These are truly uncertain times. New Zealand’s lockdowns might have eased back, but COVID-19 is still heavily impacting the rest of the world and we truly don’t know what’s around the corner.
In the economic fallout of the pandemic, marketing budgets are feeling the pinch. There are, quite frankly, a vast number of other priorities on leaders’ plates.
Marketing automation could be a solution for Kiwi marketers looking to supercharge their campaigns in a time where they need to help their organisation get back on track. But why?
In a nutshell, why do people turn to marketing automation?
Marketing automation does what it says on the tin – automates key processes in the marketing funnel to improve efficiency and maximise accuracy. Not only can this enable marketers to focus on more important value-adding activities (without spending time on menial, repetitive tasks), it can also produce better data, which leads to more useful, measurable results.
So what does marketing automation look like?
Like all automated processes, marketing automation is a set of systems that can self-implement and repeat mundane tasks, evolving or updating as necessary based on user input (i.e. it can evolve to be more personal for customers).
To use an example, let’s imagine we are leading a campaign to drive users through a complete nurture funnel from awareness to conversion. If we design a series of eDMs, social media ads, Google search ads, articles and landing pages, whitepapers or other downloadable pieces, infographics, and videos, we can combine them all in an automated package that sends the right message to the right customer at the right time.
The flow might look something like this:
Customer A sees an ad on Facebook. They click, which takes them to a piece of desirable content they can submit an email address in order to download. Automatically, that customer is sent an email with their new content. Then, say two days later, they receive a follow-up email with more information that they might enjoy, or perhaps a reminder that they have yet to take advantage of an opportunity that is open to them. They open this email, where they see our infographic and video. Over time, we automatically send more emails or target them with evolving social media content in order to match their progress through the funnel. If Customer A doesn’t like our content, the system can drop them out of the flow. If they engage, they can receive more, and it becomes increasingly tailored to their past choices in the funnel because all the while we are gathering data to better serve this customer.
At the end of this process, we’ve gently nurtured a new customer from awareness to purchase while barely lifting a finger ourselves after the initial setup. They have had a unique, tailored experience, and have turned into a satisfied customer that feels we genuinely care about their needs.
The benefits of marketing automation, in numbers
Anecdotes are one thing, but numbers are better.
According to Forrester research, companies that invest in marketing automation improve their customer reach by 30-50%, leads generated by 15-20%, and reduce their campaign execution time by 20-30%.
The Annuitas Group showed that businesses using marketing automation to nurture customers experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.
On the subject of sales, Aberdeen Group research suggests that companies using marketing automation can see as much as 53% higher conversion rates and 3.1% higher annual revenue growth than non-users.
Marketing automation love
Marketing automation is designed to be efficient. By investing in these systems, marketers can deploy fast, effective marketing campaigns even during times of economic uncertainty. After the initial setup there is far less input required than would otherwise be with no automation, meaning marketers and their staff can focus on more important strategic tasks that will help the business rebuild in a new, post-COVID-19 world.
Birthdays are the ultimate celebration of the individual. As such, they’re a valuable opportunity for brands to flex their CX muscles – showing customers they see them, appreciate them and celebrate them.
The brand value in birthdays is clear. 84% of customers say they want to be treated like a person, not a number, and say that such a personalised experience is key to winning (and keeping) their business. Birthdays – decidedly not a business metric or a sales target – are the ultimate display in showing the customer that you see them as a real person – and showing a little love.
84% of customers say they want to be treated like a person, not a number.
When improving customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25-95%, investing in something as seemingly inconsequential as a birthday doesn’t seem so inconsequential anymore.
Of course, this idea isn’t new. Many brands have caught on to the idea that they can surprise and delight customers with a little something special on their special day. And that means customers have come to expect it. So what’s the best way to treat your customers?
From personalised videos and emails to discount codes and physical gifts, there are a myriad of ways brands can make their customers feel special on their birthdays. We break down how to use email automation to celebrate a customer’s birthday – and how to do it right.
Step 1: Know your customer’s birthday
Asking for personal information such as date of birth is necessary for some businesses, and for others, it can feel invasive. If it is not mandatory for your business operations, consider making this field optional in your forms, or explain why you are collecting it – and hint at what customers might come to expect as a result. You can also ask for only the month, and send “birthday month” comms.
Cleaning your data is the first step in scheduling personalised birthday messages.
Got a lot of data, but not a lot of consistency? Consider a data cleansing campaign, in which you can incentivise customers to confirm their information or add more to their lead record. You can also enhance your data with progressive profiling on your website – a user-friendly and subtle way to learn more about your customer for further personalisation.
If birthdays don’t seem right for your brand, how about other special days, such as the anniversary of when they bought a big ticket item with you (such as a car) or the anniversary of when they first signed up with you.
Step 2: Decide what you’re going to do
A birthday card is nice, but most would agree that a birthday present is even better. A free gift, or special birthday discount code can go a long way in customer loyalty – and brand advocacy.
After all, it’s no secret that getting a new client can cost 5x as much as retaining an old one – and that’s saying nothing of the exponential gains of having a happy, vocal customer who is advocating for you out in the market.
A few of our favourite birthday gifts:
A freebie. It’s easy to think free gifts are only for sectors like retail, but think again. While a physical gift like a product sample is definitely bound to win brands some loyalty points, sectors like finance can also get in on the fun. No, banks can’t give away money, but could you offer a free investing ebook or a one-on-one meeting with an adviser, free of charge? Consider what you have that would genuinely help your customer, and package it up nicely with a birthday-ready bow.
Consider what you have that would genuinely help your customer, and package it up nicely with a birthday-ready bow.
A discount code. Special birthday privileges will definitely get customers shopping with you, whether in-store or online. Consider a discount of 10% or more for the most impact, and consider further personalising the email with content or products the user has previously purchased or looked at. This way, you have an abandonment campaign rolled into the birthday special.
Another great tactic is to invite the customer to share a discount with a friend – turning one birthday into two (or more!) feel-good conversions.
Absolutely no cash for gifts? Personalised messages can be just as effective, especially when you use them as an opportunity to thank the customer for their patronage or inspire them for the year ahead. And they don’t have to be clunky or expensive to execute, thanks to automation tools that plug into just about any platform.
Personalised video. There are a few ways to do personalised video in an email. Our favourite is a service called Vidyard. Vidyard is a video hosting platform with intelligent data-usage capability built in, allowing personalised video thumbnails in email and personalised content journeys. We love how existing assets can be personalised and the emails automated through platforms like Marketo and Salesforce Pardot.
Personalised imagery. You can personalise imagery with a special birthday message using services like Nifty Images, which hooks up with your marketing automation platform to pull lead data into email imagery.
Step 3: Automate it.
Gone are the days of marking the calendar with birthdays. With birthday marketing, you need only set up the campaign once and then automate it to repeat annually. However, you should mark the calendar with a reminder to refresh the content once per year so no one gets the same gift twice!
