Omnichannel experiences are the norm for today's consumers who interact with companies across multiple channels and platforms throughout their relationship with a brand. To ensure a positive customer experience, it's critical that all touchpoints — both physical and digital — set and attain the highest standards. A crucial component of excellent consumer interactions is personalization. Omnichannel personalization builds deeper connections with customers and strengthens customer loyalty, which means more substantial revenue and profit margins for companies.
What Does Omnichannel Personalization Entail?
Successful omnichannel personalization uses the information you receive about a customer's interactions to customize the messaging, offers, and other details about your marketing communications to suit each individual. The more personalized an experience is for your audience, the more engaged they are likely to be with your brand. When consumers feel seen by brands and receive emails, social ads, etc., that genuinely interest them, they are more likely to buy from the company. If the customer service and post-purchase nurturing are equally good, they will likely remain a customer for a long time.
What your omnichannel personalization strategy looks like depends on a variety of factors and may differ between companies. Consider several questions to get started. How do consumers interact with your brand? What types of products are you selling? What kind of data do you capture, and how can you leverage it to add value at each interaction?
An Amazon Example
For example, take Amazon — they exemplify data-driven personalization in the ecommerce space. Let's say you purchased a new high-end blender last week. Since your purchase, Amazon has likely sent you an email about new kitchen products listed in the marketplace. Next comes an alert on the Amazon app that Prime Day promotions start today. You begin shopping on the app but switch to your laptop to browse while at work. On the site, Amazon suggests that you look at several products: a stainless steel thermos with a reusable straw, a fruit and veggie rinse and spin device, and vegan protein powders for smoothies. You click on the thermos that will enable you to take your smoothie on the go and keep it cold. As you scroll down, you see the site offers similar thermos options in different sizes and colors that you may also like. You put one in your cart, then head off to a staff meeting.
The next day, you search online to find where you will eat for lunch, and an ad pops up showing you one of the thermos options you were excited about on Amazon. You check your email to find a reminder about the item in your cart and a manufacturer promo code. Finally, you log into the app to complete the purchase and see suggestions for other products that shoppers typically purchase with this item. This is omnichannel personalization at its finest. It is often used to nudge shoppers toward a purchase, upsell, or nurture those who leave without completing the purchase.
In-person shoppers who prefer to enter a physical space to buy goods or services are often left behind in the race to personalize the experience. The companies that manage to bridge the experience between online and brick-and-mortar tend to stand out from the crowd. This is an exciting time for marketers and brands because there is a lot of room to innovate and grow. Omnichannel personalization is a playground for creative thinkers.
Why Do Companies Struggle to Personalize?
Many anticipate high costs and distant returns related to new technology, which can be intimidating. The technology companies use to tackle omnichannel personalization requires an upfront investment of money and time that many shy away from. Things like in-store kiosks, tablets for employees, analytics and marketing software, and web development expenses do add up. However, brands do not need to dive in all at once. The addition of new technologies and tools combined with thoughtful strategies will lead to incremental gains. As additional revenue rolls in, more investments can be made to continue growing and expanding. It's essential to prioritize items that will set the foundation for future investments or lead to the most immediate value.
Companies may be concerned about rocking the boat with drastic changes. New technology can sometimes imply drastic changes. While it's often said that people fear change, the deeper issue is that people fear the loss that change will bring, as noted in this Inc. Magazine article.
Though processes, roles, strategies, and technologies will evolve as companies tackle omnichannel personalization, there is a place for every team member in this new strategy. For example, teams focused on the in-store, and digital experiences may function separately at present. But the introduction of omnichannel personalization will change the siloed structure, ensuring that these teams work together to form an integrated strategy and experience. The better that leadership can communicate expectations and how each role fits into the omnichannel personalization effort, the easier it will be to get buy-in throughout the organization.
Training requires time, resources, and strategy. Many companies are concerned about the amount of time, resources, and strategy required when implementing new omnichannel personalization tactics. While training on new systems and processes can take time, not everyone will need to know how to work with the new technology. Additionally, it's vital to find the right tech solutions for your organization and where you are at in the process of developing your suite of tools and omnichannel strategy. If training is a major hurdle, look for tools that do not require a heavy lift. Many solutions will not require much upfront training and, once they kick in, will actually relieve your team of many manual processes, freeing up your time and resources.
When information is shared across channels, and data analytics is focused on personalization, it is easier to solve customer problems. For example, suppose John bought a blender last week and asked a question on Facebook. The community manager should quickly find his purchase in the system and see any other contact that John made regarding the issue. The manager could address the problem immediately and give personalized advice without asking for more information. Suppose John's inquiry is about something unrelated to his recent purchase. In that case, the representative might follow up with "How are you liking the blender?" to add more information to his customer profile after the original question is answered. They may also trigger a marketing flow to collect a customer review if his response is positive or send a coupon for a related product that he's likely to enjoy. Excellent customer service is critical to the health of any brand. Nearly 70% of people using smartphones online are inclined to spend money with a brand that makes it easy to find answers to their questions.
Customer loyalty and increased lifetime value
Customers love saving time and money. They don't want complications or roadblocks standing in the way of their purchase. Show them you have what they need at the quality and price they want, and you'll have their business. Give them an easy, enjoyable journey on the path to purchase, and you will have a fan for life. One study showed that companies that use omnichannel personalization have a 90% higher customer retention rate than those that don't.
Look no further than Nike. Their ads make customers feel like an athlete and motivate them to work out. Employees use a tablet to film and analyze their gait when they walk into a store to provide personalized shoe recommendations. Consumers receive an email with all of the information and links to relevant products. They can buy and return however is most convenient for them — online or in person.
There are no barriers to purchase in this example. The entire process is hyper-focused on the individual consumer, making the experience memorable and strengthening the connection between the brand and buyer. Though the world is racing toward digital, the in-person experience is still vital for many companies. Retail, convenience, grocery, and hospitality industries get 80%+ sales in physical stores, so creating a cohesive strategy between the online and in-person experience is vital to omnichannel personalization.
Though educating staff on new strategies and technologies takes time and money, investing in your team shows that you trust and appreciate them. The fact that you want them around for the long haul and want to help them expand and heighten their skills while working at your company is a positive for employees.
In addition, investment in new technologies and strategies like omnichannel personalization makes your team's job easier and helps them realize higher success rates. This data-driven, personalized approach to marketing and sales makes it so your team isn't guessing at what works. Instead, they use real information about your current and future customers to engage with them and make the sale. Employee morale is critical to the success of a business and the reputation of a brand. Strong revenue, boosts in success rates, and a commitment to betterment will all positively impact employee retention.
Brands need to create unique relationships with their customers and leads through memorable experiences and valuable interactions to gain a competitive advantage. Omnichannel personalization is a grand strategy that crosses platforms, channels, and the physical-digital divide.
Take Your Sales to the Next Level
The one thing every business can expect is constant change. With new technologies emerging and consumer expectations rising, marketing strategies must continually evolve to keep up. Companies that aim to take the lead must create meaningful and memorable customer experiences. That starts with good quality data about their audiences and consumers, followed by strategies that leverage the information to create highly personalized interactions.
Omnichannel personalization requires teams to work together to create incredible customer experiences. Better communication and integrated tools will help build complete profiles on each consumer to tailor their experience to their personality, lifestyle, and preferences. Marketing messaging and offers will become more effective, leading to higher conversion rates, larger sale amounts, and stronger customer and employee loyalty. If you're ready to take your sales to the next level, it's time to get started with omnichannel personalization.