4 Keys to Building a Positive Customer Experience Online for Retailers
Retail moved online in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic (even Black Friday was a largely digital experience). For retail brands, the transition has required restructuring everything from inventory management and order fulfillment, to marketing and advertising strategies (especially as those strategies pertain to mobile where screentime is up 13.9% this year). To help brands better adapt to the loss of large-scale brick-and-mortar retail heading into 2021, here are 4 keys to building a positive customer experience online.
#1 – Project a consistent brand identity online
The consistency of your brand online is critical to the delivery of a great customer experience. Everything from your logo, to your color palettes, to your email templates, to how and when you decide to deploy dark mode needs to be consistent. The more consistent your brand is online, the more recognizable it will be to consumers, and brands that are more recognizable can see a per customer lifetime value that’s 306% higher than the average.
#2 – Personalize your customer interactions
80% of consumers want personalized retail experiences. To deliver a personalized experience, your brand must be able to analyze a combination of first- and third-party customer data, and activate on the insights obtained in real time for custom product recommendations, uniquely tailored marketing emails, and more.
Prose Custom Haircare does a great job with personalization to enhance the digital customer experience. Using data from past purchases, Prose recommends new products that are relevant to individual shoppers, which makes those shoppers feel like the brand understands their personal wants and needs. The stronger that feeling, the more likely shoppers are to remain loyal to the Prose brand even when aggressively marketed to by competitors.
#3 – Pay attention to the customer journey
Journey mapping is a crucial part of building a positive customer experience online. It’s the only way for retailers to understand details such as which channels attract the highest value customers, where customers drop off in the sales process, etc. The insights derived from journey mapping make it easier to create a holistic picture of individual customers (as well as audiences of customers) so you can improve the customer experience across every channel and touchpoint.
Starbucks, for example, uses journey mapping to understand how their customers interact with the brand (the digital channels most frequently used, order histories, etc.) so their business can be more successful in the future building a positive customer experience online.
#4 – Implement an omnichannel strategy
Building a positive customer experience online requires an omnichannel approach (69% of U.S. consumers spend more with brands that offer a consistent experience across all offline and online channels). Therefore, retailers should implement a closed-loop measurement strategy using industry-leading marketing software to synchronize all customer activity be it online or offline. Doing so will ensure more timely and relevant engagement with customers (i.e. it will stop your brand from serving a product-specific ad to a customer who’s recently purchased that product).
Want more insights into build a positive customer experience online?
Empowering retail marketers with the ability to better understand their customers and engage them throughout the customer journey
Perhaps more so than any other industry, retail has undergone a significant shift in business models with the rise of the digital era and new technology. DTC brands are thriving thanks in large part to e-commerce platforms, while legacy brands with large physical footprints are challenged to innovate to meet changing customer expectations. In this competitive retail landscape, brands need to deliver an engaging shopping experience throughout the customer journey.
Studies show that retailers that invest in an omnichannel approach to customer engagement retain up to 89% of their customers, compared to the 33% retention rate of companies with weak omnichannel engagement. Yet, only 8% of retailers say they have achieved a successful omnichannel strategy. The fact remains that many retail marketers struggle to deliver a seamless customer experience across engagement channels.
To provide customers with an effective omnichannel experience, retailers need to be able to identify individual customers across channels and devices. Achieving this goal requires robust identity resolution (IDR) capabilities.
IDR is the process of analyzing disparate customer data sets and unifying them into a single, comprehensive view of each customer. IDR leverages a combination of deterministic and probabilistic matching techniques to attribute multiple sessions to a single customer, and recognize that customer as the same individual no matter the channel or device they use. Below, we highlight three important functions of IDR for omnichannel retail marketers.
Create a Unified Customer Profile
Effective identity resolution matches data from multiple sources into a single comprehensive view of each customer, providing marketers with an in-depth look into customer behavior, purchase history, and products of interest, regardless of channel or device. For omnichannel retailers, this includes recognizing that a person browsing the website is the same customer who just purchased something in the retail store. Marketers can then provide a personalized offer, leveraging insights into the customer’s size and product interests.
Enable Omnichannel Interactions
Once retailers recognize a customer across channels, they can provide consistent messaging that continues the conversation, regardless of where the customer appears next. If a customer visits a physical store, they might receive an offer via SMS or a mobile app. If the customer visits a retailer’s website, they might get a coupon informed by a recent purchase or recent research activity. The possibilities are endless once identity resolution processes are operating at a sufficiently high level.
Ensure Consistent Data Across Systems
Marketers too often employ fragmented technology stacks with point solutions that lock customer data into channel-specific silos. Robust identity resolution capabilities eliminate these silos, enabling retail marketers to have an accurate understanding of where, when, and with which products their customers are interacting in real time. Identity resolution also enables customer-facing departments to leverage the same data, ensuring consistency across every customer interaction.
Retailers need to leverage the capabilities of identity resolution if they wish to compete with the success of DTC brands. Identity resolution is a key component of success in omnichannel retail, empowering retail marketers with the ability to better understand their customers and engage them throughout the customer journey.