If you’re looking for a new way to surprise and delight your customers and take your CX up a notch – a simple, automated birthday campaign could be just the ticket.
Digital transformation is empowering New Zealand businesses. In fact, in 2018, it was predicted that 55% of the nation’s GDP will be derived from digital technology by 2021.
It’s also no secret that leaders in digital transformation reap significant benefits compared to their under-developed competitors.
But “digital transformation” can be daunting. It’s not a silver bullet solution, and in fact is more of an ongoing process. But businesses can start small to make competitive gains straight away.
There are several ways to pick off the low hanging fruit and make a start transforming your business:
1. Start capturing data
Business success and data analytics go hand in hand – without the latter, it’s hard to measure the former. By capturing, analysing and acting based on quantitative data, a business can reduce cost inefficiencies by eliminating money-wasting processes.
The first step is just to start collecting data, says krunch.co Solution Architect Glen McMillan.
“There’s little a brand can do to meet digital experience expectations without well planned and integrated data,” says McMillan.
But that’s not to say you should start measuring everything. Nick Licence, krunch.co Director of Advertising Technology, advises businesses to de-prioritise vanity metrics, and instead “focus on measuring actions that actually drive business outcomes.”
2. Use data to build seamless customer journeys
Once you’re capturing relevant data, you can put it to use to build out an optimal customer journey.
By building your campaigns and tagging in a clever way, you can start to understand the different journeys your customers might take, and deliver the best experiences for them along the way.
“You need to get experience design right and then support that with the right data in the right place at the right time,” says McMillan. “Organise all of that and an otherwise good experience becomes a great one.”
After all, it’s ultimately about understanding how people, not algorithms, engage with your digital properties.
3. Use this information to start personalising
Talk of personalisation is everywhere right now, and for good reason. 86% of customers feel personalisation has an impact on what they purchase, and 25% say it significantly influences what they purchase.
With robust data in place and a process for utilising it, organisations can implement basic personalisation as a means to make customers feel more individually valued.
“Every brand should be trying their hand at some level of personalised messaging,” says Robert Moritz, krunch.co Executive Creative Director.
“Even if it’s just using the person’s name in a salutation or triggering a special customer anniversary eDM with unique statistics, the simplest personalised touch can go a long way toward building meaningful and lasting relationships.”
The low-hanging fruit of digital transformation start and end with the customer. By capturing good customer information and using it to learn your audience’s habits and histories, you can begin to tune a customer experience to feel more intuitive, enjoyable, and personalised.
“Prepare to be surprised by results and to test/iterate rapidly where change might be needed,” says Licence. “And look up from the dashboard once in a while – external, macro factors outside your control can play a big part in influencing results.”
This article was originally published on idealog.co.nz.
Content is a must-have digital marketing tool, but as with all components in the marketing machine, there’s a right and wrong way to go about producing it.
How, then, do organisations generate the best possible ROI from their digital content? By following these three rules:
Rule 1: Content isn’t any less important
Content might not feel as important as, say, investing in a big new technology, or spending millions on a brand refresh or TV commercial, but without content the other components of a digital campaign may as well not exist – because content is the window to the brand.
Companies should always consider their digital content at the outset of any campaign – giving it the same forethought and care as every other component. When content is fully integrated into the wider campaign it can be used in an extraordinarily strategic manner, capturing attention, nurturing leads, and driving action.
This 2019 campaign from the US mattress maker was a great example of the integration between content and brand. Each week from April-May 2019 Casper released a new piece of meditative audio to help its customers sleep, using the channels Spotify, IGTV and YouTube. It then promoted these with teasers via its other social platforms.
Why it worked
Casper understood its audience, its product, and how it could positively associate the two. Each positive association lifted the brand’s presence, and its trustworthiness in the minds of users.
Rule 2: Don’t produce just anything
Organisations shouldn’t produce any old content, but rather content that is fit for their brand and audience. Of course, every brand is different, but overall ‘good’ content has three key traits:
It’s smart – uniquely tailored to its audience based on their data (demographic, interests, pain points, etc.).
It’s valuable – it doesn’t waste their time. It presents a high degree of insight or entertainment, depending on which is appropriate.
It’s quality – ‘good’ content is actually good, as redundant as that may seem to say. It covers its basics, such as grammar, spelling and formatting, and is easy to handle from a user experience perspective – loads quickly and works smoothly, regardless of device.
High quality content will generally always out-perform poorly made content because it’s on-brand, on-target and inherently clickable.
Colgate may not produce the most exciting content, but the company knows its audience and their needs, and has perfectly catered to both. Its Oral Care Center is packed with informative content on dental hygiene (a search for ‘gum disease’ alone yields over 2,000 results), from the causes of bad breath to the treatment options for temporomandibular disorder, all designed in an easy-to-navigate content hub.
Why it worked
Health and hygiene can be anxiety-inducing subjects for many, and the internet is riddled with misinformation and untrustworthiness. Colgate users know, however, that for all their research needs they can go to one, authoritative place – Colgate’s own website.
Rule 3: Let your content fly
The key to effective content promotion is forethought. Content is capable of taking people on a journey from an emotional message to the actual product – and a well thought out content strategy is the best way to achieve this.
Using smart audience targeting, an organisation can show off its best content to the right people, in the right place, at the right time. It can break its users down into different segments to tailor them a more personalised experience, and it can integrate different arms of content to produce a complete, multi-platform experience – bringing together those big-budget TVCs with articles, social media, AR, podcasts, webinars, email nurtures, billboards…whatever it takes to get the word, and excitement, out.
This is one of the best examples of integrating different arms of content into a wide-reaching social campaign. LG pulled together short- and long-form video with Facebook Messenger, AR and user-generated content to draw global attention to its latest product, the LG TwinWash.
Why it worked
Users’ attention was captured with short videos about ‘ruined laundry’, then brought into a journey where they could submit their own stories to a Facebook chatbot, view an LG TwinWash in their home via AR, and discuss laundry disasters online with other users via Facebook. In one campaign, LG was able to build huge amounts of conversation around its new product, reaching a global audience in the process.
In a nutshell – to get the best ROI from digital content, it must never be an afterthought. Content will deliver results, but it’s at its best when backed with data and integrated into an organisation’s wider digital marketing matrix.
Customer experience workshops can be the difference between effective marketing campaigns, perfectly targeted and with all the right messaging, or inefficient content that wastes money.
During times of crisis, it’s more important than ever to tighten up your messaging for maximum impact and deliver a competitive customer experience. You can only do that once you know what the customer is thinking, feeling and doing, what they need, and what pain points they’re experiencing – all things you can map in a customer experience workshop.
To find out more about the what, why and how of customer experience workshops, we sat down with krunch.co’s Head of Digital Experience Amanda Moyle to gain her insider tips.
So, what is a customer experience workshop?
There are many different kinds of CX workshops – you could be doing empathy mapping, mapping the entire customer lifecycle or a specific experience, like a path to purchase.
