Whether you call it cross-channel or omnichannel marketing, as a consumer, I love it. I love that I can connect with brands how and when I want. I love when my mobile search results show me nearby store inventory. I love opening an email with a discount code for the items I left in my online shopping cart. It makes my life easier, and I feel like a VIP who’s getting the red carpet treatment.
As a marketer, I hate cross-channel marketing, or rather, I hate how hard it is. Using cross-channel marketing to delight customers and show your competition who’s boss is a thing of beauty, but it comes at a price.
Every consumer has their own preferences and takes a unique path to purchase that involves a variety of devices and channels, both online and offline. In fact, Google reports that 90% of people switch between devices to complete a single task, using at least three devices per day. This behavior makes tracking and attribution incredibly complex, which makes creating cohesive and personalized journey for every prospect and customer a challenge.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Many leading brands are creating awesome cross-channel journeys that give customers the one-to-one experiences they’ve come to expect. So what are they doing right, and what can we apply to our own strategies?
Here are three cross-channel tactics from brands we can all learn from:
1. Factor Offline Engagement into Personalization
Marketers have to create a personal experience that reflects the consumer’s needs, preferences, and previous behavior. It’s all about creating consistency—something that tells the buyer that we know who they are.
Many brands are doing this though email, re-targeting ads, and web personalization. Leading brands, however, are taking it a step further and creating cohesion between online and offline channels. One of the easiest ways to do this is to customize the caller experience based on online activity. If a prospect has shown interest in a specific product, they shouldn’t have to repeat this information over the phone. Make sure your call center or sales agents have real-time access to the caller’s complete engagement history (what they clicked on and when, preferences indicated, items purchased, etc.) so they can pick up the conversation without missing a beat.
Cross-channel marketers aren’t only customizing the caller experience, they’re harnessing data from phone conversations to personalize the next step in the prospect’s journey. For example, Vivint Smart Home, the largest smart home provider in North America, re-targets callers who didn’t make a purchase with a targeted offer. They also send follow-up emails based on what happened and what was said during a phone conversation. This tactic can not only be used to capture unconverted callers, it can be used to cross-sell and upsell current customers.
2. Offer Easy Ways to Connect and Engage
Good marketers put their customers first, regardless of the challenges it may pose to their tracking and attribution efforts. Being cross-channel means being where your customers are and making it easy for them to take the next step, whether that’s finding inventory information, getting a personalized price quote, or reading customer reviews.
Tuft and Needle, a direct to consumer mattress company, does this really well. They do social advertising, and re-targeting, and their website offers a variety of ways to connect: you can visit a store location, call them, chat with a live representative, sign up for email, and they even encourage you to leave their site to read real, unsolicited customer reviews. There are no single, generic paths to purchase here.
3. Blend the Online and Offline Experience
Brands that nail this will have an enormous competitive advantage, especially retailers. Today’s mobile consumers are shopping on mobile and in store, even frequently doing both at once. Use mobile to enhance the in-store experience and don’t be afraid to encourage mobile users to visit your location or in-store visitors to shop on your mobile app—it shouldn’t be a competition between your store and website or app.
Nordstrom does a great job of blending mobile and offline experiences. When shoppers search for a product, Nordstrom will display search results with the closest store location and inventory information. Shoppers can buy online or simply go to the nearest store.
Not only is Nordstrom a great example of an online-offline experience, but it’s also an example of a brand giving their consumers options to connect in a way that is most convenient.
I know cross-channel marketing sounds like an obnoxious buzzword, but in truth, it’s the reality of today’s customer journey. If we want to win the hearts of our customers, marketing has to be just as cross-channel as they are. I know it’s hard, but it’s also pretty exciting and the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Cross-Channel Marketing is here to help!