Have you ever had experiences and interactions across a brand’s channels that just don’t connect? Maybe you bought something on a favorite retailer’s website… yet you’re still followed by ads for it across the Internet. Or maybe, after filling out an account application online, you find the call center agent you’ve reached has no knowledge of that, and you’re back to Square One. (Argh!)
As a consumer, you probably wish your experiences like these could be more cohesive. And as a marketer or marketing technologist, you know that’s often easier said than done.
In our annual research study on personalization trends, conducted with Researchscape International, we found that nearly half of organizations (47%) say they have “just a few” of their brand’s channels connected (down from 53% last year). On top of that, 23% don’t have any of their channels connected – precluding the delivery of personalized experiences from one touchpoint to the next, and preventing customers from picking up where they left off.
The issue isn’t that companies don’t want their customers and prospects to have logical, sequential and relevant interactions. Of course they do! Organizations often face challenges though: in the form of a lack of know-how, bad data or seemingly impenetrable data silos.
Cross-Channel Maturity Table
A first step to overcoming cross-channel and omnichannel challenges is to identify where you fall in terms of maturity. In our own conversations with companies, often see them at varying stages, represented below:
Here’s a quick explanation of these stages:
- Beginner: Here, marketers are typically personalizing only one digital channel. Only one team is involved in these efforts, and primary challenges include getting started, defining strategies and working out a repeatable process.
- Intermediate A: Marketers have progressed to personalizing two or three digital channels. Difficulties include coordinating across the various teams involved.
- Intermediate B: On this other intermediate path, marketers are deploying personalization in just one digital channel (as with the beginner stage). However, they’re syncing data from multiple systems and channels to deliver better-targeted experiences. Challenges typically arise around data coordination and integration.
- Advanced: Advanced programs and strategies incorporate human elements – such as in a call center, in a store or branch, or from sales and customer success professionals – in addition to digital interactions, to automatically suggest the next best action, offer or experience for a given individual. Both team coordination and technology integration tend to be the key challenges at this stage.
Advancing Your Maturity: The Role of Data
To improve your support and delivery of cross-channel and omnichannel personalized experiences, you need reliable, actionable, accessible and real-time data – that’s a given. In particular, it’s important to have the ability to:
- Track an individual’s behavior across channels (not just clicks and page views, but deeper, active indicators of interest: hovering, scrolling, engagement with reviews, etc.)
- Unite data from multiple channels and systems (CRM, marketing automation platform, point of sale system, DMP, etc.) in a central location
- Stitch this data together to establish a unified customer profile (UCP) for each individual and account – while bridging together information from known and anonymous individuals, once an anonymous person is identified (by logging in, clicking an email, loyalty ID, etc.)
- Leverage all your data to deliver personalized experiences in each channel, in real time, at the 1-to-1 level
Providing logical and cohesive cross-channel and omnichannel experiences is important to organizations and customers both. Consider these statistics from Salesforce’s recently released State of Marketing report (6th edition):
- 71% of customers have used multiple channels to start and complete a single transaction
- 69% of customers expect connected experiences
- 54% of customers say they get annoyed if they are targeted with an ad for something they’ve already bought
Powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, technology today enables personalized cross-channel experiences and next best actions, delivered in milliseconds and at scale.