Typically, I start by defining the personas using data collection and empathy mapping, then mapping a customer’s lifecycle with a brand, and then delving into specific experience mapping and messaging. It’s important to ensure we have a really clear grasp on who the customer is from the start. If we don’t understand the customer, it’s unlikely we can accurately map an experience that will work for them.
Empathy mapping workshops: An empathy mapping workshop helps flesh out the general emotional and mental state of a customer. It’s a useful exercise to do to get everyone in the same headspace as the customer, and it can contribute to data-driven personas that can be used for lots of different purposes.
Customer lifecycle workshops: Mapping the customer lifecycle may take you from cradle to grave, or just from when your customer first experiences your brand to when they last experience it (say, over a year or course of membership). It allows you to see the many touch points you have with your customer over the course of their time with your brand, as well as what their needs are and how that relates to your product or offering.
Customer experience workshops: Pain points and opportunities become very clear when you map a specific experience a customer has with your product or service, for example, their path to purchase, or their experience being onboarded.
Content workshops: Content workshops can be useful to pin the right messages to the right points in time and the right personas. I like to workshop this and then create a messaging matrix for the team to use in all comms going forward.
Why are customer workshops important?
Getting on the same page
Actually putting yourself in the shoes of your user personas and mapping out, step by step, what they experience from your brand – how they’re feeling at a point in time, what they’re doing, what they’re getting versus what they need – can be a very revealing exercise. It often highlights gaps not only in the customer experience, but in the understanding within the marketing team of what’s going on – what’s live, what message gets sent when, where there’s currently content and where there are opportunities.
When you map a customer lifecycle or experience, you have a clearer idea of what journeys, comms or experiences will make the biggest business impact because of the impact they’ll have on the customer’s experience. You can then prioritise marketing work accordingly. When you map personas, you have a better idea of which customer segment has the biggest impact on your business, and can therefore focus your marketing efforts more efficiently.
When you map a customer lifecycle or experience, you have a clearer idea of what journeys, comms or experiences will make the biggest business impact because of the impact they’ll have on the customer’s experience.
Customer Experience Mapping
From a customer lifecycle or experience workshop, it becomes very clear not only what comms need to be produced – a welcome journey, for example, to ease the customer’s onboarding process – but also what those comms need to say, and how they need to say them. You get all of this from firstly understanding your personas and then understanding their experience via the mapping exercises.
What’s the best way to learn about your customer?
You can learn about your audience in a number of ways:
Workshops with stakeholders, or those who work with the customer
I would warn marketers though: Workshopping for personas or audience groupings with internal stakeholders can be dangerous, because everyone in the room will bring their assumptions about the audience, and this may or may not be based on facts or reality. It’s important to get the data first and then use workshops to “colour in” the data – specific anecdotes or experiences shared in a workshop can do this nicely.
From here, we can form personas or audience groups, and from there we can map their experiences and plan messaging and content for them.
What should marketers running a CX workshop aim to achieve?
It really depends on your workshop objective – which is something that should be set out and agreed upon at the start of the workshop.
Generally, marketers should be aiming for a range of insights and as much participation from all attendees as possible.
What are your top three tips for organising a successful CX workshop?
Preparation: Understanding exactly how the workshop will run is key. For example, how long will each part take, how you will set up the room when you’ll have breaks. Logistics are very important in running a successful workshop.
Variety: I like to make my workshops interactive with different activities, different groupings of people, different ways of gathering info and brainstorming – it gets people out of autopilot which is helpful to get the more helpful insights and ideas flowing.
Supplies: Having the right supplies makes all the difference – you need enough of the right colour Post-its, for example, and enough pens for everyone, and the right pre-made charts, tables, timelines etc. so you can easily capture the information you’re after.
What are your top three tips for sorting the data from a workshop so it can be useful?
Colour coding: I am a big fan of colour coding Post-its to ensure the right insights and ideas end up in the right place.
Digitise: I start by taking photos of all the work up on the walls, and then use the photos to digitise and synthesise the work into usable insights, maps, charts and more.
Design: You can’t overstate the importance of design on something like a customer experience map. A well-designed layout means insights can be shared around and marketers can turn back to the map again and again to pull insights and ideas out of it.
What should brands do if they can’t workshop in person?
There are a lot of online whiteboarding and workshopping tools available that suit a wide range of customer experience workshop formats. The prep for remote, online workshops is largely the same as doing in-person ones, in terms of planning the flow and how you will collect the information you need.
Naturally, for online workshops, you need to give extra consideration to things like making sure technology is accessible and functioning properly! I also take care to ensure there are lots of opportunities for every participant to engage – it’s easy to be a bystander when you’re on video chat.
Customer data is of primary importance for advertising or marketing activity. Good quality data is the starting point for any successful campaign or marketing operation and can be the difference between world-class content and customer experience, and those that fall flat.
“Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.” – Dan Zarella
To get to know your audience and understand your consumer’s behaviour, it’s important to capture, store and analyse quantitative and qualitative data across varied sources.
As newer technologies keep evolving, the data capturing and analysing capabilities also keep improving. Businesses have an increasing ability to draw insights and make informed decisions about their customers.
The three pillars of customer data collection
So, what’s the best way to collect data? Before delving into data collection methods, let’s understand the three basic pillars of data collection methodologies.
3. Declared data
helps you understand how customers act across different channels and interaction points. It gives a holistic understanding of the reason for user actions and gives you insights into what your customers are interested in.
Any interaction a user has with your brand over any touchpoint, whether that is opening an email, watching a video or getting in touch with your call centre.
Opening an email from your brand is a type of behavioural data that you can track. Tech-based or device-related data is collected from an app, local storage, ad tag, cookie or IP address. This data helps to understand the profile of an individual, device or an application.
The most commonly used device-related data includes data collected from web browsers (like cookies), operating systems, devices or device types, languages or a user’s geolocation.
What story do your customer’s web cookies tell?
Declared data is usually gathered on a website or an app when a user subscribes to newsletters or fills out registration forms or questionnaires, or makes a purchase. If a user visits an ecommerce website linking her/his social media platform, the declared data can be linked to their devices.
Example: Declared data is the easiest for a user to see – they may enter their email address to sign up to a newsletter, or give their date of birth as part of a competition. Progressive profiling is also a form of declared data, in which you ask a user for more personal information over time.
Sometimes the best data is that the customer provides freely themselves via forms.
Customer data collection methods
Now let’s deep dive into each of the methods a brand can use to collect data.
Website data is collected from owned web properties. This could be someone visiting nytimes.com to read the daily news or visit their favorite blogs for cooking recipes. Web collection data allows brands to attain valuable information about users such as interest, intent, and characteristics.
As users browse these websites, they also leave a trace of content and behavioural signals which can be used.
There are many ways in which these data signals can be collected from a website:
On-site search keyword (eg: Finding your preferred product/service on a website)
User ID (in a hashed format)
Interest or Intent-based: Any user data can be traced based on the interest, behaviour or characteristic and can be used as a data signal.