Articles | September 5, 2018 | 2min read
Overcoming a Critical Retail Marketing Challenge: Customer Acquisition
Editor’s note: This article and interview were orchestrated by Zeta Global’s SVP of Customer Experience, David Schey. Connect with him and get more insights on LinkedIn.
An interview with Brendan Witcher, Principal Strategist, eBusiness & Channel Strategy, Forrester
Earlier this year we sat down with Brendan Witcher, principal strategist, eBusiness & Channel Strategy at Forrester to talk about retail trends at NRF. We recently checked back in with Brendan to see if retailers are making good on their promises when it comes to acquisition strategies in 2018.
Let’s recap the trends Brendan outlined at NRF…
In 2017 – Personalization and omnichannel were key trends with retailers.
In 2018 – Personalization and omnichannel are still big, but…maybe retailers don’t understand their customers well enough to personalize the experience or, maybe they don’t understand their business well enough to optimize a retail omnichannel strategy.
Brendan’s Advice for Retailers at NRF: “Focus on the “unsexy” work you haven’t gotten done to optimize your personalization and omnichannel programs.”
“Focus on the “unsexy” work you haven’t gotten done to optimize your personalization and omnichannel programs.”
We think retailers were listening. At Zeta, we’ve been hard at work with our retail clients all year helping them focus on optimizing personalization through their use of data. We have a phrase we use a lot around the water cooler here: “We know your customers, you just don’t have them yet!” Yes, it does sound a little out there, but it’s true.
How do we do it? We focus on people-based audience acquisition. We leverage customer signals, deterministic data and native artificial intelligence to deliver 1:1 personalization at scale. We target specific customers by identifying who you want to talk to, not who you think you want to talk to.
We think it’s pretty cool that a little after the mid-year mark, retailers are transforming their data programs from “unsexy” to “sexy” work. But, we wondered if Brendan is seeing the same pivot from the retailers he is talking to on a daily basis. Here’s what he had to say…
We asked Brendan if retailers are doing the work they set out to do, specifically are they:
Finding value in their customer data?
Capturing their data correctly to create better customer experiences?
He told us that retailers are making progress on the objectives they stated earlier in the year:
To be more data-driven
To engage with customers at the individual level
In doing so, he also said that new challenges have arisen that have slowed their progress, mainly:
Siloed organizational agendas
How do you get around that? Brendan suggests obtaining quick wins with data and showing how data-led marketing can have the greatest impact. He went on to say that some of the same marketers who are facing these retail omnichannel strategy challenges above are building the business case to have their organizations lean heavier on data—in both their strategic decision making and their tactical campaigns.
Brendan’s Keys for Success?
Find and focus on the areas that have high impact on your customer.
Make sure your organization is operationally set up to execute on the digital tools you have.
Data in Motion: A Retailer’s Key to Fueling Customer Engines
Is your retail organization creating a journey map for both your brand and customer? If not, you may find yourself lost, looking for a new route. Listening and responding to client and prospect signals is the best way to correct course and reach your desired destination with consumers.
Data in Motion vs. Stuck in Standstill Traffic
Many retailers can find their customers when they visit locations on their brand maps such as blog entries and newsletters, but what insight can be gained outside of the brand’s messaging?
How can a consumer’s latest Internet search or comment on their favorite website or article inform you how and when to target with the best offer? Understanding and leveraging Data in Motion is the key.
Signal Data Makes the Path Clearer
Let’s look at the difference between leveraging customer signal data and using static brand interactions in a simple case study about a consumer named Lauren and her interaction with the Petco brand.
Insight Gained from Lauren’s Connected Identity Graph:
Petco is able to identify and leverage Lauren’s purchasing patterns across the various signal data collected using the following:
Postal (demographic, credit, income, home ownership, transactions)
Mobile (location, app usage)
IP Address (household devices, channel, preference)
Web Behavior (recent interests, recent intent, send time)
Transaction (recent purchases, spending patterns)
Insight from Lauren’s Signal Data Across Channels:
Postal: Lauren recently applied for a home mortgage.
Mobile: She visited two stores last week.
IP Address: Three devices were added to Lauren’s household in three months.
Web Behavior: She browsed dog grooming content on four sites; she visited outdoor activity websites.
Transaction: Her last purchase with Petco was five months ago (dog food); she increased spending on premium products.
Combining the identity graph with signal data gives Petco a true picture of what Lauren needs…and more! Now, Petco can target Lauren, and other consumers like her, with high end, personalized messaging and offers:
Lauren’s interest in premium dog food may be heightened since she recently increased her spending on premium products.
Dog Grooming may be top of mind based on her recent search activities.
Utilizing cluster signal data, Petco can now identify many other consumers out there just like Lauren.
What does all of this mean for retailers?
Improved creative assets that can speak directly to consumers’ needs.
Greater awareness and brand affinity with consumers because they now see you as someone who understands their specific needs.
Better messaging and ROI based on real-time needs and behavioral triggers.
