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One of the major challenges facing all marketers both on and offline is integration. Whether you have an established multichannel presence or are currently testing the waters, here are a few simple tips to make sure your strategy stays on track:
It’s never been more important to implement an end-to-end customer experience if you want to really maximize profits and keep your customer base coming back again and again.
On paper this makes perfect sense, but the logistical challenges involved mean that many businesses are still failing their customers by keeping their marketing functions within strict on and offline silos rather than offering true integration.
Anyone who’s worked in a marketing department will know the high risk of fragmentation that exists. With multiple campaigns running at once it’s easy to lose track of the day to day work and your campaign results.
Worse, there’s often a real lack of online ownership, with companies regarding online as an extension, rather than a full member of the marketing team.
A case in point is the surge in social media presence we’re currently experiencing, but like digital marketing before, many companies are placing social media at the end of the line, relegating it to newsdesk status rather than creating a truly dynamic experience for their online customers.
Part of this is down to inexperience, but without some clearly deliniated lines, it can also easily become office politics.
While your online channels should be promoting your offline efforts, the opposite is also true. Your offline marketing division need to be promoting online campaigns, so that you can unify your brand presence across the board. While it may sound simple, putting everything together this way will require some serious forethought and some clearly deliniated processes.
Whether you have an established multi-channel presence or are currently testing the waters, here are a few simple tips to make sure your strategy stays on track:
Make content a two way street.
Your website shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. Make sure all your branding features links to all your sites. I’ve lost count of the number of emails I’ve received that don’t have a ‘follow us on Twitter’ or ‘Like us on Facebook’ button.
Tagging your email is as essential as putting your phone number on your headed notepaper. Pushing your site to your offline customer base increases your sales opportunities.
Keep policies consistent
Ultimately, you should be aiming for complete unification, so credit or return policies should be the same. If at all possible, enable your customers to return items bought instore via the web and vice versa.
You should be monitoring individual customer behaviour. If you have a purchaser who uses catalogues extensively, they may require a different impetus to customers who spend more time online.
Make sure you have clearly defined methods for reaching out through different channels. You should also link these preferences and responses to your customer database so you can more effectively target your future campaigns.
Standardise the buyer experience.
Customers who use multiple channels for purchases are often the ones who purchase more often, but one of the reasons they try different approaches is in order to grab a bargain.
They fully expect to see the same (or more) content online than off. Add online promotions to maximize multichannel purchases, but make sure you promote them through your offline outlets. If you have a smaller outlet that doesn’t carry everything, you should make sure customers know where they can find the item they require.
Make sure you keep staff informed of web initiatives.
If they don’t know, they can’t promote it. Make sure online promos are emphasised in regular meetings and distribute emails and literature so they can more efficiently help a customer.
Don’t just collect information –use it.
At every point of exchange, you have a chance to collect information on your customers. Email addresses, buying habits, demographics. All of which you can use to more accurately target your sales.
Unfortunately, it’s still common for offline marketers to collect information and not pass it to online. Make sure you compile a central, open database and use it to drive and improve the customer experience. Make sure you follow up in-store purchases with direct or email promotion.
Monitor across the board.
Finally, make sure you integrate your results monitoring. Don’t be tempted to put online results into a separate silo, instead check responses across all your channels and track the ones that provided the greatest response. By doing so you’ll be able to construct a production line strategy and more effectively organise promotions so that they flow through all your channels.
By introducing a few rules and making sure you have a non-hierarchal approach to marketing, you'll stand a far better chance of having a flexible, fast-moving and dynamic brand presence with an adaptable multichannel presence.