Over the past year, there has been a dramatic rise in interest about omnichannel sales & marketing, so here is a primer for our blog community.
What is “omnichannel”? It’s a total shift in the concept of sales & marketing. An omnichannel approach to marketing means taking a formerly linear process and adapting it to a “starburst” or “continuum” along which marketers focus more on holding attention using multiple channels and devices. This entirely new mindset affects all disciplines within an organization.
Many brands and retailers (to understand omnichannel, you have to start B2C — but feel free to skip below for B2B application of omnichannel strategies) are moving from a linear approach to their marketing efforts to a multi-pronged, “value exchange” model, where customers gain tangible value — more than just a brand-name label — from the companies they choose.
Example: Nike Brand Creates a “Value Exchange”
A great example is Nike’s + program, which has developed an entire ecosystem that helps their consumers track their own training programs through a fuelband that monitors their activity, devices implanted in basketball shoes that can record how high they jump and interfaces with both the Apple iPod and Microsoft Kinect platforms. They can even link their profiles with friends and compete with them.” – Greg Satell, Digital Tonto
Amazon: Customers connect their accounts to Twitter and add products by appending #AmazonWishList to build out their Amazon wishlists.
Examples: Retail Techniques
Staples, Wal-Mart, Target: Same-day in-store pickup for online order
Kmart: Online and in-store layaway with no interest.
Macy’s: An integrated inventory system gives store associates a full view of all items available across all channels.
Nordstrom’s: In-store displays of items most pinned on Pinterest.
Neiman-Marcus: Salespeople get a notification when a regular customer enters the store, with access to purchase history and preferences.
By 2017, 10% of all retail purchases in the United States will be made online, accounting for over $370 billion in sales.
Let’s Talk Channels
- Physical stores
- Mobile apps
- Desktop computers
- Social Channels
The Total Experience
Each piece of the consumer experience is intended to be seamless, consistent and complementary:
Omnichannel means supporting all channels and having a holistic view of the customer regardless of communication method. This is vital as customers are increasingly dictating how they want to be engaged and serviced. Unlike multichannel, omnichannel interactions are not siloed but integrated providing for richer customer experiences that are connected (digital), continuous (consistent across devices, channels, and time) and contextual (relevant) no matter how many times a customer may transition from one channel to another for one task or during an entire journey.” – Daniel Hong, Senior Director of Product Marketing at 7 Tweet this!
What Does “Seamless” Look Like?
Multi-channel is an operational view – how you allow the customer to complete transactions in each channel. Omnichannel, however, is viewing the experience through the eyes of your customer, orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent. Omnichannel anticipates that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution. Making these complex ‘hand-offs’ between channels must be fluid for the customer. Simply put, omnichannel is multichannel done right!” – John Bowden, Senior VP of Customer Care at Time Warner Cable Tweet This!
Use Cases for Omnichannel B2B Now Extend Beyond Marketing and Sales
I’m calling B.S. on the distinction between B2B and B2C marketing. I challenge our industry to worry less about B2B and B2C, and more about reaching every human who has the potential to touch a brand.” — Barbara Apple Sullivan, Founder and managing partner, Sullivan + Company Tweet This!
The benefits of the omnichannel approach don’t stop with Marketing and Sales — and it isn’t limited to B2C. Every company can benefit from increasing engagement and intimacy with prospects and customers. Listening and responding on lots of channels helps support, customer service, and even product development:
Tweet This! A lot of it is about being able to provide a better service for our customers. If we can plug social into all the other CRM [Customer Relationship Management] data we have, then we have a full portfolio on the customer. If we know their VIN [Vehicle Identification Number], if we know their name, if we know their Twitter handle, and we know whether they like to go to the dealership or they don’t like to go the dealership, this helps us treat them in a way that they want to treated.” – Rebecca Harris, GM’s head of global social media strategy, quoted in Digiday.com
Omnichannel Is Quickly Becoming “The New Normal”
Tweet This! Whether B2B or B2C, the 1:1 experience is what marketers need to think about when considering the deployment of omnichannel because what makes the method so irresistible is how it takes shape based on the consumers behavior and uses your clicks, interactions and data to mold a shopping experience that is personalized.” – Daniel Newman in this article.
An omnichannel experience is the expectation nowadays – the closer you can get to it the better. Consumers benefit when they are well connected to the product or service. So the challenge in the industry is to track and tailor across all the channels for the best experience – retail, web, mobile, text, phone – the good ones get this notion and do it well.” – John Casaretto, Contributing Editor, SiliconANGLE
Your Omnichannel “Todo” List
- Understand prospects’ conversion path and optimize your landing pages.
- Up your social presence — know which channels are most effective and develop a strategy.
- Develop and optimize your search strategies to drive traffic and conversions.
- If you’re advertising online, use what you know about your customer to “customize” their advertising experience. Target people who searched for something but didn’t click on your ad.
- Be creative about mobile for brand interactions.
Know Thy Customer and Thou Shalt Rock Omnichannel
Use a combination of tools, surveys, and customer 1-to-1 outreach to gain a clear view of your customer.
Collaborate, collaborate collaborate — break down departmental silos. Support with leadership and technology. A single view of the customer ties every department together.
Translate your customers’ experience into a visual map (or maps!) to gain a clear picture of barriers and plan for future improvements.
