For those of us old enough to remember the early days of the ecommerce revolution in the late 1990’s, today’s emergence of Omnichannel Marketing has some eerie similarities. In the early days of ecommerce, there was a paradoxical atmosphere amongst pioneering ecommerce professionals at leading brands. On the one hand they recognised that ecommerce was a critical emerging commercial channel and were keen to demonstrate ambitious adoption. On the other, ecommerce accounted for a tiny, inconsequential proportion of sales, they weren’t sure how to make it a success and colleagues outside these fledgeling digital teams had no idea what their colleagues were talking about with such excitement. Many of those ecommerce pioneers had to do some fancy footwork to get their ecommerce initiatives started, without falling foul of the business case and ROI.
Fast forward almost 20 years and the marketing industry is abuzz with how to adapt to the digital consumer moving seamlessly across devices and channels, looking for timely and personalized experiences to support purchasing decisions. Integrated campaigns, cross-channel, a unified view on the customer experience and omnichannel marketing are all topics for fevered debate. But knowing omnichannel is the inevitable direction of travel is one thing. Getting the business to support a transformation in technology, processes, team structures and more to align with the vision is quite different.
Late last year The CMO Club surveyed more than 120 Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and global marketing executives, revealing that most companies have yet to begin to implement an omnichannel strategy. Whilst the findings reinforces the desire of brands to create seamless, customer-focused experiences, and that those creating cross-channel experiences are achieving success, the survey also highlighted significant obstacles.
Just over half (55%) of respondents were yet to implement omnichannel marketing, while only 11% of CMOs had put integration across online and offline channels in place. 64% of respondents reported a lack of resource and investment to succeed with omnichannel.
In our experience working with brands, here are some of the key obstacles to getting buy in for an Omnichannel Marketing strategy and how to overcome each:
1. LACK OF RESOURCES
It’s a brave soul that claims brands have invested in sufficient extra headcount to keep pace with the growth of marketing activities fuelled by a proliferation of media channels, content creation, social engagement etc. In truth, whilst agencies have grown, in-house teams are often stretched and running flat out to keep the show on the road.
Set against this, brave statements about new ways of working can easily fall on deaf ears. However, progressive CMO’s understand that a key reason that resources are so stretched is that the traditional channel-first approach to marketing is fundamentally unworkable when channels continue to proliferate so rapidly. If something is essentially broken, it won’t fix itself and the damage caused can only grow.
We’ve written about the curse of the silos at length in previous blog articles. Here we’re talking especially about content, team, insight and budget silos. Companies have been caught flat footed by the loss of control in their relationship with consumers. Organisational structures and processes created primarily to ensure businesses can deliver campaigns look hopelessly out-dated set against the need to deliver seamless experiences for customers. The complexity of silos is putting an intolerable strain on marketing teams.
Budget silos are a great example of how companies have built their business processes from the inside out. When the CMO Club asked CMO’s about the budget structures they use, the most common approach separated brand spend from direct marketing or allocate budget by business unit. Other popular structures included budget distribution by channel or split between online and offline.
Similarly, attribution capabilities based on a channel first approach provide only a fragmented view of the customer experience. Once brands are able to put in place technology to evaluate success across channels, there is a step change in the ability to optimise marketing performance.
We see use cases with some of our customers, such as merging content, social and ecommerce teams, which indicate progress in breaking down silos. However, sometimes these improvements can be too little and too slow, and a more ambitious approach to create cross-functional teams around customer segments is required.
3. BIG DATA, SMALL DATA, NO DATA
Just a few years ago ‘Big data’ was the buzz term of the moment and there can be no doubt that data plays a crucial role in creating successful omnichannel customer experiences. But today, brands face a spectrum of data challenges from having too much without the ability to extract sufficient value, to not enough (or at least not in the right places or forms).
In some ways these challenges are mirrored with content (not enough, too much, not in the right places). Brands that can at the same time harness and combine their best data and content will be ideally placed to deliver the seamless experiences that customers demand.
Is it an exaggeration to say the marketing industry is undergoing change at an unprecedented scale and pace. Who knows, but for sure CMO’s have a very long list of competing demands for investment across media spend, creative, content creation, technology, headcount etc.
The very rapid pace of change driven by technology innovation (which brand can afford to ignore the latest change in Google’s search algorithm or Facebook’s newest offering) and the sheer complexity of engaging audiences across different channels and devices, mean brands are often fully focused on keeping the show on the road whilst making only incremental investments/improvements.
The Knexus platform provides fully personalized experiences delivered into chosen digital touch points, ensuring high relevance, timely content that matches customer needs and exceeds expectations, resulting in maximized engagement ROI.
We see the great impact that our solution has for our customers every single day.