If you are planning to buy a new pair of headphones and visit amazon.com, data can be collected based on the product category, product viewed, products added to shopping cart, shopping cart (drop off).
Ecommerce websites might also collect additional data signals as mentioned above.
Behaviour during an e-commerce transaction provides valuable data.
When collecting data on mobile, you are largely collecting technical/device data, but of course the use of mobile devices also contribute to the majority of behavioral and declared data. Mobile data includes behavioral data such as app IDs, sessions, time of day (the app was used), and geolocation. Declared data such as forms, preferences and purchases can also be recorded.
However, new solutions such as ITP – Intelligent Tracking Prevention for Safari/iOS browsers – restricts the data collection of first party and third party cookies.
3. Ad Campaigns
Campaigns using advertising technology and marketing technology are the most common ways brands can collect data from their target audience. Key performance indicators such as impressions, clicks and conversions are recorded. Other important parameters such as session duration, interaction rate, video views (for video campaigns), and viewability are ways to track campaign level data and understand the audience behaviour. Of course, campaigns can also be used to collect declared data.
4. Email Marketing
Email marketing is at the core of personalised marketing. A user can receive an email newsletter after signing up, get offers and also get to know more about a brand’s product/service offerings.
At the same time, the brand can get to know more about the user. Email data includes subscription status, engagement behavior (email open rate, click-through rate, etc.), or conversion behaviour. It can also show behavioural data, like which parts of an email were clicked.
5. Analytics Tools
The purpose of an analytics tool is to track the performance of a webpage and get details about user behavior. The most popular web analytics tools are Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics to track on-site measures such as page, session duration, and number of pages visited. Data collection occurs at a more granular level to get a deeper understanding of user profiles.
Customer Relationship Management tools are used by organisations to store vital customer information on an individual level. When a product or a service is purchased online or offline, users tend to share personally identifiable information (PII) such as name, address, phone number, purchase history.
The person’s name, address and ID numbers are PII data. Data containing PII can be used for digital advertising, however it must always be anonymised, or “hashed” so that it cannot be tied back to a specific person.
The Future of Customer Data
With the rise of newer and more evolved technologies, there will be more and more new touchpoints to understand people’s data.
It is also important to note privacy. GDPR has been implemented since May 2018 and brings about changes in the way data can be collected from individuals. Essentially, it is a regulation on PII data from a collection and security standpoint. It is mandatory to adhere to a country’s privacy and regulation policies.
With newer and evolving data collection technologies such as over-the-top (OTT) through TV streaming, it will be interesting how brands and consumers adapt to the changes.
In this new business environment, the ability to extract as much value as possible from every platform, data set and process within a brands’ ecosystem becomes paramount – while adhering to the latest security and data safety measures.
Marketing automation is key to accessing the next level of customer experience – personalisation. But automation involves a number of moving parts, each of which may seem complex at first.
So where should a beginner start? Here are the krunch.co Martech team’s thoughts…
1. View automation as the beginning of a relationship
Automation, particularly email and social automation, is the beginning of a relationship. When a customer hands over permission to contact them, they are volunteering to stay connected with a brand – they want a relationship.
Automation, particularly email and social automation, is the beginning of a relationship.
As with any relationship, the customer relationship must be nurtured and looked after. It’s the marketer’s job to respect the customer’s information and use it to continually better the brand’s service to them.
To that end, marketers can use what they already know about their new customer – for example, name, location, contact details – to engage with them using relevant and personalised content. The more time you have with the customer – to build trust, learn more information (i.e. birthday, purchase history) and more – the more you can tailor the relationship to that person’s needs.
Don’t forget that today’s customers expect the brands they deal with to know them and to use that knowledge to ensure that communications are relevant and timely. Sometimes the best way to stay true to this is by putting email metrics and goals aside, and remember the relationship element at the centre of it all.
2. Don’t get distracted by technology – build a solid core first
To truly succeed at marketing automation, you need a solid foundation.
There are lots of tools out there that can help organisations automate their marketing communications and it’s easy to get distracted. But better technology does not necessarily equate a better customer experience, especially if it’s built on a flimsy foundation.
There are some core building blocks that every organisation must consider first that will help make their marketing automation journey a success:
Organisational strategy – What is the company’s vision and mission statement? How does marketing align to these objectives?
Marketing strategy, people and processes – Who is involved, who is in charge, and who answers to whom? Are your people aligned to the company’s mission? Do your processes enable people to do their jobs effectively, or are there barriers to success?
Customer strategy – What are your customer expectations? How do they interact with your brand? What is the typical customer journey and what are they thinking and feeling at each point? What are the key communication points along the way? What channels are your customers using to interact with your brand?
Data – What information do you have about your customers or prospective customers? Where and how is this data stored? Does your database need a spring clean to tidy it up and get it organised? Are there any key data points missing and what could you do to fill these gaps? How will you capture and safely store customer preferences and permissions?
Technology – Based on your marketing and customer strategy, what tools are out there that could help you deliver on your identified objectives? Think about the short term but also about the longer term, and how you envisage your needs changing over time. Start small and simple and then grow your capability over time as you learn what works.
Measurement – Any organisation that invests time and money in marketing automation should be able to measure its impact and prove ROI. Ensure you build reporting and measurement into your requirements. This will also help you optimise over time so that you can get the most out of your marketing investment.
3. Let data take the wheel
Marketing automation can drive itself – if you set it up for success.Marketing automation enables organisations to move away from large-scale tactical product/campaign driven communications to targeted communications that are driven by data and insights.These communications can be left “always-on” and run with little to no manual intervention, going out to even small numbers of customers who meet the criteria at a particular time (i.e. they first sign up, or it’s their birthday). Over time, organisations should build up a library of communications that cover all key phases of a customer’s lifecycle with the brand, helping to build and nurture the brand/customer relationship over time – and provide a highly personalised experience.However, as with any use of data, good hygiene is imperative to maintain optimal functionality. Information on any particular customer should be stored in a central database that is accessible by all relevant systems throughout the business so that applications can talk to each other and the data. This way, important information is not siloed in disparate locations where it is of little use to the marketing team.
Data analytics is more than just a collection of graphs on a computer. By utilising the extraordinary power of big data, analytics platforms are able to turn actions into insights, helping businesses cut costs, increase efficiencies and improve the power of their digital marketing campaigns.
But what are the elements of a good analytics dashboard, and what should marketers consider when designing one?
A good dashboard tells you more than just the basics.
A good dashboard isn’t just a dashboard
Success for a marketing intelligence dashboard comes from the insights it uncovers, but getting to that point takes some work. When I’m talking with clients about their data, first we start with getting clear on what they are solving for – why have they turned to digital marketing? What problem are they trying to solve?
