The fundamental purpose of marketing has always been to attract buyers to your brand through relevant messaging and experiences. It’s about understanding, developing, communicating and delivering value to customers and prospects. The primary driver of the value exchange between businesses and buyers is the customer experience. However, the tools and techniques companies use to deliver this value are constantly changing and evolving in order to keep pace with the rapid and radical shifts in technology, markets and buyer preferences.
For many CMOs, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the acceleration of digital marketing transformations by several years. We are now firmly entrenched in a digital-first “new normal”, and there’s no going back. Any pre-pandemic resistance has largely, if not completely, evaporated. Full-funnel demand and lead generation campaigns with content assets mapped to each stage of the customer journey reveal that, as with most journeys, paths are not always linear. And the mix of channels and platforms that a company selects for engagement might not be the most relevant and compelling ones to every buyer.
The proliferation of digital channels birthed three primary marketing strategies that combine both digital and traditional print channels for demand and lead generation campaigns – multichannel, omnichannel and optichannel. You may have heard these marketing methods used interchangeably, but they are distinct differences in each approach that are worth noting.
Multichannel (multiple or many channels) marketing uses multiple, non-integrated, online and offline channels and platforms to reach customers and prospects.
Omnichannel (all or every channel) marketing solves the multichannel disconnect by orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it’s seamless, integrated and consistent. But some businesses are finding this synchronized engagement on all channels all the time for a single marketing campaign to be cost prohibitive. Messaging may be always connected but perhaps not always relevant. And customers are more likely to opt-out of non-relevant engagement channels than opt-in to receiving an endless stream of messages and content that arrive at inconvenient times.
Optichannel (optimal channel) marketing, the most recent descendant of this trilogy, focuses on simplifying customer journeys and experiences by proactively guiding buyers and prospects to the best channel to solve their problem or meet their need and preference in real-time. So rather than trying to be at all places by adding more channels and integrating them, it focuses on real-time interaction management with fewer channels to reach and guide buyers with laser-like precision to the next best action for a specific use case.
More optimal and less optional
According to PwC’s Future of Customer Experience report, a few irrelevant messages can mean that consumers will refuse to engage with a brand for months, with 32% likely to stop doing business with a brand altogether after just one negative experience. And 59% will walk away after several bad experiences, even if they love your products or services.
The most effective optichannel marketing strategies leverage artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), big data and predictive data analytics to make the optimal channel available for each interaction, which reduces multichannel friction and omnichannel fatigue while providing a more relevant and personalized experience with your brand. It allows you to react to in-the-moment behavioral changes and offers precise targeting so that you can invest in the best channels for buyers with the highest propensity to convert. And it does so in a way that is better, quicker and easier for your buyers and your business.
In this exciting age of digital transformation, optichannel marketing is changing the channel performance game with precise, data-driven strategies and an integrated approach to online and offline campaigns. If you’re interested in joining this movement, here are my top three best practices that savvy businesses are using to optimize their optichannel marketing campaigns, buyer experiences and return on investments.
There should be no daylight between your optichannel marketing and sales strategies to achieve a shared purpose of building pipeline and revenue opportunities. It’s now table stakes for these historically siloed teams to join forces to develop and execute a unified strategy and reap the benefits of shared success. And this success can be quite rewarding, as indicated from research conducted by B2B marketing automation leader Marketo, which found that aligned organizations had 67% higher conversion rates and their leads generated over 209% more revenue.
Sales and marketing teams should be collaborating to define/redefine your top industry verticals and create specific personas (think avatars) for targeted buyers within them. Top-of-the-house buyers with functional purview over both traditional print and digital marketing including CEOs, CMOs, VPs and Directors of Marketing are ideal. These decision makers are ultimately responsible for driving and delivering measurable marketing performance results.
These teams also partner to build non-linear buyer journeys; understand which narratives, content assets/sales enablement tools are working, what’s not working and why; define lead qualifications (MQLs/SQLs) and attribution; and determine shared lines of communication, pipeline/revenue goals, technology and performance metrics that matter most to the business.
We know that it costs at least five times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to retain or expand upon an existing one. As Ryan Dohrn, CEO of Sales Training World, says, “You need to work as hard to keep your customers as you did to earn their business in the first place.” So, focus on expanding your print-only customer relationships to an optichannel marketing solution. Then package your experience into industry-specific case studies, references and stories for potential buyers to demonstrate your optichannel marketing expertise and experience.
With the crumbling of third-party cookies and preparing for Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in 2023, along with new consumer privacy regulations on the horizon, it’s a good time to lean into your data strategy and building your first-party data lists. If you use third-party data providers, be sure to dig deep into their data sources, hygiene, compliance and management protocols.
Buyer preferences and behaviors are constantly changing. To remain relevant and profitable, businesses must continually know when, through which channel, and with which device buyers and potential buyers are interacting with your brand in order to build the best optichannel experience for maximum engagement and sale conversions.
Optimizing your optichannel campaigns is an ongoing iterative process of gleaning data-driven insights to make informed strategic decisions, testing new innovative approaches and incorporating key learnings back into the process for continuous learning and improvement.
Embrace the possibilities
Now is the time for to embrace digital transformations and consider adding optichannel marketing to your solutions – or risk being left behind by competitors who are eager to meet buyers’ evolving range of print and digital needs.
Be prepared to lead with customer insights, accelerate with enabling technology and automation, and reimagine your customer journeys and experiences to drive long-term profitable growth and enduring relationships.
For more information about digital transformation possibilities, please visit Konica Minolta online.