POST WRITTEN BY J.D. Blair
President/Creative Director at Mad Men Marketing, overseeing the strategic expansion, and creative direction of the agency.
Omnichannel is a term that may be on the top of the buzzword heap right now. However, that should not diminish its significance. Let me qualify that buzzwords get a bad rap (see my previous Forbes article about buzzword billies), purely from the media salespeople that use them with no substantiation or understanding of their origins. That isn't even the fault of the media salesperson -- it's the fault of their corporate structure trying to be experts in everything media, instead of improving their core competencies. I digress.
What does omnichannel really mean? “Omni’ is defined in the dictionary as “all; of all things,” and “channel,” as it relates to marketing, is the delivery path. But truly, it is much more than this -- yet, simplistic at the same time. It's like the fear you get from a first kiss or learning to ride a bike. And it's simplistic if you understand the strategic thought leadership it takes to delivery true omnichannel creative experiences.
Omnichannel advertising is the process by which marketers create a nearly seamless transition between platforms: PPC, landing pages, social media, TV, “over the top” or OTT (I'll be getting into this particular channel next month, in-depth), direct mail, billboards, radio, blogs and all the other channels that can be utilized to engage the targeted demographic content path of consumers.
In fact, this very article is part of my omnichannel content funnel. And the following is the process for creating your own effective omnichannel advertising funnel.
Don't assume you know who your customer is. You may be reaching some potential consumers only some of the time. “Some” is the glaring keyword that should scare you. If your business is successful reaching some, imagine the possibilities of reaching more. Research!
Identifying the proper channels is another essential piece of the puzzle. There are great tools out there, like Neilsen, comScore, your local broadcast/cable television providers, radio, billboards, print, etc. Make that phone call and collect as much data as you can. In terms of qualitative data, I personally like using research by Statista and Marshall Marketing. Understanding where your customers index by channel is essential to setting up scalable success.
One key tip -- be consumer-driven in all of your efforts. Don't focus on your brand, focus on your customer.
Creating silos of customer personas will help you create effective segmentation. Say it again: segmentation. This segmentation allows you to essentially create behavior targets.
Understanding the most efficient way to reach your customers on the channels themselves is a required step in understanding which channels will be most effective when combined with your personas. Younger persona silos may respond better to OTT than, say, an older demographic that tends to index better on local news programming. There is typically a sweet spot (loaded statement) for a particular product or service. Having a diverse mix of channels will ensure lasting and, more importantly, scalable growth.
Now that you have your customers segmented, serve them with content that is tailored to their specific needs and show a laser-focused understanding of their habits and how your product fits in with their lives on a personal level. It's called interaction.
This may sound redundant, but creating a content library typically requires content to be in text or video of some format -- literally, just create it. Blogs are great starting points, as are video blogs (vlogs). Once you create your content, knowing your personas will dictate where to deploy. Generally, your content will reach all of your social media channels, get included in a press release and in your traditional media buy (depending on your budget) and shared via any influencers you are using.
Analytics are key to understanding your current efforts. If you skip this step, then you'll be wasting time on the next step. Worse yet, you won't even be able to effectively complete the next step.
Measuring website traffic analytics is always the best starting point. Sales won't always equate to an effective strategy. Understanding any potential bottlenecks or pain points that may exist on your website is step one. Do your housekeeping in order to focus on the sell-in and sell-through.
Adapt Your Strategy And Creative
Always go in willing to be wrong and willing to change -- and change quick.
Any strategies can be wrong at first. Even with the best research tools available, you still have to try. Place a media buy and then change it if it doesn't work. Deploy ad copy in AdWords and change it if it doesn't work. The list goes on. Always be changing and improving. What gets measured will ultimately improve.
At the end of the day, you just have to take that first step. Dave Matthew says, “The first step is hardest of all,” and it's true. For most companies, that first step is knowing that it is time to disrupt what you've been doing, especially from a content strategy front -- or a lack thereof.
Today, more than ever, consumer attention is segmented, especially in media consumption. I believe that targeting consumers with proper content is the only way companies can compete as we move forward through space and time. Without a roadmap, you won't know where you want to be. Having a roadmap for content is like having a dream board -- you have to constantly measure yourself against what you set out to do.
The moral of the story is, don't be afraid to take that first step in understanding this particular buzzword term, omnichannel advertising. You can always choose to ignore it and keep doing what you've always been doing. In that case, you may find one of my next articles helpful, which discusses how doing things the way you've always done may lead you out of a job.