Measured and optimized performance as a result of potential levers.
To learn more about how the Zeta Data Cloud can help you unlock your omnichannel retail signal data, watch my complete keynote case study at eTail East:
How to Choose the Best CRM Solution for Your Enterprise
When it comes to customer relationship management, not all technology is created equal—especially when operating on an enterprise scale. The solution you ultimately choose will provide the foundation for understanding your customers and meeting their growing expectations. That, in turn, will determine the ROI of your marketing and success of your brand for years to come.
Diamonds in the Digital Rough
The marketing technology landscape is expanding at a terrific pace. Thousands of solutions provided by no fewer than 6,242 different vendors are available to today’s CMO—27% YoY that’s likely to continue.
Included in the flood of evolving technology are at least 200 customer relationship management solutions, including established providers and disruptive new startups. How does a marketing leader at a large business with an enormous audience chose the right one?
Key Considerations for Choosing an Enterprise CRM
Enterprises have some unique challenges in meeting the ever-changing expectations of today’s connected consumer. It’s one thing to recognize the value of personalized, relevant experiences—but delivering them to hundreds of thousands ,or even millions, of individuals around the world is a daunting task for the most capable CMO.
Choosing an enterprise CRM that enables you to serve 1:1 experiences on a massive scale can mean the difference between earning loyalty and being forgotten. When comparing your options, take special care to consider the following factors:
The key to understanding your customers as individuals, anticipating their needs, and engaging them in real-time lies in data.
Big data has been at CMOs’ top-of-mind for years now; finding ways to organize, interpret and act on the mountains of consumer information now available remains a high priority.
Almost every CRM has some amount of data analytics capabilities. But that can range from rudimentary web analytics to sophisticated deterministic data science.
Ideally, an enterprise CRM will provide access to a large pool of proprietary data that can be used to supplement and enhance your own first-party customer data. Enterprises often struggle with large silos of disparate data—a good CRM option also will be able to flexibly adapt and unify those scattered resources into a single view of your customers.
Today’s consumers are active on a broad selection of channels and devices at any given time. An effective enterprise CRM must be able to accumulate real-time signals from any input and translate them into thoughtful omnichannel responses.
Finally, a great enterprise CRM needs to be extremely secure when it comes to data and align to quickly-evolving social and regulatory privacy standards. Given the sheer volume of data a large organization handles and the sensitivity of the information within, enterprises can’t afford to take chances. Recent history is full of high-profile breaches that compromised corporate and customer data and tarnished brands—don’t let your marketing technology platform be your biggest vulnerability!
Automation is what enables an enterprise to take a powerful, relevant, personalized customer experience and scale it up to thousands or even millions of individuals around the world.
Most CRMs have some automation capability, many of them lack the capacity to constantly process and manage a compelling relationship with every customer. Seek out a provider that has the sophisticated AI technology needed to capture and interpret a flood of real-time customer signals and decide when, why and how to respond.
Most enterprises have an enormous tech environment that includes legacy systems, scattered databases, and third-party vendors. Even large organizations with robust IT teams find integrating new tools and platforms into their stack to be incredibly difficult.
An ideal CRM tool for enterprises is one that can flexibly adapt to your existing technology and data infrastructure. A quick onboarding process and the ability to unify customer data all in one place is a huge advantage in the perpetual battle for consumer attention and loyalty.
What the Experts Say
Shopping for the best CRM for your enterprise is an arduous process, but choosing the right one can quite literally determine the success of your company for the indefinite future. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of resources and expertise to pull from when selecting a solution that will bring the most value to your customers.
One such authority is the prestigious MarTech Breakthrough Awards, which recognizes leaders and innovators in the diverse and ever-changing world of marketing and advertising technology. This year, Zeta Global’s technology platform ZetaHub was awarded ‘Best CRM Solution for Enterprise’—standing out in a pool of over 2,000 nominees.
“The days of linear marketing are long gone, and multichannel marketing is now a necessity, but we find that many enterprise organizations are struggling with the challenge of managing this more complex customer journey,” said James Johnson, Managing Director at MarTech Breakthrough. “Zeta Global’s ZetaHub shines when it comes to enabling multichannel dialogue, empowering global brands to engage with customers and prospects across email, mobile, social, direct, and web. Congratulations to Zeta Global on its 2018 MarTech Breakthrough Award!”
Read the complete press release from MarTech Breakthrough here.
Click here to see Zeta’s announcement of the award.
Every day we work closely with our enterprise clients in Retail, Travel, Finance, Insurance, Media and beyond to better understand their customers and develop lasting 1:1 relationships. It’s not hyperbole: to see for yourself how our solution makes people-based marketing at scale possible, request a demo today.
Articles | July 13, 2017 | 5min read
Advanced Omnichannel Personalization for Media Brands
The growth of Media and Publishing websites directly depends on the size of their audience. The more the number of people browsing a Media website, the higher is the number of loyal readers and ad revenue.