It’s easy to get distracted in analytics by answering just one or two simple questions, like what channels generate the most leads. But that’s only one problem out of what is likely to be many. A good dashboard must be able to answer a variety of questions that dig deep into the results and support the business’ overall objectives. Starting at those business basics – what do we do, and why – can help you get to that point.
A good dashboard is able to answer a variety of questions that dig deep into the results and support the business’ overall objectives.
To put it in context: Say an organisation turns to marketing to increase the value of existing customers and attract new ones. Already, knowing this is our objective lets us start to build a dash that supports those outcomes. Then, we can drill down into channels, then into campaigns or any other layer we need to view. We’re not just thinking about surface-level problems, we’re going deeper and looking for insights that support our purpose.
How to choose from all the various BI solutions
Business intelligence (BI) is a multi-billion dollar industry, with lots of players on the market. So how do you choose between them?
The major players – SAS, Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, Datorama, Google Data Studio, Domo, and so on – may appear to perform similar functions at face value, so comparing feature for feature can be tricky. What’s often more important for digital marketers, especially those new to BI, is finding a platform that works specifically for their needs.
Marketers should look for a platform that is designed to visualise the data that they most rely upon. A tool that is pre-built for marketing data, such as from Facebook or Google Ads, will likely be far easier to use than a more agnostic BI system, which may require extensive setup to bring it into the marketing context.
Some questions to ask:
How quickly can you access the data most useful to you?
How easy is it to plug in the marketing tools you use?
How simple is the process of visualising the insights from these tools and, more importantly, compare them against each other (see below for more on this)?
Common dashboarding challenges, and how to overcome them
Meaningful insights don’t come easy; unfortunately, data doesn’t always magically fall into place, even with the best BI platform. That creates a few key challenges that must (and can!) be overcome early on in the setup process if marketers are to get the most out of their dashboard.
Data that doesn’t work together
Data has to work together to maximise its effectiveness.
Different tools gather data differently, often using a different language. This can make comparing their insights tricky, as it may not be clear which insights from one platform relate to or impact the insights from another.
Data harmonisation. Harmonising data is about translating each of the different ‘languages’ I mentioned into a single view. While different tools talk differently, the reality is at some point they are going to mean the same thing – impressions, clicks, conversions, leads generated and so on. By taking the time to sync up platforms by identifying these overlapping areas, we can bring together data from all our tools into a dashboard that is quick and easy to use.
Example: Using similar naming conventions across platforms is one way to help harmonise different advertising tools. For instance, naming each and every campaign with the same template (objective – audience group – advertising medium – creative name) lets you quickly compare how different platforms stack up against each other. With this template, you would be able to filter by objectives, audience groups, advertising mediums (e.g. video ads, search ads) and the creative used in each campaign and collect this information into a unified view, where you can determine, say, which mediums are the most cost effective for a particular audience.
2. Data that sits in different silos
Keeping data in disparate silos can reduce the effectiveness of BI.
Merging data from disparate silos has to be one of the most common challenges of marketing analytics. If Facebook sits in this database but Google Ads sits over here, email results are over there, and none of it talks to the sales data, all of this extraordinary information can’t really be used. Not effectively, anyway.
Marketers must collect all of their data across systems into a single database – a central truth. This is where choosing the right BI platforms comes in again, as the right tool will be able to plug into all of these different silos and collect the required information to be analysed and produced as a visualised report.
3. Insights you can’t trust
If you can’t trust your insights, you can’t use them effectively.
Data accuracy is vital to acting on insights, but there’s a common theme among marketers that they feel like they can’t trust their reports. There are so many technical variables involved in establishing a good dashboard, it may seem like the numbers simply aren’t true – especially if they are quite different to expectations.
A simple solution here is to audit the dashboard to ensure it has been set up correctly. This can be done quickly by comparing the metrics that appear on the dash with the metrics that appear when viewed in their native platform (i.e. Facebook). If they match, then the dashboard passes the accuracy test. If not, something may not have been plugged in properly and requires a second look.
Education plays a crucial role here, too; given some of the biggest sources of marketing data apply their own, different attribution algorithms, it can be hard to compare oranges to oranges. As such, I lean towards trusting empirical sources of data such as from e-commerce or CRM. If these data sources aren’t available to you, you might expect to look for trends from the reporting rather than absolute numbers.
Harmonising data will also help here, as the process of setting up and utilising techniques such as naming conventions can control the data that makes its way to the dashboard, and therefore improve its usefulness.
4. A lack of actionable insights
An insight that doesn’t lead to action is not an effective insight.
Setting up a dashboard is one thing – reading it is another. Even with simple visualisations and easy filtering, analysing data is not always easy. After all, an entire industry has been built around this skillset, and not everyone is going to be qualified. This investigative complexity can at times make generating actionable insights beyond that surface level we talked about earlier a little intimidating.
Here we come again to finding a solution designed around your digital marketing. A platform built with marketers in mind will make it as simple as possible to generate deep insights about the tools and processes relied upon by their teams.Even better, look for a platform that actively helps find these insights, either through support teams, auto-generated tips and tricks, or even better, an AI helper. For example, Salesforce’s Einstein AI can be used within Datorama to parse through old campaigns and use cases of high- and low-performing metrics to find ways to optimise future activities. This can be done at the click of a few buttons, as the bot has been set up to make its use easy even for newer users.
Bringing it all together
You get out what you put into data analytics. By taking the time to align your dashboard to core marketing objectives, collecting and harmonising disparate data sources, and then auditing the platform to ensure accuracy, you can start to dig through the information and produce real, actionable insights.
It’s well-known now that the difference between a successful marketing campaign that can be scaled and personalised and a marketing campaign that can’t keep up with its competitors is automation.
Automation unlocks the next phase of marketing but … what should you even do with automation? What does it actually look like, in real-world terms?
Let’s talk about some examples of campaigns I’ve seen that have been highly effective, and a few tricks to ensure your marketing strategies succeed.
3 examples of marketing automation campaigns
1. Welcome journeys
Welcome journeys are a powerful educational tool.
When customers first join you, a welcome journey educates them about your brand, and shows the different services and products that you offer that they might not be aware of. It’s also an opportunity to capture additional personal information over a series of touchpoints, so you aren’t asking for too much all at once. A welcome journey not only provides a good brand experience, but can ensure you are making your campaign work by capturing that extra data that you might need to further personalise the experience.
What do we mean by personal information?
Date of birth
Demographic or segment
Any other relevant information
What might a welcome journey look like?
Email #1 welcomes the new customer to your brand after they sign up, purchase their first product, etc. This email can also offer very basic information or instructions, for example, tips on how to set up their account.
Email #2 comes a number of days later, and adds a new layer of information. Perhaps there is a service you want the customer to know about, or a feature of their product they might not have heard of (i.e. warranty information, how to get repairs). You could offer a guide of some sort that they can freely download, which you also advertise to them on social media through paid promotions.
