Reaching customers across digital and non-digital channels at every point of their purchase journey is becoming the focus of many online businesses. Today, US companies are spending more money than ever to reach and target customers across a combination of integrated marketing channels, including website, email, social media, search, display/video advertising and physical store. But it does not stop there. Companies are also shifting to multi-screen advertising campaigns with cross-device targeting and monitoring solutions creating a seamless customer experience from screen-to-screen and from home-to-work-to-store.
Many online businesses have implemented some form of omni-channel marketing, but few are full omni-channel and can consistently employ consumer data across multiple channels. According to a study by Multichannel Merchant, a market research firm focusing on multi-channel ecommerce, nearly two-thirds of the companies they surveyed are implementing omni-channel marketing tactics, or they are planning to implement it in the near future.
Analytics and Data-driven Consumer Insights
The Multichannel Merchant study was conducted to find out how companies use, or want to use, data-driven consumer insights to create omni-channel engagement with customers and prospects. Survey participants revealed that the top-5 most critical touch points for gathering customer insights are company websites with 87% of respondents ranking them as critical, followed by email (68%), mobile (61%), social media (54%), and search engines (53%).
Multichannel Merchant also discovered that senior management at the companies participating in the study viewed consumer data analytics technology, usage and services to be essential for effective omni-channel marketing. It is therefore no surprise that corporate spending on customer data and predictive analytics technologies is growing. 30% of the companies surveyed by Multichannel Merchant believe that omni-channel marketing is critical and 40% believe it to be important, only 14% feels it is not important for their business.
User Experience and Personalization
Customers prefer a seamless and consistent cross-channel purchase experience from screen-to-screen and from-home-to-work-to-store. Accenture conducted a study (The Accenture Seamless Retail Study) that reveals that slightly less than half (49%) of consumers believe the best thing companies can do to improve the user purchase experience is to better integrate in-store, online and mobile channels.
The ability to deliver customers a personalized and satisfying purchase experience through the omni-channel is a top priority for the vast majority of companies surveyed by Multichannel Merchant. The participants in the survey also revealed more insight in the customer data identifiers they care about. Two-thirds (66%) said they consider the customer email address the most important data they capture, followed by mobile phone number (29%), online cookie data (31%), home address (29%), IP address (25%) and landline phone number (24%).
Using the data they gathered across multiple channels to identify customers and personalize their experiences was considered most critical by 31%, important by 42%, and somewhat important by 17% of the survey respondents. Three-quarters of companies expect or realize a sales lift from their integrated omni-channel marketing efforts.
Nearly half of the companies surveyed by Multichannel Merchant reported that systems integration issues are their biggest challenge. More than half (54%) of respondents cited lack of staff with deep analytical expertise to apply the data and analytics as a major barrier to omni-channel marketing.
The Multichannel Merchant survey concludes that meeting customer user expectations by providing a seamless purchase experience – whether in a store, online or through a mobile device – will win customer loyalty and gain a competitive advantage that drives sales.