Last year, a journalist from Retail Detail asked me about my vision on the marketing trends for 2018. At that time, I answered wholeheartedly: “omnichannel planning will be the most important challenge”. And, as it turns out in practice: the customer is completely ready for it. He or she thinks, acts, lives omnichannel. They want the same message and experience on every channel where they experience your brand message or communication.
What about the marketer? He or she thinks - in 2019 - at most ... 'multimedially'. In this article I zoom in on the differences between the two disciplines, I focus on the weaknesses but also give tips to make your marketing team omnichannel.
Omnichannel: the better version of multimedia?
Countless books have been written and numerous conferences held about multimedia marketing. Every marketeer has come to understand that a customer can no longer be reached via only one platform. But does this mean that they are omnichannel? Not really. In multimedia marketing, a diversity of channels are used to reach the customer, but this does not ensure that the customer receives the same message and experience through each channel. In omnichannel marketing, customers receive the same message and experience via every communication channel. Every channel is no more than a contact point within something that they see as a large, continuous whole.
The basic principle behind a typical omnichannel campaign is a specific message or experience that is subsequently communicated on various channels. The result: the customer or prospect – regardless of the channel – always receives the same message or experience.
Is the marketing department ready for omnichannel?
Generally speaking: not yet. And that's a pity because the customer or consumer lives omnichannel. He or she is frustrated if a message on the website does not link to the sales point, or if a salesperson at a trade fair looks confused at him or her when a promotional offer on social media is mentioned. But why is the transition to omnichannel so difficult within marketing teams?
Three major reasons:
- In the past few years, a special overtaking manoeuvre has occurred in the field of digital marketing. Organizations generally place digital marketers in a separate team, separated from the other teams (e.g. events, advertising, branding, etc.) and frequently with a Chief Digital Officer as the team leader. The result? The current "silo mentality" (a separate marketeer or dedicated marketing team for each type of media) is reinforced even further.
- The lack of an omnichannel marketeer who acts as a bridge across the various disciplines or teams makes things difficult. If this position is not filled, I can guarantee that every marketer or marketing team will continue to work based on their existing organization, objective tools and budget. That's disastrous for omnichannel marketing planning.
- The slow step towards digitization. Too many marketers or marketing teams get stuck using Excel, Word or PowerPoint files for their specific plans. However, these are not visible for colleagues from other teams, which results in an incomplete overview of the entire plan.
How to resolve this?
Based on the previous:
- By having the various teams collaborate on campaigns (thinking across the silos);
- By appointing an omnichannel marketer (someone from one of the existing teams, or the marketing team leader can take up this role);
- By making use of a single centralised digital platform for all work, which keeps campaigns clearly organized and easy to consult for all marketers.
The marketing team organisation chart is ready to be recast. In the diagram below you will see how a traditional marketing team (with silos) designs its organisational chart or organisation. The result is a team with partitions, where every sub-team or marketer bases their activities on their own organisation and draws up their plans based on a separate budget. This makes it virtually impossible to launch campaigns based on a single brand message or experience. The omnichannel mentality is hardly present here.
To evolve into an omnichannel marketing team hardly requires a revolution. The only change: putting the customer and the customer journey first and using this as a starting point for developing your omnichannel campaigns, in which all sub-teams or marketers communicate the same message for experience via their channel(s).
Evolving into an omnichannel marketing team in seven steps
Now, to get down to the nitty-gritty. How do you change from a traditional marketing team towards an omnichannel marketing team? Consider this an evolutionary process, or you will risk blocking changes in your organisation. After all, not every marketer will be overjoyed by having to work with a new process. Here is an outline of the most ideal step-by-step plan:
Step 1: Bring the team together
- Think across silos (overarching)
- Gather around the table (marketing meeting)
- Develop overarching projects for campaigns
- Draw up a plan for a few campaigns
Step 2: Speak the same language
- Appoint an omnichannel manager
- Set up a server structure with shared files
- Take minutes of your meetings
- Determine the nomenclature (jargon)
Step 3: Use the omnichannel customer experience as your starting point
- Chart out the customer journey
- Define the most important touch-points with the customer
- Apply this to the planned campaign(s)
Step 4: Plan the campaigns
- Determine the channels and touchpoints for each campaign
- Make sure that the overarching message is clear for everyone
- Keep track of and allocate tasks (role division), including deadlines
Below you'll find an example of omnichannel planning for the "Back to school" campaign. First the basic design, then a more extensive design in Excel.
Step 5: Sketch procedures and workflows
- Thanks to the process-based approach, omnichannel marketing will become a sustainable process
- Draft an omnichannel playbook (a collection of all processes and workflows), step-by-step
- Make this process flexible (allow everyone to contribute their comments & corrections) and transparent (so that everyone can read it)
Step 6: Use digital tools
- Centralize the data from omnichannel campaigns (projects, task planning, communication calendar, budget, notes, workflows, etc.)
- Basic: Office (Excel, Word & PPT) & Google Docs
- Advanced: various digital tools (e.g. Asana for projects & tasks and Evernote for notes and minutes)
- Pro: a digital marketing planner or Marketing Project Management tool like Husky
Implementing an omnichannel strategy in a digital marketing planner like Husky offers many advantages:
- The entire campaign planning is clearly outlined with channels and touchpoints.
- Tags (and extensive filtering) give you more insight into the customer journey.
- All tasks of all team members are visible to the entire marketing team.
- The campaign budget is available in one click.
- All notes and comments can be accurately managed.
Step 7: Redraw the marketing organisation chart
- Get rid of the partitions between the silos
- Create overarching authorities (e.g. omnichannel manager or customer experience manager)
- Set up common budgets, goals & rewards
- Think from the customer's perspective, not from your own micro-organisation or sub-budget
There you are! That was a fascinating challenge, wasn't it? But also a very urgent one, because the customer does not wait. After all, today's customer is fully omnichannel.
Are you interested to find out how your omnichannel strategy fits into the Husky digital marketing plan? I will be happy to show you. Make an appointment now.
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