Media websites constantly aim to grow their audience through increased pageviews. To do that, they undertake marketing campaigns across multiple channels such as email, mobile, ads, social media, and even the website itself. These campaigns can be highly effective when carried out in a seamless and coordinated manner. And, with today’s marketing technology, it can be a cakewalk.
This post will explain how Media companies can run personalized marketing campaigns for their readers across different channels, seamlessly. These campaigns aim to secure the highest user engagement rate and, subsequently, establish a larger audience base.
This post talks about the leveraging the following channels for personalized communication with readers:
The best way to make readers stay longer on a Media website is by presenting them the content they are most interested in. Offering personalized content on the website is expected to make readers browse more articles.
This can be achieved with a new generation AI-based marketing platform. An AI-powered marketing tool can help you monitor the behavior of readers on your website and learn about their interests and preferences. Based on this information, the tool can generate custom content recommendations for each reader. Next, these personalized recommendations can be strategically highlighted on your website, resulting in a substantial increase of pageviews.
This strategy is being effectively deployed by Snopes.com. Snopes.com generated more than twice the number ofpageviews from its personalized recommendation section. It implemented the recommendation section on each article page for maximum visibility. Here’s how it looks:
Below is a graph that shows the number of pageviews generated using Boomtrain’s AI-powered recommendations and Snopes.com’s tradional related articles section.
If implementing AI-powered recommendations seem a bit advanced, you can start with basic (but effective) recommendations on your Media website. You can feature “Popular Articles” that are being liked the most by your audience. Here is an example from Techcrunch:
These user recommendations aim to keep the readers engaged with your content, nudging them to convert into your loyal users.
After ensuring a personalized website experience for the visitors, it’s time to personalize off-site communication channels. And, arguably, the biggest communication channel for Media brands is email.
Email personalization, today, is no longer just about adding a user’s first name to the subject line. The entire content of an email can now be personalized at a 1:1 scale for each user with a smart marketing platform. Using a smart marketing platform, you can ensure that personalization across channels happens seamlessly. The marketing platform can utilize personalized content on the website to also customize emails for individual users.
Let me elaborate by giving you an example case study of Snopes.com. Snopes.com sends bulk emails to its users that are personalized using Boomtrain’s AI-engine (which also powers Snopes’ website recommendations). Here is how one of its personalized emails look for a user:
Snopes.com saw its email rate increase from 30% to 49% with AI-powered email personalization.
An advanced email strategy covers personalization of not just bulk emails but triggered emails as well.
There are several actions that users take on Media websites that indicate an open window for communication. Triggering personalized emails to users at those moments should increase engagement with readers and improve their user experience, too.
For example, you can lure your most interested readers into becoming your customers (subscribers) by triggering promotional emails. For readers that visit your website, say, at least 3 times a week, you can send an email asking them to subscribe to your paid newsletter and even offer an incentive if it seems appropriate.
Another example could be for users who are interested in specific type of articles. For instance, you can identify readers interested in sports news (say, visitors who read more than 8 sports articles a week), and trigger a sports-only weekly/daily email newsletter for them.
Mobile is an essential part of any omnichannel marketing strategy today. Media brands understand the importance of engaging with audience over the mobile channel in growing their business. That’s why most progressive Media companies have a strong presence over mobile. However, the channel can be used to its full potential only when the communication is personalized at a 1:1 scale.
Let’s delve deeper.
Mobile app personalization
Media brands can personalize their mobile apps just like how they personalize their website. An AI-powered marketing platform can help them create a personalized mobile app experience every user by showing the content of his/her choice.
For a seamless personalization experience, you have to take into account the behavior of readers on the mobile app and the website. Tracking the interests and preferences of users across both the channels will help create a comprehensive profile for every user. An intelligent marketing platform will use this knowledge to offer personalized recommendations for individual users.
The mobile app can either feature a personalized recommendations widget or make the entire mobile content personalized for each user. Quora does it quite well:
Mobile push notifications
Push notifications is increasingly becoming a widely-adopted channel by businesses and consumers across the globe. It plays an important role in a modern Media brand’s omnichannel communication.
Just like emails, push is a great medium to engage users and bring them back to your website or app further content consumption. Push as a channel can be effective in retaining existing users and converting them to customers.
Push notifications can be personalized along the same lines as emails. You can have bulk or triggered push notifications.
For instance, news brands can use Push effectively to send out time-sensitive articles and pull users back to your app.
Similarly, you can schedule bulk Push campaigns for readers, which can contain individually personalized content recommendations.
Media brands have to master personalization with their omnichannel marketing strategy. Only with personalization, they have a chance to maximize engagement with their readers, and, subsequently, grow their business.
Articles | May 3, 2017 | 4min read
5 Reasons You Need Omnichannel Marketing Automation
Digital marketing has undergone a massive transition, away from the “spray and pray” broadcast model to a focus on personal, 1:1 relationships between consumers and brands.
The biggest driver of this trend is of course the proliferation of digital media. Marketers now have access to a huge array of communication channels, and consumers have a greater ability to customize their experiences within those channels. Traditional marketing techniques like print media, email blast communication, and television ads are still in the mix, but they are quickly losing dominance in the face of digital channels that allow for a more nuanced experience for each individual user.