Email #3 could offer a reminder that they have not yet set up their account, or else add a third layer of information – what to do with their new product, maintenance tips they can do at home, perhaps upcoming events they could be interested in. Again, SMS and social media can be used in conjunction to ensure the message reaches their eyes.
Even after a customer abandons their cart, there’s still an opportunity to sell.
Let’s say your customer browses your store, adds a product to their cart, but does not make the purchase. You can add them to an abandoned cart series that uses this event as an opportunity to communicate and urge a conversion.
What might an abandoned cart journey look like?
Email #1 contains an image of the product they were looking at and a reminder that it remains in their cart.
Assuming the customer still does not make the purchase, email #2 is a chance for you to offer some alternate suggested products based on the user’s personal preferences, perhaps with a discount thrown in that is just for them (to make them feel unique, special). Social media could also advertise these products.
Who doesn’t love it when someone remembers their birthday?
This is a very simple campaign but it can be highly effective. If you know your customer’s date of birth, you can set up a special personalised birthday message to be sent out at the right time of year, offering some kind of special promotion. Perhaps they receive a voucher on their special day, or a discount, or temporary access to a new tier of membership. You can support the message with SMS and social media.
In any case, the customer will feel a little like you know them personally, you remembered, and this can help build loyalty – not to mention increase the chance of a conversion as they cash in their deal.
4 tips to help you find marketing automation success
1. Learn what works for you
Knowing what makes your needs unique will help you find the right journeys.
I’ve talked about a few common automation journeys, but it’s important to note that they won’t work for every organisation. There are many factors that determine whether a particular type of marketing journey is right for a business, from their business and marketing goals to the quality of their data, their customers, the type of segmentation they have in their CRM, and so on. My recommendation would be that, instead of focusing on a specific journey for the sake of it, always make sure that any campaign you run fits within your wider strategy, marketing funnel and unique customer lifecycle.
2. Avoid assumptions
Having good data helps you piece together the marketing puzzle.
In marketing automation, and digital marketing as a whole, a key thing to avoid is making assumptions. Of course, if you have very little evidence to work with then you will have to start with some small assumptions, but over time it’s vital that you move away from this model and start using data to guide your actions.The great thing about marketing automation, of course, is that it provides that data. When you first set up all of your tools, focusing on getting your customer intelligence to flow into a central database where you can filter and search for results will allow you to test new campaign ideas and always proceed with those that are most effective, based on real evidence.
You can build up to complex – start with something simple.
This is especially important for anyone just starting with marketing automation. You can come up with a monster of a campaign and plan highly complex, targeted activities – and this is a great goal – but if you don’t have the data to back those journeys up, most likely the monster will not provide great results.So start simple. Start with something you know you can manage, then grow and optimise over time. This will give you the time and energy to test different experiments against each other, and ensure that you see the metrics you need.
4. Make sure you have the resources in place
Building the right resources will enable you to unlock each step of marketing automation.
Marketing automation requires resources. The technology comes at a cost, but it also requires time, energy and skill. It’s an investment. Some companies build these resources over time, purchasing new technology subscriptions and hiring the right people, while others turn to agencies and other partners to benefit from the resources they don’t have in-house.One thing to remember: Marketing automation isn’t just an email sender platform. It’s much more. You can use automation to organise data, segment your customer base, build landing pages, forms, emails, and it can be integrated into social media and other platforms in order to run multi-channel campaigns. It then automates many of the time-consuming, menial tasks that would otherwise take a human hours so you can focus on value-adding activities while it runs in the background.Starting simple works here too. You can build up over time as you learn what tools work best for you and acquire the skills your organisation needs.
It’s an all-too-common sight: a marketing “team” made up of disparate people silos working on their own, quietly doing their part of the wider project before passing it on to someone else, often with minimal communication.
This happens everywhere, especially in larger enterprises with lots of people and big, multi-faceted projects. But this can quickly become a problem – and here’s why.
The problem with siloed marketing people
People can work in silos even when they’re on the same ‘team’.
It might feel like when marketing people work in their own teams, focusing on their particular tools and disciplines and really honing what they do, that it can only make the wider marketing department stronger. After all, people are perfecting their craft. While this is true, if those highly honed teams don’t know how to come together, it’s going to cost the company a lot of time and money.In larger corporate environments, the go-to-market process is already so long and complicated that the traditional Waterfall approach to getting marketing comms out the door just doesn’t work so well anymore. Once, it used to be OK for someone to come up with an idea for a marketing campaign, brief the comms team, work on ideas, and get it going. But now there’s so many more pieces of the puzzle – adtech, data scientists, AI and automation, personalisation and CX, app developers, you name it.
What typically happens is that people spend ages in their bubble working on a great idea, then pass it on to the next team and it falls over. “We don’t have the data we need,” they might say. “There’s not enough customers to make it worth doing.” All the time invested up until that point is wasted, and every minute spent investigating workarounds to keep it going costs money.
Replacing Waterfall with Agile
I’m not necessarily advocating for a complete switch to Agile methodologies, but marketing teams need to make sure that their disparate teams move from this traditional conveyor belt Waterfall approach to a more team-based agile (with a lowercase A) approach in order to remain cost effective in a modern era.
What works better these days is that when a brief comes in, people from across teams sit down and discuss it together. They look at it from a customer perspective, a creative perspective, a data perspective. Then all of the different teams have a vested interest in the project and have voiced any important concerns before any major work has started.
Essentially what you’re doing is creating a little satellite team or squad of people from across your department for each project, with all key stakeholders having a voice. While they may return to their individual pods to actually do the work, they return to this satellite at regular intervals (“stand-ups”, if we’re using Agile terminology) to keep track of the wider scope and stay in close communication.
The outcome? Projects move faster, and turn out better.
Tips and tools to help you bring people together
Simple tools can vastly improve cross-team collaboration.
1. Kanban boards and other workflow tools
You don’t have to make a complete switch to Agile to pick out some of the key features. One great element I like is building a physical board, clearly displayed for all to see, which tracks the progress of each relevant project. You can also host stand-ups around this board to keep those meetings short and to the point.
The board would be split into columns for, say, different teams or project stages, with Post-it notes used to move a project from stage to stage. If you want to look these up, they’re called Kanban boards.
For the digital-savvy team, there are many digital versions of the same thing. At krunch, we’ve been using Trello.
2. Empower your teams
Create an area or meeting room where people can go and work together, and ensure that they have the power to make certain decisions independently. This can give people a real sense of purpose, and enable them to churn through certain tasks a lot more efficiently than if they had to seek approval for every little decision.
Give people the freedom to prioritise, to make judgement calls and use initiative. Your regular stand-ups and digital collaboration tools will help provide a set of guard rails so nobody goes off-track.
3. Build better collaboration
In today’s digital age of remote working and cloud-based services, digital collaboration tools have grown increasingly advanced and can be a real asset to bringing people together.
Slack, Trello, Monday.com, PageProof – these tools are easy to use and help people instantly connect with each other about where certain tasks are in the pipeline, as well as to seek approval and feedback on their part of the task.
