May 24 by Elaine Ip
With the abundance of technology and information at their fingertips, today’s buyers are more informed and have higher expectations than ever before—they drive their own journeys. In fact, Forrester reports that anywhere from 66-90% of a buyer’s journey is self-directed before they finally interact with you. This means that your buyers’ perception of your brand is shaped by what they can dig up through research and word-of-mouth. Do you really want to leave that entirely in their hands?
Think of the buyer’s journey as a road trip. While your buyers know where they’re going, they may not know exactly how to get there. There may be some detours and pit stops along the way that are the everyday distractions out of your control, but with the right directions and navigation tools to listen to their behaviors and consistently communicate with them along the way, you can help your buyers navigate safely to their destination—a purchase from your company.
With the right marketing technology and know-how, you too can become more informed and set higher expectations of how your buyers should interact with your brand. So get behind the wheel with an omni-channel marketing strategy that engages your buyers at every touchpoint (wherever they are and whenever it makes sense) in their unique journey. To be successful, you need to align your channels and communications, remove siloes, and use the right tools to drive a seamless, continuous conversation.
Connect the Dots Across the Map
Just as drivers can take different routes to get to their destination, your buyers engage with your brand on all sorts of channels—email, social media, website, online ads, and more—and depending on the channel they’re on and their preferences, they may take different paths to purchase. Omni-channel marketing means tying the channels your buyers interact with your brand on together for a unified view of their behaviors, which allows you to listen on one channel and respond on another.
As buyers interact with one channel, marketers need to listen to their behavior and then respond with relevance on the next channel they jump to. This doesn’t mean blasting the same message on the next channel, but rather continuing the conversation and reinforcing your previous communication with the right message, at the right time, and in the right place. Just as road signs change as you get closer to your destination, your messages need to be tailored to match where your buyer is in her unique journey. For example, say a buyer interacts with your website and looks through one of your product pages then bounces. Tag her with a tracking pixel and then retarget her on the next channel, e.g. social media, with a more personalized, relevant message based on the product she was interested in.
Keep in mind that your communications should feel natural and not disruptive. In other words, it should feel like having a conversation with your buyers. While buyers ultimately decide their own journey, it’s important to understand who your buyers are and listen to your buyers’ behaviors throughout their entire journey so you can tweak your campaigns to accommodate their unique needs and preferences. Only then will you know when it’s the right time to nudge them to the next stage of their journey.
Get Your Wheels Aligned
With omni-channel marketing, it’s likely that you may need to restructure your organization to become more buyer-centric to allow the flow of information about your buyers and their behaviors across all channels. To accomplish this, it’s important to ensure that your marketing team is managing the entire customer lifecycle—beyond awareness and acquisition. Essentially, the customer lifecycle is the journey that your buyers take from awareness of your brand all the way to advocacy, and your team should be responsible for every stage along the way.
Whether you choose to allocate these responsibilities across your entire team or divvy them up between individual team members, the key thing is that there should be someone accountable for each stage of the customer lifecycle and the different activities that drive it. For instance, at the awareness stage the objective may be to build brand awareness and thought leadership, while at the engagement stage it may be activities that fuel audience engagement and accelerate the consideration of your product.
Use the Necessary Tools
Aside from just communicating with your buyers consistently, you need to communicate with your team as well to stay in-sync. This means making sure that each of your team members are equipped with the insights they need to push the right messages out. Often the system that ties together an omni-channel approach is a centralized tool, like marketing automation, that offers the technology needed to listen and respond to your customer, and measure your marketing efforts.
If a buyer has engaged on a certain channel, you need the right tools in place on the back-end to track that engagement and inform your other programs. And if you’re a B2B marketer, you need to keep your sales team in the loop with this data so they too can act accordingly. Without a centralized platform, you end up doubling or tripling the outreach to your buyers, often with the same exact message, through marketing content and sales calls. Unfortunately, that can lead to your communications feeling spammy.
Navigate Buyers to Your Stop
While buyers shape the majority of their journey, it’s your help along the way that will drive them to their destination. Don’t just hit cruise control and let them set the standard. Follow along with them in their unique journeys and adjust their path accordingly by delivering the right message at the right time on the right channel to get them to arrive at your stop.