This isn’t new news, but many brands still struggle to balance this increasingly complex marketing mix, and many are still stuck treating their customers as segments rather than individuals. Customers demand a seamless experience that delivers meaningful value, no matter how and where they interact with the brand. Omnichannel Marketing Automation can help rapidly modernize your brand’s communication infrastructure.
What does the term Omnichannel mean to the marketing world?
First of all, what is omnichannel marketing?
The term “omnichannel” is not just another marketing buzzword. But, it is a shift in the marketing paradigm, towards providing seamless user experience regardless of channel or device. Ad today, it’s quickly becoming table stakes.
Consumers today can interact with a brand at a physical store, an event, a website, a mobile app, social media, email, mobile ads, push notifications, as well as all the traditional channels (TV, radio, print, direct mail, etc). Omnichannel marketing is simply a system for ensuring all those channels function cohesively and support a single, unified marketing strategy. It puts marketers in the shoes of customers—helping them knit together users’ interactions with their brand, and creating a seamless experience no matter where they begin or end their engagement.
Of course, creating a seamless and personalized brand journey for every individual consumer is extremely (even prohibitively) labor intensive… unless you have a way to automate it. Omnichannel Marketing Automation uses powerful technology to automatically trigger the right communication for the right consumer across web, email, mobile and other digital channels.
Advantages of Omnichannel Marketing Automation
1. A seamless user experience
A user might visit a physical store to check out a product and later checkout via an online store on his mobile device. With Omnichannel Marketing Automation, you can track them through that entire journey, triggering communications to the right channel at the right time, and never forcing the customer to “start over” just because they didn’t complete their interaction in one channel.
Another great use case is customer support. With the usage of omnichannel automation, auser could raise their complaint via an email ticket, and that issue could end up getting resolved via a phone call or live chat with no gaps in communication.
2. Specific content to address specific pain points
One of the most effective ways to attract an audience is tapping into content marketing. The capital investment is low, and it can have a huge impact on loyalty. One of the key features of Omnichannel marketing automation is its ability to target user based on their activity level on different channels.
For example, one user reads your blog from his mobile device. He may appreciate being notified about a new post via push notification. Another user checks your blog when she arrives at wok in the morning. She may be more likely to engage with an email notification or even a weekly newsletter.
An Omnichannel marketing automation system monitors all these user behaviors and automatically personalizes the content it delivers based on the individual user’s interests and optimizes it to the preferred channel. The result is more consistent and deeper engagement, that all takes place on your customer’s terms.
3. Smarter Audience Segments
Using omnichannel marketing automation, you can capture the behavior of your customers to build a rich and insightful user profiles. These profiles can be used to develop buyer personas, implement personalized recommendations, and assist your sales and support team in prospecting.
Segmenting the audience in this way can help marketers develop different strategies for different sets of users and lead to better conversion rate optimization. While the long term goal should always be “segments of one,” creating smarter segments can goa long way towards increasing the ROI of your campaigns by allowing you to use your creative/content generation time more efficiently and target users more effectively.
4. Better collaboration across your company
Omnichannel marketing automation can unify your various teams and help your whole company function as a well-oiled marketing machine. Every employee from your tech, customer support, sales, and marketing teams gets access to a customer’s profile. Additionally, they’ll be able to reach out and interact with the client on a channel of their choice.
Omnichannel systems unify various customer resources into a single profile. All their social accounts, support tickets, transactional history, etc is available to the various people responsible for communicating with them at each stage in the customer journey.
5. Better customer support
Omnichannel marketing isn’t just about marketing either. It can help your support team understand the customers and address their issues faster and more effectively. By surfacing all of a customer’s data and preferences in one view, support teams are able to customize their interactions. Their view includes:
Contact info for all relevant channels
The full history and context of the customer relationship with the brand
Alerts and warnings of critical issues before they occur
Knowledge of the customer’s communication preferences
Automatic process and triaging of inbound communications
Building a unique and seamless customer experience takes a lot of effort and time. Smart thinking and smart technologies like Omnichannel Marketing Automation can dramatically speed up the process. And when we create better experiences for our customers, the growth in community and revenue will follow close behind.
Artificial Intelligence | March 28, 2017 | 6min read
Artificial Intelligence Powered Marketing Automation for Modern Marketers
Marketing automation has been around for a few years, helping marketers save time in deploying campaigns manually and spend more time developing effective strategies. And like any other technology, marketing automation, too, is evolving with time.
Marketing automation today is the most sophisticated — capable of understanding a user’s behavior and sending relevant communication via an appropriate channel.
This modern marketing automation platform works on top an Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine. The AI engine powers the marketing automation platform with smart decision-making, providing the who, what, when,and how of communication.
In this post, we’ll delve deeper and see how the modern, AI-powered marketing automation actually works.