4. Don’t forget the rest of the business
Now that you’re bringing your disparate marketing teams together, it’s also a good idea to loop in 0ther key stakeholders across the business – for example, legal and compliance teams, or sales.
These additional stakeholders may hold valuable information, or stand as an immovable gateway that your project has to get past before it can be released. Bringing these voices into the room earlier in your process and keeping them up to date using all the tools and tricks I’ve written about today helps achieve the same things we’ve already talked about – improved speed and better work.
Marketing tools for generating business insights are a dime a dozen, but some of them are a little too … well let’s just say they’re needlessly complex and leave it at that.
So what if there was a tool that a marketer could use to whip up valuable, usable business intelligence in less than an afternoon?
That’s where the business model canvas comes in.
What is a business model canvas?
Imagine a single sheet of paper that describes, in short, all of the most important aspects of your business – every detail you could hope to learn at a glance that would help you understand your product, who it’s for, and how to sell it.
That’s what a business model canvas is for.
First developed by Strategyzer co-founder Alex Osterwalder, the business model canvas is a nine-step exercise to help you communicate, on one page, a simple story of your business model. It covers:
1. It gives you everything you need to advertise effectively
This nine-block canvas covers all of the critical details a marketer would need to know about their brand and how to use it. If you can articulate the information that goes in each block, you can articulate the who, what, where, when, why and how of your business.
Strategy, user personas, customer journey maps, advertising, copywriting – every single marketing activity can be improved with this knowledge.
2. It helps you analyse your value proposition
Is your brand actually providing the value you think it is? Or are you targeting the wrong people with the wrong message?
Good marketing is empathetic, getting the right message in the right place at the right time. But it can be hard to know if you’re hitting all those points if you’re too close to the product.
Going through the business model canvas exercise forces you to, essentially, perform a SWOT analysis on your value proposition. Where are your strengths and opportunities? Equally, where are your weak points and potential threats? It will help you take a step back and sense-check your own work.
3. It’s actually quite quick
Writing out a full business model document can take days, if not weeks or months. But marketers don’t need an 80-page document on every little detail about the business if they can gain this information much faster, on one page.
Some people find they can whip up a quick business model canvas in as little as 15 to 30 minutes on a whiteboard. Theoretically, any marketer and their team could plot out a detailed canvas in a one to two-hour workshop and gain an immediate better understanding of the brand.
Key tips on getting the most out of a canvas
1. Make it a team exercise
Someone with sufficient knowledge of the business could create a business model canvas by themselves, but this may not produce the best end-result.
Bringing a collection of people to a workshop can help you collect a variety of thoughts and ideas, hunt for hidden opportunities, and debate the finer points until you’re happy. Plus, it ensures that a wider selection of people have a more detailed knowledge of the brand – so it doubles as a little training session!
2. Focus on the now – not the tomorrow
This exercise works best, and quickest, when it focuses on the here and now. That is, where your brand is today, what it’s doing, who it’s serving.
If you get bogged down thinking about what you want to become tomorrow, the exercise can quickly bloat and defeat the point in doing it at all. Set aside a separate time slot to focus on future goals and ideas, so you can dedicate your full attention to both exercises.
3. When finished, step beck and check everything lines up
It’s critical for a successful canvas that your customer segments are linked to value propositions and revenue streams. You should be able to clearly follow a customer segment through their relationship with your business to a value proposition that would interest them, which itself then leads to a clearly articulated revenue stream.
If there is any disconnect in this journey, your marketing activities may not lead to actual revenue for the business.
Marketing can sometimes seem like an intangible thing with no real direct link to provable ROI. What is the connection between liking a post on Facebook, seeing a billboard on the street, reading an article on the blog, and a return for the business?
From the desk of the CFO this month, we discuss the dangerous allure of vanity metrics, how to join the dots in marketing, and how to present results to the board.
Try not to get sucked in by vanity metrics
Too often marketers become intoxicated by the lure of vanity metrics – social media likes and follows being a prime suspect. But, these can be a distraction from real results.
What is a vanity metric? Vanity metrics make you feel good, and make your campaigns look like they’re performing well. But, they may not actually tell you if the business is getting a return for its investment. Often they are not actionable, meaning you can’t derive any real business insight from them. They’re basically for show.
That said, vanity metrics aren’t worthless. You must use them correctly for them to become actionable results, not just vanity metrics for vanity’s sake. They’re part of a wider whole – and that whole must lead back to ROI.
So how do you turn intangible marketing results into ROI?
In order to better understand marketing activities and their impact on the wider business, you must be able to connect all of your activities together into a single picture – a customer journey.
By plotting out the customer journey (or journeys, as the case may be), you can see how higher-level activities nurture customers through to lower-level activities, which then drive results (i.e. sales). For example, people don’t typically buy a product after learning about a business for the first time, but seeing an intriguing ad can encourage them to research further and, as a result, hit more touch points on their journey which eventually leads to a purchase.
Use customer journey maps to plot out marketing activities, plan more detailed top-to-bottom-funnel strategies, and hunt for inefficiencies, blockages and bottlenecks preventing customers from progressing.
Measuring the customer journey with real data
To turn that correlation into causation one needs usable data – and this is where people-based measurement comes in.
While the customer journey may include a variety of touchpoints, not all of which are digital, it’s still possible to track a person across a wide cross-section of the marketing experience. And the more you learn about a person and their journey, the more you will be able to connect intangible activities to tangible ROI.
People-based measurement allows organisations to measure results constantly, often in real time. It creates a broad omnichannel view with data being collected into a central analytics dashboard, removing silos and enabling analysts to cross-reference one platform’s results with another. Persistent user IDs then enable those analysts to track someone across the touchpoints covered by this dashboard, which often yields fascinating insight into how customers use certain services (i.e. an app, or website).
This also allows for greater personalisation. While that may not be related to our topic today, it’s important to note that it’s a fabulous side benefit – more knowledge of a user’s individual journey allows greater personalising of their future experiences, whether that’s on the blog, in their email inbox or on a sales call.
Presenting non-tangible marketing as ROI to the board
The final stage is presenting these results to key stakeholders, such as senior leaders and the board.
Were you to just present a graph showing Facebook likes going up, and a general interpretation of a brand awareness campaign as having ‘gone well’, this may not generate the excitement you’re hoping for.
But, with customer journey maps and people-based measurement you’re able to connect those links together and show, in detail, how one activity impacts another. This should help you present a better report to the people that need to see it.
A note to remember: Take the marketing jargon out of the presentation unless you’re talking to other marketers. Board members tend to be exceedingly well versed in business and financials, but possibly less so digital marketing technology. That’s your job, not theirs. Consider what information each person you’re presenting to will actually care about – as you would any marketing audience. Focus on business problems, customer figures and financial data, and this will likely help get your point across.
