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Are You Omni-channel or Just Multi-channel?

I often hear varying definitions for omni-channel marketing when attending conferences, meeting with clients, or reading articles. For marketers, the world of omni-channel, and connecting both online and offline customer touchpoints is relatively new to the scene. The discipline is maturing and evolving at a rapid pace, as the list of available technologies grows and changes. It all started with the one-to-one channels of retail and call centers, then moved into digital channels, including web, mobile, interactive voice recognition (IVR), and paid media and finally incorporating the traditional outbound campaigning channels of email, direct mail, and SMS.

Today, marketers are on the cusp of a new wave of channels driven by the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual assistants (e.g., Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, etc.), and over-the-top (OTT) media services.

Companies that are unable to unify this strategy will not go unnoticed by the customer, who wants to view a company as a single brand, not a series of disjointed channels.

Historically, real-time decisioning had its beginnings in call centers and retail, with personal, real-time human interactions. Digital channels were a natural extension of the one-to-one experience and fit in easily. The real challenge appeared when email became the next cornerstone of integration and a significant change in thinking from the traditional outbound campaign approach was required. Many marketers were still approaching email from a product-oriented viewpoint, where goals were set at the product level, and marketers were narrowly focused on maximizing ROI by searching for an audience to purchase that one product. There was a time when this was an effective approach given the available technologies, but with the advent of real-time decisioning, capabilities have allowed us to move beyond that, to provide true personal experiences.

Once you are able to apply a consistent marketing strategy across every customer touchpoint, and can accurately track responses at every step, you can bring your marketing to a new level.  You can now manage impressions across every interaction, and not just those limited to the world of digital impressions or email impressions. You can accurately track and coordinate customer journeys across multiple conversations regardless of the channel of customer preference. Most importantly, you can be relevant and timely in every interaction while being able to respond in real-time to ever-changing customer needs.         

A true omni-channel strategy encompasses every single interaction with your customer, regardless of the channel, current or future. It’s not limited to digital, outbound, or inbound channels; it encompasses all of them.

To learn more about how to adopt a true omni-channel approach, check out “The Evolving World of Omni-Channel Orchestration,”  where you’ll gain understanding of the key differences between being omni-channel, as opposed to just multi-channel. You’ll learn how you can bring omni-channel to life along with the role of machine learning and the importance of organizational alignment.