How to Create Seamless Cross-Channel Engagement
Omnichannel, once considered to be merely a buzzword used to color up marketing conversations, has evolved into a marketing must-have these days. As omnichannel campaigns have delivered significantly higher engagement rates and average customer expectations have shifted towards personalized experiences across channels, marketers have been required to implement a cross-channel strategy to stay competitive and relevant.
According to an HBR report, 73% of customers use multiple channels during their shopping journey, across which they expect personalized experiences. Considering the amount and variety of customer data collected at every step of the customer journey and the effort put into campaign planning, it is plausible to anticipate an excellent customer shopping experience. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. Most businesses still lack an effective cross-channel marketing strategy, mainly due to cluttered internal processes or inadequate technology capabilities to support their goals.
Instead, we generally see a multi-channel strategy, where two or more marketing channels (i.e., SMS, email, social media, push notification) are leveraged without a clear focus on consistency across channels. On the other hand, a cross-channel (or omnichannel) strategy goes the extra mile and puts customer engagement at the heart of all efforts, using marketing platforms tenaciously and leveraging data to unearth meaningful insights.
Customer journey often begins on one channel/device and ends on another; thus, keeping customers engaged while they shift between channels is a massive challenge for marketers. That’s why marketers must have an organized and agile approach to keep their potential buyers immersed and drive brand stickiness.
McKinsey’s research strikingly remarks, “Offering a compelling omnichannel experience used to be the bleeding edge. Now it’s a requirement for survival.” The same research reveals that most Gen Z buyers do not even consider conventional channel boundaries, increasingly evaluating brands based on the seamless experiences they offer. Reaching your customers via the right channels at the right time using the right messages is of utmost importance in today’s ever-competitive market conditions.
In this article, we will look into the fundamental steps for creating seamless cross-channel customer engagement to increase customer retention and maximize returns.
1) Deep dive into your customer data and map customer journeys
Before hustling to expand omnichannel capabilities, businesses first need to step back and consider the underlying value drivers for their business. Multiple approaches and acute margin pressures risk falling into a downward spiral that can destroy value. Thus, business leaders need a laser focus on value creation.*
By diving deep into your analytics, you can uncover invaluable information about your customers based on their past behavior, demographics, spending habits, the channels they prefer, the ways they engage with your brand, what content triggers purchase behavior, and where you lose them. These insights will then help you discover the most effective means to create customer engagement for your unique customers and formulate your engagement strategy.
2) Create consistency across all channels
While boosting marketing ROI to remain lucrative through various channels is vital, businesses must also ensure coherent customer experiences across all channels. This consistency is sustained through integrated brand imagery and values, content calendars, and the tone of communication. In other words, your content should send a coherent message across all channels in different formats catered to that medium. For example, if an influencer on Instagram is campaigning about one of your products to a certain customer segment or group, your email campaign for this group should include that product with customer reviews, your website should be able to display a banner about the same product/campaign when customers within the same group visits, and your brick-and-mortar shop should have visuals related to this campaign.
3) Unify your marketing approach
We often see that departments in an organization work independently in silos, using different platforms to process and store customer data and failing to exchange information. (You can refer to our blog “Data Unification and Breaking Down Silos” for more details on this topic.)
This siloed structure results in inconsistent and disconnected experiences for customers, which eventually eradicates the brand image. For instance, when a premium-level online shopper visits your brick-and-mortar store and the salesperson at the store has no record of the customer’s online transactions, it immediately transmits the message that you do not care about the customer and have no interest in acknowledging their spending habits and preferences.
However, if the brick-and-mortar store employees could retrieve all the information related to this customer and show a gesture based on the customer’s preferences, the customer would have had a much more seamless and satisfying experience. According to a Thunderhead study, 89% of customers develop an improved opinion of a business that recalls previous interactions.
Consistent branding allows for creating a comprehensive brand experience instead of depending solely on the moment of purchase. Each channel complements the other, eventually creating an immersive total brand experience.
4) Increase the number of customer touchpoints
Leveraging multiple channels increases visibility, creates a more powerful brand image, and drives customer loyalty. An HBR study indicates that omnichannel customers love using a brand’s various customer touchpoints in multiple combinations and locations. The study also states that omnichannel customers use a brand’s mobile apps to compare prices or download coupons, they are keen to use digital tools in the store, such as interactive catalogs, price checkers, or tablets, and they may buy online and pick up in-store, or buy in the store and get their purchases shipped home.
Rather than picking a few traditional channels to stay connected with customers, it would be sensible to increase your touchpoints by continuous conversation across multiple channels such as email, push notifications, SMS, pop-up, and in-app/browser messages, as well as physical stores, TV ads, and digital ads.
5) Finetune the channel priority based on data
In today’s fast-paced environment, trying to meet every potential omnichannel need at every possible touchpoint is not worthwhile, likely to result in a lack of direction, conflicting priorities, slow advancements, and massive costs. Choosing the cross-channel journeys to focus on is one of the most vital steps for launching a targeted omnichannel effort.
McKinsey’s research “Redefine the omnichannel approach: Focus on what truly matters“ shows that more than 50% of customers engage with three to five channels during each buyer journey. Businesses that successfully adopt a more customer-centric perspective and focus on the two or three most crucial cross-channel customer journeys can create substantial value and “moments of delight” for the customer during interactions.
While evaluating their data-driven insights for prioritization, businesses must take into consideration their customers’ propensity to utilize multiple channels and how much the customer attributes importance to a journey. With the help of enhanced customer-interaction data that depicts customer intentions and behaviors across channels, businesses can identify which cross-channel experiences truly matter the most and optimize their investments accordingly.
6) Balance technology with a personal touch
Many businesses undervalue the fact that customers are looking for personalized and contextually relevant messages rather than email blasts or generic content. Hybrid experiences integrating online digital messages and personal interactions in physical stores make the key difference. When businesses use data effectively, interactions feel genuine, and customers feel more valued. A PwC study underlines the importance of balancing technology with a personal touch quoting the below statement:
“We know that millennials and younger people like to go to stores. We also know they like to be online. How we hook that up with the stores is going to be important. Linking technology and having the store people be as informed as the customer coming in with their smartphone is what’s really going to be important.”
– Ken Hicks, chairman, CEO, and president, of Foot Locker, Inc.
7) Find the right technology partner
As tech stacks expand and data size grows, in-house systems get prone to becoming more costly, complex, vulnerable, and unstable. Thus, once you define your strategy, goals, and budget, it is imperative to look for a future-proof technology that can support your cross-channel engagement strategy all the way.
It is possible to maintain effective cross-channel engagement by understanding your customers through data and using that data to create a more meaningful customer experience by adopting the right technology. Leveraging the right technology for your cross-channel engagement efforts will help streamline your campaigns with the appropriate content for each channel and provide a holistic customer experience.
Punic is a perfect omnichannel personalization platform helping solve the digital marketing needs of businesses at any scale and empowering marketers to deliver individualized campaigns without a single line of code. Punic supports different stages of the digital marketing process. With Punic, marketers can easily create robust customer experiences and take swift actions to build and automate their creative campaigns without waiting for developers. Be it SaaS or on-premise, Punic offers a smart and easy way to engage your customers.
If you are looking for a reliable technology partner for your cross-channel engagement activities, please get in touch with us.
8) Automate and optimize
Once you select your technology platform, you can start creating automated campaigns, monitor performance regularly, and optimize where necessary. Most common testing methods, such as A/B testing and multivariate testing, facilitate understanding your customers’ cross-channel journeys and how they respond to campaigns. Then, you can optimize and finetune the marketing campaigns based on testing results.