According to krunch.co/PureProfile research for Q1 2022, nearly half (49%) of New Zealand marketers are concerned about scaling CX in their organisations, and only a handful of their processes are automated so far – less than 20%, to be exact.
Additionally, while 94% believe CX is an important driver of results, budgets remain very low. Indeed, most marketers are working with a CX budget of less than 10%.
From the numbers we’re seeing it looks like marketers want to do more with CX, but might not be able to get the funding – or may be nervous to shift too much budget to an activity they’ve yet to prove.
So how do you get started with CX on a limited budget?
Mastering CX on a budget
10 tips to help you get started with CX without a significant investment in time or money.
Customer lifecycles first, personalisation second
It’s common to consider personas and dynamic content personalisation when planning for CX development. They work, they’re valuable, they’re modern.
But, while they do provide valuable input, they can be time-consuming and expensive. For someone just testing the waters, consider starting elsewhere.
The fastest way to deliver ROI with CX on a budget is to fill in the gaps where the customer experience is lacking. Map out your customer lifecycles, from brand awareness through to retention, so you can identify and prioritise areas of the journey that you’ve missed so far.
Once you’ve filled in all the blanks and stopped customers dropping out of the holes, you can look to invest in things such as user personas and, later, content personalisation.
Making use of what you’ve got
It’s easy to look to new technology as a solution for all things. However, many entry-level and inexpensive platforms have invested heavily in developing features over the years, so you may be surprised at what you can do with what you already have.
Deep dive into your current Martech stack and determine what is feasible within your current capabilities before investing in months of costly upgrades.
Additionally, leverage the data that you already have within those platforms. Practise good data hygiene to take it out of its silos as much as possible and clean it up so that it can be utilised. If your strategy requires new data to be integrated with a technology platform, consider daily .csv imports at first rather than a more costly API development.
Start small, and grow from there
An 80% ‘working’ product is more than no product at all. Trying to do too many things at once may mean your new CX strategy takes months to get up and running, all the while draining money from the budget without producing a return.
Rather than embark on the Rolls Royce of welcome journeys, agree on what the minimum valuable product would look like that you can implement in six weeks, not six months. Limit channels to the ones where you will be most effective, and take the opportunity in these early days to build new processes, train up your team, and get tangible ROI before moving to each new phase.
Once your new journey is live, you’ll be in a good position to analyse the results and identify opportunities to improve on your work. Rinse and repeat across the board and you will be maximising CX and growing your capabilities, all without blowing the budget.
It seems everyone in marketing these days is talking about ‘omnichannel’. But is this just some other buzzword, or a new industry phase that you really do need to pay attention to?
What is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel marketing is, basically, the modern way of doing things in marketing. With omnichannel literally meaning ‘all channels being orchestrated into a single approach’, it’s a strategy that recognises customers are no longer browsing and making buying decisions through just one channel – or even one device.
Indeed, 73% of customers say they use more than one channel when making buying decisions, including both physical media and the internet. They also tend to spend more than single-channel buyers, and that number goes up the more channels they use.
So, omnichannel marketing is … a fancy word for multichannel marketing?
No, although they’re both strategies for finding an audience across channels. Omnichannel is a lot more than just marketing over multiple channels (which is all multichannel marketing can say for itself) – omnichannel is about creating an omnichannel experience. That is, the customer has a consistent experience no matter where they browse, and this experience follows them as they move from device to device, or platform to platform.
Omnichannel marketing is empathetic marketing. It encourages marketers to put people at the heart of everything they do, mapping out and understanding the customer journey, and identifying all the potential touchpoints along the way. It helps them to empathise with the different ways their various users will want to connect with their brand, and understand how to get their message to people in a way that is convenient. Here, a marketer isn’t trying to yell and wave and steal someone’s attention, but to blend into it wherever it may already be.
What does a real omnichannel approach look like?
Meet Jane. She’s just about ready to buy a new home and will soon need a home loan.
Every morning she takes the bus to work listening to podcasts on Spotify. It’s her morning ritual, and she loves it. One day, as she’s heading into the office, she hears an ad on Spotify about home loans. It piques her interest, but she isn’t ready to research right now. Helping reinforce the idea, though, is that she sees a billboard for the same product as the bus pulls into town. The billboard refers to a tool she can use on her phone, which she notes to remember for later.
Later, on her lunch break, she’s browsing the news and sees an article about the new home buyer’s property market, with some tips on how to get approved for a home loan. The tips are well-written and helpful; while a brand wrote them, they weren’t trying to sell their services but rather to be genuine and useful. Jane is also exposed to a display ad while on this news site, reminding her of the brand she’d seen earlier.
Over the following months Jane uses the tips she learned to improve her chances of getting approved for a loan, and eventually logs onto the home loan tool she saw advertised. After giving her email address to the company, it’s able to talk to her a little more personally – ensuring their emails know her name, and that they serve her content relevant to her stage of their buyer’s journey.
It’s an entire, empathetic experience from one brand across multiple touchpoints.
Real advertising touchpoints along Jane’s journey
Audio: She heard a Spotify ad, but it could have been Acast or AdWave.
Out of Home: The billboard may have been JCDeceux, Ooh!, or VMO.
Native: Her native article could have been on NZ Herald, Stuff, Yahoo!.
Display: Display advertising served her in the same places.
Email: Jane received personalised emails from Pardot, which could have been Hubspot or Marketo too.
What does it take to get started with omnichannel marketing?
1. You must be audience-first
In modern marketing, the customer comes first. Instead of deciding which ad platforms you want to use and working backwards to find an audience from there, you must start with the customer and work forwards.
If you can’t clearly articulate who your customer segments are, what they enjoy, where they consume content, what their needs/wants/challenges are, or any number of other key details, you will struggle to fit into their daily lives in an empathetic manner. So, the first step is to create good user personas.
2. You’re going to need data
As you grow from a single channel to many, you must be able to draw each of those channels into a single source of truth so that you don’t run the risk of siloing your data. Siloed data can leave you unable to determine if one variable affects another, not to mention the fact that it requires you to check results on multiple platforms instead of a single dashboard. It’s slow, clunky, and won’t scale smoothly.
Tools like Global Web Index and Campaign Manager 360 can help here.
3. You’re going to need to map out your customer journeys
Jane had lots of potential touchpoints with the home loans brand. This brand was able to find all of these touchpoints by first mapping out the customer journey for their home loan product to determine where Jane might first meet them, and how they can be of assistance.
Her journey started potentially months before she ever logged on to the brand’s web tool – she needed to sort her finances well in advance. The home loan brand knew this, and began its omnichannel marketing experience early, so that it could guide Jane and help educate her on this very complex topic.
So, where do your customers first start entering your pipeline and what are all the potential touchpoints along the way? Host CX workshops, run surveys, talk to your salespeople, and compare this data to your user personas to determine the answer for your own business.
With these three things combined, you will understand the who, what and where of your audience, and be able to track your results over time. This will allow you to find the right tools to serve people in the right place, at the right time, with the right messaging.