The post covers the following aspects of a modern marketing engine:
The traditional marketing automation services basically worked on an email list that marketers fed to the platform. It allowed marketers to segment users on the basis of certain demographic features such as age, gender, location, etc., and communicate accordingly. The modern marketing automation systems, however, goes way beyond that.
The modern marketing automation platform is not limited to just emails and provides access to more channels (more on this in the next section). Further, marketers can now move on from basic segmentation and send communications to users triggered by their actions. The platform can track every action that a user takes across channels — website, mobile, email, etc. — and send relevant communication accordingly.
For instance, Boomtrain tracks user actions as activities and behaviors. An activity can vary from simple page views to more complex ones such as shopping cart updates. Behaviors, on the other hand, are a combination of activities — e.g., when a user views an item multiple times but never purchases. Talking to users during these activities — when they are the most engaged — promises to deliver marketers a higher rate of conversions.
Marketing automation used to be synonymous with emails just a few years ago. Now, a modern marketing automation platform can allow marketers to reach users via a range of channels — push, messenger, SMS, in-app, IVR, and emails.
It is also the need of the hour, with millennials using multiple channels to connect with their favorite brands. Often, there is no single best channel — but a combination of channels — to reach your users in today’s digital era.
A truly smart marketing automation platform communicates with users through their preferred choice of channels. For instance, with Boomtrain, marketers can choose to send a message to users through the channel in which they have the highest engagement. This is what modern day marketers call Omnichannel Marketing Automation.
In short, the modern marketing automation helps marketers deﬁne dynamic segments and schedule triggered messages across email, push and SMS. They can chat live with users at precisely the right moment, build dynamic web and mobile app content that is individually personalized.
The traditional marketing platform allowed marketers to personalize user communication at a basic level; it was mostly limited to adding a user’s name at the start of the communication.
The modern, AI-powered marketing automation has arguably brought a revolution in personalization. Using AI to track and understand preferences and interests of users, the platform is able to curate highly individualized content for each user — and send over users’ preferred channel(s).
For example, a Media or Publishing brand can learn the kinds of articles that a user likes. The brand can then send recommendations to the user based on that. Similarly, eCommerce brands can learn users’ preferences based on products/items they view. eCommerce brands can send personalized product recommendations to users and have a higher chance of effecting a purchase.
As we’ve seen above, an AI-based marketing automation platform helps marketers determine the “what” (personalized content), “who” (per dynamic triggers) and “how” (via appropriate channels) of marketing communication. A truly smart marketing automation engine also helps marketers determine the “when” of sending out a communication.
Just like how users have different content interests, they have different preferred times of engaging with your messages. An AI-powered marketing engine can determine that, and send the message, say email, at the time which has the highest chance of engagement.
This feature in the Boomtrain Marketing Engine is known as Prime Time Messaging. Boomtrain’s Prime Time Messaging optimizes campaign delivery on an individual basis to drive deeper content engagement, product sales, or other conversion goals.
For example, if you schedule a broadcast email to your email list using Prime Time Messaging, your email list members will receive the email at a distinct time, personalized on the basis of their past engagement history.
A traditional marketing automation system kept your contacts — prospects, and customers — as just names and plain emails (with a few more basic data fields). Hence, the contact list could be segregated only into broad fundamental categories, not providing any valuable insights.
With the marketing automation platforms of today, your contacts are much more than just names and email addresses. The platforms can capture every contact’s (and even anonymous visitor’s) interaction with your brand, and build individual user graphs that incorporate behaviors, sentiments, and preferences to present a unified view of each customer.
The modern marketing platform allows you to segment users on the basis of dynamic attributes — relatively basic ones such as lifecycle stage status or advanced ones such as specific user activities and behaviors.
With Boomtrain Marketing Engine, for example, you can learn the entire activity history of a user. You can understand how certain users engage with your communication and resources, and find conversion leaks. You can also identify the fraction of users that respond the most/least to your emails or push notifications and communicate with them accordingly. In short, segregating users on the basis of their behavior is a cakewalk.
The modern marketing automation platform truly allows marketers to reach the right user through the right channel at the right time. Marketers can now deliver highly personalized communication to each user via their preferred channel. They can track every activity of a user and connect with them accordingly.
An AI-powered automation engine helps marketers spend more time thinking of ways to delight your users and less time deploying campaigns.
Ominchannel vs Multichannel : Advantages of Omnichannel Marketing Over Multichannel Marketing
The surge in modern technology coupled with new marketing strategies, brings a new wave of marketing jargon that every marketer has to get acquainted with and adapt accordingly.
Today, people consume information via various screens and devices. The early 2000s used to be so comfortable, right? Online information and media consumption wasn’t so scattered. Desktop was our only way to the world wide web and all the information was available on a single window.
That’s not the case anymore, thanks to the revolution of smart devices that started with Apple’s launch of the iPhone. The world rapidly grew into a more digitally-connected place. It’s astonishing to think about the number of devices that are now used to connect people with the world of information(I mean the internet).
