Every marketing manager, by now, has heard the buzz on marketing forums about Omni-Channel Marketing (OCM). Simply put, OCM is consistent and relevant messaging to your customers across all digital marketing channels. Why is it needed? Because Social Media and Mobile devices have changed the way customers shop. Consider this for a minute. Customers use 10.7 sources of information before making a purchase [Source: Google/Ipsos research]. As a retailer, if you are only marketing to your customers on one or two channels, you are already losing the race to the likes of Amazon. It’s not a matter of if but when you should implement an omni-channel marketing strategy. The issue is that not all businesses are ready for the shift. Here are three warning signs to watch for.
Over-reliance on the gut
I had this conversation a few months ago with a COO of a retail chain. They did very well through to the turn of the century and then their revenues started flattening. Over the last five years their earnings per store have tanked and they are closing stores the first time in the history of the company. Our sponsors in that company wanted to develop a CRM strategy around a data-centric view of the customer but kept getting keiboshed by the COO who “knew” the answer because that’s how it has always been. Till this day, their online presence has languished because their traditional customer does not shop online and prefers the walk-in experience. I would love to agree but fact is, their revenues are not increasing and the Yelp reviews are appalling.
My point is, if the organization leadership is set in its ways, it is unlikely you will get buy-in on a strategic shift. Time to pick other battles or perhaps another battleship.
Hodge-podge processes and metrics
Even with excellent role players, the business may languish because there’s no cross-functional visibility. Is your web strategy targeting a consumer persona very different from the social positioning? Does the imagery and the messaging match with the corporate view of the consumer and what she values? If the answer is no, chances are your processes are a mess. Even if the omni-channel marketing initiative gets off the ground, it will likely be a hodge-podge of mixed, confusing campaigns.
Who is the customer? What does she want?
If a business does not have a basic customer segmentation in place, or a rudimentary understanding of customer lifetime value, then there are more foundational changes needed than an omni-channel marketing deployment. Technology is cheap now and it should not need a multi-year initiative to get rudimentary analytics in place.
The above warning signs are my observations from conversations with the industry. I totally understand if Amazon has everybody worried, but jumping into omni-channel marketing without having a solid foundation is folly. In case you want a more formal assessment of your readiness, use the free tool in the link below. If you score under 3 on a scale of 1-5, I think you should consider correcting what’s busted first.
Warning bananas picture by Lars Plougman used with permission under creative commons license.