Omnichannel is the buzzword of the marketing world that trumps all others. Omnichannel marketing is an omnipotent, all-knowing marketing machine. Throughout 2014, I heard numerous presentations, webinars, and panels discussing how omnichannel will be the defacto standard of marketing communication moving forward. At the end of the year, I read case studies on omnichannel marketing initiatives, and at SXSW this year, there were more than a few conversations of people discussing their new omnichannel marketing solutions. The hard truth? Omnichannel is complete BS.
Omnichannel is not something you can go online and buy. There is hope, though. Omnichannel marketing is something to aspire to, and there are effective ways to work towards that type of marketing, but first let’s start to deconstruct omnichannel marketing.
Omnichannel Is an Aspiration, Not a Line Item
Just to clarify, I am defining omnichannel marketing as:
Omni-Channel Marketing is the evolution of multi-channel marketing, but is concentrated more on a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels, i.e. mobile internet devices, computers, brick-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalog and so on.
In short, omnichannel is a personalized customer experience for each individual across every imaginable channel. Omnichannel’s definition seems to be like inner peace – something we aspire to, but certainly not something we can buy.
Omnichannel Requires a Single View of the Customer
One of the main reasons omnichannel can not be achieved is very simple – data. Anyone working in marketing understands the challenge with data. Compelling data quickly becomes “out-of-date data,” coupled with “duplicate entries,” and other inaccuracies. The larger the data set, the more difficult it is to achieve a state of “clean data.”
In a previous post covering the challenges of personalization, data was revealed as a major issue for marketers. Whether personalization initiatives fail because 40% of marketers cite not having enough data or “inaccurate data” as a challenge (38%), it is clear that data inaccuracies are preventing personalization initiatives. Omnichannel requires clean data and a unified customer profile view. Forrester research found that 55% of marketers struggle with “building a comprehensive single view of each customer across all sales and marketing channels.”
For omnichannel marketing to work, clean and accurate data is a requirement. There is no way you can have a 360 degree view of a customer’s interaction with your brand if the data is spotty, and it’s very clear from research that almost every marketer deals with spotty or inaccurate customer data.
Omnichannel Marketing Requires a Team That Doesn’t Exist
Working at Waterfall, I have a lot of experience communicating with marketing teams. Each organization is divided up differently, and at a major brand, there are a variety of marketing teams – social, content, email, web, CRM, and special projects. Each team has different metrics, goals, and authority within an organization. For omnichannel to work as a marketing strategy, you might want to ask yourself what would an “omnichannel team” do? Would all other departments fall underneath them? What would be the ideal candidate to work on an omnichannel marketing team? What would they be measured on? Omnichannel marketing is something a CMO can easily talk about at a very high level, but I believe that actual, thoughtful implementation of omnichannel would be difficult for the marketers who actually have to do the job.
Too Many New Channels Appear Too Fast
Even with 100% accurate customer data, a 360 degree customer profile, and a team that is tasked with overseeing the seamless customer experience across all channels how do omnichannel solutions deal with new channels like Meerkat, Periscope, and Snapchat? For marketers to deliver a “seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels” it would make sense for an omnichannel solution to build an integration with each new channel as quickly as possible. The increasingly rapid rise and fall of different social networks shows that it is clearly unsustainable for any company to integrate with every available channel in a way that all customer data effectively adds to a “single customer view.”
Omnichannel marketing might not be something we can purchase, but like inner peace, it’s a noble pursuit. Later, I will cover the true cost of buying an “omnichannel marketing solution” and strategies to work towards an omnichannel mindset.
If you’d like to learn more about omnichannel marketing, chat with an Upland Mobile Messaging expert from our team. We’re always happy to help!