What do we mean when we say “cross-channel orchestration?” On the surface, we’re referring to our ability to reach customers wherever they are, regardless of channel. This day and age, those options are endless. From online and offline to web and mobile to push and pull, there are umpteen ways to aid your customers throughout their journey. Going one level deeper, it also means that across these disparate channels, mediums, and interfaces, our core message is consistent with user expectations. It means that the customer’s experience is a holistic one, driven mainly by their needs and behaviors.
Cross-Channel Orchestration is so much more than just “integration.” It’s the grail of delivering rich, meaningful customer experiences. As we enter this new age of marketing, the holistic customer experience is paramount. We’ve reached a point in marketing where data is everywhere. Technologies and capabilities have evolved rapidly. Many marketers are still struggling to “catch up” and utilize their data in a way that not only enhances a customer’s experience, but also optimizes their path to purchase.
Like any other digital transformation, orchestrating cross-channel alignment and unity takes time, resources, and a strong roadmap for success. As you develop your blueprint, keep in mind these five keys to ensuring you are on the right path.
Holistic data integration
As technology advances, our ability to collect customer data grows exponentially. If you’re like many marketers, you have more data than you can handle. If you’re not yet collecting data about your customer’s profile, behaviors, preferences, and activities, you will in the near future. Compound the plethora of this information with the breadth of channels from which we gather it (mobile, display, web, commerce, etc.), and you may find yourself in a data sink hole.
Although our ability to capture data has expanded tremendously, our ability to utilize it has not. In many cases, our data is stuck in legacy systems and/or siloed across a number of platforms from data warehouses to CRMs to marketing technology tools that do not and, in some cases cannot, speak to each other. Unfortunately, this lack of data cohesion is the main barrier to harnessing customer information for cohesive cross-channel experiences.
In order to meet this lofty goal, we need to utilize the right technology so we can share, cleanse, and augment the data we collect. In order to offer messages and content that resonate with a customer throughout their experience, we need to integrate and stitch various types of data points from across our platforms (offline and online). Without that customer identity matching, we cannot provide deeply personalized and consistent messages throughout their path to purchase.
One of your first steps in analyzing your roadmap to holistic customer experiences, is auditing your data. Where does it live? How can you access it? Most importantly, how can you integrate it, make sense of it, and utilize it? These are not easy questions to answer, and they will likely require conversations across many departments, business units, and regions. However, understanding your data footprint is a key first step in getting closer to cross-channel orchestration.
Digital profile management
Behind the scenes of your data collection needs to live a strong ID stitching mechanism. A strong identity graph is critical to ensuring your match rate for customers across their different devices and platforms is high enough to provide benefit. Joe Stanhope from Forrester Research said it best, “Identity resolution is a key enabler for contextual marketing by connecting multiple sources of identity and customer information to support robust targeting, personalization, and addressability across touchpoints and devices.”
Although the fundamentals of identity resolution are beyond the scope of this article, it’s important to do your homework and understand the basics. There are many ID graphing options available, but you’ll need one that can access, integrate, and then synchronize your customer’s various digital profiles and channels. In order to provide that holistic view and experience to your client, your identity resolution needs to bring together 1st party data as well as 2nd and 3rd party data. It needs to combine cross-channel unique identities so you can fully utilize all of your information.
Triggered customer touchpoints
With connected data and deep informational insight comes the power to provide proactive and triggered communication to your customers based on their actual behaviors. Once you’re able to pull together a complete view of your customers, you’ll have the advantage of creating automated workflows to reach them when they need you. Have a customer that abandoned their cart? Is someone engaging with a product within your app that they viewed on your website? Is one of your prospects consuming content digitally at an increasing rate? All of these behaviors may show buying intent to which you need to respond.
With effective cross-channel technology and strategies, you have the power to respond to changing customer preferences and behaviors in real-time. In today’s society, consumers expect companies to meet them where they are and where they are going – not where they have been. It’s up to us as marketers to build a marketing and technology foundation that allows for 1:1 customer conversations that are personalized and able to be delivered both online and off.
Immersive customer experiences
Effective cross-channel marketing is a lot more than just connected data and triggered communication. None of that matters if you are not using it to drive immersive, personalized, and valuable customer experiences. With so much data and information at our fingertips, it can quickly become overwhelming. We need to take a step back and remember that the ultimate grail of any marketing technology or unified customer profile is to provide the absolute best customer experience to every individual. Technology aside, this comes down to a solid understanding of your consumers, from their needs, desires, and pain points to their overall purchase path (or lack thereof). How do we gain this understanding? Data! How do we ensure we communicate with them effectively? Technology and Strategy!
However, even with the best technology and data management in the world, your efforts will fall flat without a sound strategy and approach. Take the time to truly immerse yourself in your customer’s world. Know them intensely. Empathize with them. Surround yourself with the challenges and joys they experience each and every day. This is a great time to revisit your buyer personas and journey maps.
Your technology will give you the power to reach each of these customers when they need to be reached, but only your understanding of the audience, translated into messaging, approach, and content, will turn them into customers and, eventually, advocates.
Analytics and optimization
In order to create the optimal customer experience, you need the ability to track, measure and analyze customer interactions and behaviors along the path to purchase. This implies that you have the ability to connect consumers’ various actions across devices and platforms, both online and off. The right technologies will give you the ability to see, in real-time, how your customers are interacting with your content so you can interact and adjust in real-time. Like most things, with this power comes great responsibility. Most notably, the responsibility to continually monitor and test these customer interactions to see what has meaning and impact to the end-user. Are they following the intended path? Are they satisfied with their experience? Are they moving toward purchase? You need the ability to test, analyze, and optimize in real-time. Today’s customer moves too quickly to react after the fact.
As we move forward in this new decade, we continue to march toward truly connected experiences and immersive customer experiences. Our consumers expect no less. Those of us who do not adapt to ensure customers receive branded, personalized, and timely messages exactly when they need them will fall behind. As you develop your omni-channel efforts, remember the ultimate goal — holistic customer experiences driven by the customer and delivered by you. If you’re in the midst of developing your cross-channel marketing roadmap, or perhaps re-evaluating your technologies or strategy, contact us. At Relationship One, we are always here to help.