.

Yes you can ensure that your digital-first properties are coalesced, but how can you be sure that the same experience will be granted to your previously digital-only customer when they walk into your store?

Beacons. By having beacons placed around your location, you can be certain that you’re delivering the right messaging at the right time to your potential customers.

With you app downloaded, a visitor can continue where they left off online in your physical store.

Everything added to a basket, or browsed for online, can inform the offline experience. Perhaps a wishlist created on the web can be used to send the user personalised discounts. Perhaps if you have a loyalty scheme, you can remind them how many points they have when they walk in.

Finally everything that happens in a traditionally non-digital setting can be measured, attributed and learnt from – therefore informing the last outpost  of the customer journey in a far more accurate way than ever before.

How live data from beacons can improve your CRM strategy

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Plugging in all the live beacon-data from your physical business’s locations directly into your CRM system can have a measurable and positive impact on your abilities to personalise offers and messages in real-time.

Let’s explore how this can be achieved, and answer some straightforward questions you may have around a piece of software you may not be using, or utilising to its full potential.

What is a CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and it refers to any system used to manage a company’s interactions with its current or future customers.

The purpose of this to help automate some of the more time-consuming, labour-intensive customer service chores so you can spend more time and effort developing the actual human-side of your relationship… the one that will lead to a much healthier customer lifetime value (CLV).

Why should you use a CRM?

A good CRM should organise, automate and synchronise all of the customer facing areas within your company, and not just sales, but also customer service and technical support. (Also marketing too, which we’ll get to later.)

It basically means you can chuck all those massive ledgers and rolodexes in the bin, and hopefully means you’ll never miss an important detail or calendar date in relation to your customer, wherever they are in the sales funnel.

This information on your clients is stored in one place, and should be shared with your whole team. Anyone can update the data, and these updates will be made live immediately. This means that everyone in your business is on the same page when it comes to the relationship.

A decent CRM should also provide you with metrics and help you forecast for the future. You’ll be able to see the complete history of your interactions with a client and you can use this to strategise for the future.

What types of data can be plugged into a CRM?

All the traditional channels, such as telephone calls, emails, face-to-face meetings can be entered into a CRM, but the system you choose should definitely come with social integration and be able to harness mobile data.

More and more people are using social as their first port of call when it comes to contacting a brand, and more often than not, this is done via mobile.

However, what about the missing piece of the puzzle?

Many businesses do not have the complete picture of any given customer journey, particularly those with premises in the offline world.

Without the ability to identify and measure a customer’s in-store interactions and behaviour, then a CRM will never truly be accurate.

But how can a business take these offline interactions and make them… online?

By using beacons.

How live data from beacons can complete your CRM strategy

By placing beacons in your premises, you can measure exactly how a customer behaves in-store. If you target an individual who has your mobile app, with a specific message or offer, you can answer many difficult questions that most businesses can only struggle to guess at…

Has the marketing worked? Has the notification directed that person into a store? How long did it take? Did they use the offer? Did they buy anything else? How long did they spend in-store?

You could then prompt the customer with a quick survey, asking if they enjoyed the experience and where it could be improved.

All this data could be fed directly into your CRM, and can immediately be used to improve communications and personalise offers for the next person that wanders through the door.

Ultimately, this live data coupled with your existing CRM data, is designed to improve customer service. However, never before have we had the capability to do so in such an agile, on-the-spot manner that takes into account the entire long-term customer relationship.