Bruce Temkin on The Journey Map:
“Journey-Centric Sales and Marketing …is about understanding how your organization fits within the context of your customers’ lives. How can marketers gain this insight? By tapping into the growing customer experience methodology called customer journey mapping.
Customer journey maps are a representation of the steps and emotional states a customer goes through during a period of time that includes, but is not limited to, interactions with an organization. Journey maps are valuable because they help identify how a customer views an organization by putting interactions in the context of the customer’s broader activities and goals.
Marketers should use this tool to identify the key paths that high-value customers take and opportunities for helping them succeed. Understand how you can provide customers with the information and encouragement to satisfy their needs and desires. — Bruce Temkin, Managing Partner and Customer Experience Transformist, Temkin Group Tweet This!
Data without insights is just a bunch of numbers! Tweet This!
A common problem for marketers is pulling the relevant, quality data from the noisy large sets of information so you can use them to inform customer engagement.
Omnichannel marketing will not be effective when driven by guesses.
Omnichannel is supposed to be seamless, but typically even small businesses use different tools that silo data — and struggle to draw insights from the disparate data. It’s worth the trouble to find ways to tease out what your data (from all your tools) is telling you about customer experience.
Human AND Technology Data Detection Methods
- Technology: Sales conversion tools
- Human: Analytics-rich spreadsheets
- Technology: High-tech customer engagement tools
- Human: Customer profiling and personas
Your Lead Processing Playbook (We Call It “The Pipeliner Way”) – Tweet This!
Profile product triallers and new leads. What can you discover without a deep dive? (e.g., social channel handles, field data from trial forms, pictures, email, title, interests, referral sources)
Get a free account at Refresh and use it to learn all you can about your prospects and customers. In a Refresh record, you can see a summary, a resume, published articles, follower counts, previous jobs, public social exchanges, social profile summaries, etc.) What are they tweeting about? Are they comfortable on social channels? Does the job title make them a likely player in the buyer’s journey? Read between the lines to inform how and when to start a relationship.
Start a conversation on Twitter. Create templates of “first tweets” and keep them handy:
- Hi <insert Twitter handle>! I’m excited to see that you have started your @YourCompany journey! I’m here if you have any questions
- Hello <insert Twitter handle>! Welcome to the @YourCompany family! Shout out if I can assist you in any way
- @ProspectName Thanks for checking @YourCompany ! Let me know if I can be of help to you during your eval…
Come on! Does this really work? YES!
Suggested “second tweet”: (send 5-7 days after trial starts) — Look, you’ve got your own drip campaign going! Can you use your CRM to set your reminder?
Suggested Direct Messages (can only be sent if person has followed you back!):
- Hi <insert firstname> – here’s my email firstname.lastname@example.org and Skype contact info <insert Skype info>. Happy to schedule a call to touch base..
- Hey <insert firstname> – here’s my email email@example.com and Skype contact info <insert Skype info> – I’m available to answer your Q’s
Next, bring the Wow! What’s the next step? A demo?
- Link to video demos and company assets you think would be helpful to them
Request a LinkedIn connection:
Select “We’ve done business together”
Suggested invitation to connect email (it’s always best to write your own invitation rather than use the standard one):
Would love to connect on LinkedIn. As a sales professional, part of what I do is make myself available to discuss sales process or even answer your general questions as you evaluate products.
Repeat For The Win
- Create a private Twitter list. (Suggest “Prospects” or “Hot Leads”) Continual touches (RT’s, Favorites, suggested reading) will guarantee you stay top of mind and gain trusted advisor status.
INTERMEDIATE: Monitor social streams (in your CRM?) and proactively engage with Lead
ADVANCED: Add Twitter list to HootSuite and regularly check for recent tweets. Suggest also using Filter By feature to identify specific engagement opportunities
- Add Lead to your Google+ circles
- Add Lead company to your Google+ circles
- Suggest LinkedIn Groups to join
- Suggest they follow your company’s LinkedIn business page
- Suggest that they subscribe to your blog for regular product updates and good industry advice
- Also suggest other blogs – remember, you are a rich resource! You will stay top of mind.
- Keep track of influencers in your industry, news outlets, books — anything “evergreen” that you believe will help your customers or prospects.
The Human Touch Takes Less Time Than You Think
Think this is time intensive? Think again. Once your system is in place, you should be able to do all these steps in about 2 minutes per person. In ½ hour per day, you could start 15 relationships. Social selling activities are proven to generate more revenue and contribute to closes. Just using Twitter generates 2x the leads of non-Twitterers (InsideView)
ANOTHER ASTOUNDING FACTOID:
You are almost 5X more likely to schedule a first meeting if you have a personal LinkedIn connection.
The Promise of Omnichannel
Customers want to have access to EVERYTHING. Their own preferences and their own data are what guide them — and this is what they expect their future to hold. This is the promise an omnichannel approach holds for them — that their experiences will be better when they can move seamlessly and continuously through their favorite brands, no matter the device.
Focusing on omnichannel holds promise for a completely custom experience tailored to each individual. When you think about it, this is where we’ve been heading for some time. Somehow, now it seems inevitable.
The increasing interconnectedness of customer experiences makes a rich omnichannel future seem inevitable, doesn’t it? We live in exciting times!