Today there are plethora of devices — smartphones, tablets, wearables, smart TVs, etc., — and it’s just the start. Tech giants are experimenting with even more realistic tech. Things like AI based personal assistants are now showing up at everyone’s home (Think Google Home and Amazon Echo). Augmented reality based wearable like HoloLens by Microsoft allows you to discover things around the world without leaving the comfort of your home. The modern world is getting scattered when it comes to consumption of information.
This begs the question: How does a digital marketer utilize the communication channels that these devices bring with them and provide the right information to the consumer at the right time? Or, how does a top brand approach a world where there is no scarcity of devices to access information on the go? A world where every device has equal importance, and missing even a single device might lead to losing a huge chunk of potential customers.
And this is when two wildly popular marketing tactics comes to our mind, Omnichannel marketing and multichannel marketing. Let’s take a look at how these tactics are tackling this complex problem.
The Multichannel Marketing Approach
To counter the growing diversity of media consumption, marketers came out with a multichannel approach.
Multichannel marketing refers to the practice of interacting with customers using a combination of direct and indirect communication channels like the website, mobile app, email, offline advertisements, etc. This enables the user to take action (preferably to buy your product or use your service) accordingly via any of the channels.
Omnichannel marketing is a cohesive partnership between all engagement channels, where information is served based on data-driven decisions. This approach also utilizes all available channels, but in a smarter way, to interact with the user.
Omnichannel marketing utilizes user data like demographics, location, user activity, user behavior to serve information via the right medium or channel to the user.
Wait a minute, isn’t that what Multichannel marketing is?
The multichannel approach is considered to be the idea behind the origination of omnichannel marketing. Omnichannel marketing also utilizes various channels and so does the former one.
All this confusion lead many marketers to think that multichannel marketing and omnichannel marketing are the same things.
But, most people miss the stark difference between them. Let an example help you out here:
Let’s say, you just launched a new product and you want to promote it to your users.
Using multichannel approach one would spread the word across all channels regardless of the user’s activity level on each and every channel. So in theory, the user will receive the same information, on their mobile app, email, desktop app and so forth.
This is a jarring user experience, as the user might have already checked the new release via his or her mobile device and there is no use of sending the same message to their mailbox. A user will find it repetitive and counter-intuitive.
On the other hand, the Omnichannel approach will provide the same information to the user on the device he or she is most active on. A smarter omnichannel system takes it a level further, by optimizing the delivery time window, so that the user receives the message when they are using their phone. Hence, increasing the chances of message discovery and user engagement.
Here is a simple example:
If you’re a mobile first user of a product, then you’ll get a push notification about the product release first. If the push notification doesn’t engage the user, then the omnichannel system will notice it and trigger an email to your account in order to increase the chances of engaging the user.
Multichannel marketing tries to implement a seamless experience for your customers whereas Omnichannel marketing truly provides a seamless experience to your customers.
To put things into perspective – Multichannel approach was born in the year 2004 and Omnichannel approach came into existence 9 years later, in 2013. These are times when Google started seeing a sharp increase in search for these keywords.
It is the very period when Google’s Android phones and Apple’s iPhone were becoming mainstream mobiles in the market.
The need for an omnichannel experience
The omnichannel approach came into existence to tackle the inefficiency of multichannel marketing, which was based on the idea — the larger the net, the more fish you catch.
And therefore, Omnichannel marketing today is considered to be one of the breakthrough marketing tactics. It enables us to reach a user at the right time, with the right information on the right channel. It provides a seamless experience as I mentioned above.
Today, most stores and brands whose mode of revenue is offline are also augmenting their efforts towards an online approach. The reason behind such a transition is the changing mindset of a modern consumer.
One of the best ways to explain what I said above would be referring to what folks at UX magazine said:
“When customers call your company, they don’t view your support channels separately; to them, everything is managed as a whole, not a bunch of different departments. And they’re not wrong to view the customer experience this way—91% of customers want to pick up where they left off when they switch between channels.”
A simple example would be how seamless a purchase experience is on Amazon.
Last week when I decided to buy a Playstation 4 Pro for myself. I was at my office desk at that moment and decided to buy one via their website. I went ahead and added the PS4 Pro to my cart. And like any average consumer, the “price is too high” syndrome hit me. I started searching for a better deal, and as a result I totally forgot about going back to Amazon.
3 hours later, after going through 24 websites and over 40 listings, I was not able to find a cheaper deal. It was already past office hours, so I decided to make the purchase through Amazon later on.
Once I was home, I realized I left my laptop at the office. So I picked up my smartphone to resume the purchase.
Due to a smart omnichannel implementation on Amazon, I quickly opened their mobile app, opened my cart which is synced across multiple devices, and made the purchase. A few taps and the PlayStation arrived the next day.
The takeaway here is that, the smart yet simple omnichannel experience that Amazon delivered. Amazon knew that its users have a habit of continuing a purchase cycle via multiple devices and that’s how they decided that all the user activity should be synced across all their applications, whether it’s their mobile application or website. Even if I would have decided against buying the console, Amazon’s omnichannel marketing engine, would trigger an app based notification on my cellphone to reduce their cart-abandonment rates.
Key Differences – Omnichannel Marketing vs Multichannel Marketing
Customer First, Channel Second
The biggest drawback of multi-channel also used to be it’s the greatest strength before omnichannel engagement came into the picture.
Multichannel marketing targets all the channels available to engage with the user. Marketers thought that if they could leave no channel unexplored, engagement is bound to jump by leaps and bounds, and that is crux of multichannel marketing.
In contrast, the omnichannel approach intertwines all the channels together with cross compatibility. The channels engage with users holistically to ensure they have a wonderful experience. Consider the example about Amazon I gave in the previous section. The omnichannel approach is an understanding that the customer comes first and the channel second, the message has to be conveyed to the user regardless of the channel without compromising on their experience.
User A might be a mobile first user and therefore he’ll get a notification about a sale on his mobile and User B, being an email first user, will get her promo on her email first. This is what Omnichannel does, it unites all the channel together to serve information to the user, where they are most likely to consume it.
The omnichannel approach focuses on providing every user a unified experience on any of their channels. A relatively similar experience on any device of your choice ensures that you have a consistent brand image and familiarity with your customers.
Whereas in a multichannel approach a marketer is bound to have higher complexity in terms of customer communication because of the sheer diversity of the channels and collateral. Maintaining consistent messaging across all channels becomes tedious, as all channels have to utilized regardless of their activity levels.
This brings me to the next implication.
Omnichannel approach’s implementation is intuitive in nature compared to multichannel.
One has to blatantly exploit all the channels for the very same message when it comes to multichannel, whereas the OC approach uses a single message and selects the channel to target a user, based on data gathered from the user’s behavior. A smarter omnichannel engine automatically gathers the information on its own and smartly tailors the message to maintain cross-channel brand image and messaging. Therefore lowering the chances of manual intervention compared to older multichannel approach.
This leads to simpler understanding from a marketer’s perspective, less data clutter and higher cost effectiveness.
When it comes to omnichannel marketing vs multichannel marketing, omnichannel wins hands down. It’s not a buzzword or a new marketing Jargon ( Yes, growth hacking, I am looking at you). It’s a way to provide your users the best possible experience
Omnichannel finally helps us to tackle the 3R’s of marketing — right information at the right time to the right user. All these experiences are achieved thanks to the huge pool of data gathering prowess that machine learning and AI brought with them.
Telling Better (Digital) Stories – Spotify’s Impeccable User Engagement
In our previous article on telling better (digital) stories, we spoke about how modern marketers are orchestrating customer communication seamlessly over several marketing channels(email, mobile, onsite) in order to create lasting digital experiences. In today’s article we take you through the journey of how Spotify, one of the best examples of a company that has evolved from being overly traditional to highly targeted and personalized, has created a lasting narrative around its digital engagement landscape.
Spotify is one of the largest brands in the music industry. With over 60 million users, and estimated to add another 60 million in 2017, Spotify is strongly poised to remain as an industry leader in the foreseeable future. One of Spotify’s strength over the years has been its emphasis on customer engagement strategy.
Their engagement strategy is flawlessly built with a lot of emphasis placed on the user’s persona. Even though it has access to almost all the aspects of a user, Spotify focuses and relies on non-intrusive marketing strategies. In fact, they have mastered this form marketing over the years. Spotify is a great example of non-intrusive and highly personalized user engagement.
And therefore, we decided to start with Spotify as our first brand in our deconstruction series of customer engagement narratives.
Spotify’s engagement campaign is a combination of emails, in-app notification, push-notifications and a lot of personalization.
Why Publishers Need A Winning Mobile Engagement Strategy
To study and understand Spotify’s user engagement effort, we went ahead and mimicked a basic user.
We signed up for a free account. Remember Spotify is one of the few music streaming service that has a free tier, which is supported by selling ads.
Next, we downloaded their desktop application, as well as their mobile application.
For the next 2 weeks, we made about 6 playlists and added almost 100+ songs in our collection. We made sure, we give Spotify’s engine enough data that it can profile our user behavior.
By the end of 2nd week, we moved their premium user plan, which costs $9.99 in the US.
We ended the campaign at the end of 3rd week.
Over this period we monitored and studied their user engagement process. We read every email, push-notifications and in-app notification. We also kept a gaze at the apps for on-screen dynamic recommendation, which involves serving suggestion based on user-behavior and app-engagement.
Once the campaign ended, we developed a dedicated web-page to share Spotify’s user-engagement strategy.
On a whole, we loved Spotify’s engagement process that included, email, in-app and push notifications. However, we noticed that there was room for improvement when it came to promoting the platform and user-based critical actions.
Glimpse of What You’ll Find in the Full Deconstruction
Why does Spotify communicate in the most non-intrusive manner with customers. Are they doing the right thing by having a passive marketing strategy than a aggressive one?
How is Spotify using omni-channel engagement to give customer information right when they need it?
How Spotify is lagging in their social media strategy and engagement.
And much more! Click below to see the full deconstruction of Spotify’s user engagement.
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