There are plenty of ways to connect with customers on their channels of choice. What can be difficult is getting the relevant content and mix of channels right for every customer. The challenges associated with managing vast amounts of content, and sharing that content globally and in multiple languages, can be a painful logistical issue for marketers who are not equipped with the right process and tools. With this in mind, here are 10 tips to help you maximize your success. I’ve seen these tactics deliver consistent results in multiple real-world omnichannel marketing initiatives. Why not try a few and see what happens?
1. Build your content library
The first step is to tell your brand story through great content that educates, influences and persuades. Your content needs to be relevant to where the buyer is in their journey. Whether that means creative campaigns or just straightforward, clean copy, it’s important that you take the time to get it right for your audience.
How much content you need depends on several factors. First, you need to develop buyer personas, or profiles of your customer(s) based on existing data and market research. Each buyer persona will go through a number of phases through their shopping journey, such as research, evaluation and decision. For each of these phases, there are a number of questions that must be answered for the problems they are trying to solve before they click the buy button. The quantity of those questions for each buyer persona in each phase of their journey determines how much content you need to create.
2. Modify your content
The next step is to tweak the presentation of your content in the context of each channel to enable connected experiences for customers. The content must be relevant to the channel, as well as consistent across channels. This prevents fragmented experiences when users access your content using different devices. Regardless of where they are and what devices they are using, users expect to be able to pick up where they left off. Marketers that use content-as-a-service along with some kind of personalization are able to pull this off (more about technologies later).
3. Reuse, recycle, repurpose
Once you’ve created your core content, make sure you are maximizing its use by repurposing it for multiple formats and channels. There’s no reason a case study can’t be woven into a white paper that can then be redesigned and atomized into an e-Book, an infographic, videos, advertisements or short social media posts. Use of a content marketing pyramid may help with this process, or Jason Miller’s Big Rock concept. Get creative about what messages need to be communicated to your customers, again based on persona and buyer phase, and deliver those messages in multiple formats across multiple channels.
4. Choose your channels wisely
Omnichannel fatigue is a real thing for marketers (and their customers) and there is honestly no reason to push content out on every single available channel.
The right strategy is to be where your customers are, not where they aren’t. For example, your customers might prefer Instagram to Pinterest (or the other way around). They might be on LinkedIn, but not Facebook. It’s important to know which channels your customers are using and how they are using them. If you are not sure, ask them or use analytics to determine the channels where your users are most active. Armed with real data, you can then take action and optimize content for only those channels that should be a part of your marketing mix. Also, don’t stop at the digital boundary — remember that omnichannel includes both offline and online.
5. Break down data silos
One way you can improve your customer targeting is to pull together data from across your organization — not just what you’re keeping in marketing databases — and external channels using an AI-powered personalization tool for a holistic view of the customer. The resulting data-driven insights allow you to better target and personalize content to customers on any channel and therefore can significantly improve the effectiveness of your omnichannel content marketing strategy. Taking omnichannel enablement one step further, you can then use content-as-a-service (CaaS) to streamline your personalized content to any channel and deliver it to customers in real time, wherever they may be. This approach is advanced omnichannel marketing at its best.
6. Keep your brand consistent across channels
Once you have fine-tuned your channel mix, it’s important to ensure that the user experience is consistent across those channels. That includes both your visual brand and your verbal brand. The use of CaaS is critical here as it can ensure that you are consistently using content — taglines, text, images, graphics, etc. — across all channels. It allows you to design your channel experience for each channel, not for each piece of content. CaaS delivers content to each channel where it is automatically and instantly presented to customers in the experience you intended. This brand consistency reassures customers and delivers the perfectly timed and perfectly presented omnichannel experiences that customers crave.
7. Tell your story authentically
That starts with telling a story that has a beginning, a middle and an end. Let people know how your business started, what passions drove its creation, and the problems you wanted to solve for your customers. Add in personality through an agreed-upon and consistent voice. For example, is your brand cheeky, solemn, friendly, professorial, fun, or energetic, among other things? Ensure that your visual and verbal brands reflect your corporate voice and tone, and think about if you want to embody that personality in a character (think: Flo from Progressive).
Make sure you aren’t only telling your story, but also listening and responding in kind. This creates a two-way relationship that keeps customers engaged and interested in your brand.
8. Test and optimize your message
Even if you’ve conducted traditional market research (such as user surveys or group feedback sessions) to create and tweak your message, you still want to test what you are saying to your audience on an ongoing basis. That’s because audience needs can change subtly over time and if your message doesn’t evolve along with that change, it can become out of date and less effective.
Because of the dynamic nature of customer needs, we highly recommend that you continuously optimize the performance of any content along the customer journey. It sounds like a daunting task, but the good news is, today’s AI-powered testing and optimization tools can do the work for you. Set your optimization goals, run the tests and select the top-performing variations for truly effortless optimization, enabling faster time to market and increased revenues.
Test everything across all channels, from headlines, subject lines, copy blocks, images and web page layout, including navigation. Test various elements to create trust online, like third-party validation, customer testimonials, cybersecurity badges, etc. If your focus is revenue growth, optimize for that, not just clicks and conversions.
9. Segment and target your audience
Once you understand what works best with your audience, you’ll want to segment your audiences by geography, device, browser, campaign or other variables to sync up with each user’s preferred method of interaction. Artificial intelligence (AI) has recently opened doors to more advanced micro-segmentation that was never previously possible. AI-powered micro-segmentation helps uncover smaller, high-performing segments using factors such as subscription status, customer journey phase, geolocation — even current weather conditions — and target those segments with very personalized digital experiences on any channel, at any time, anywhere. It’s easy to see how this advanced micro-segmentation can give you a serious competitive edge.
10. Get the right technology in place
When you’re ready to up your omnichannel marketing game, you need to up the tools in your digital experience ecosystem as well. Look for proven solutions built for businesses with a global footprint that can simplify complex, distributed environments and enable you to achieve your omnichannel marketing strategies with ease. If you are buying now, the platform must offer AI-powered personalization or it will be outdated almost as soon as it’s implemented. It also must enable you to deliver the right content to the right user at the right moment on the right channel. Increasingly, marketers are turning to digital experience platforms for content-rich commerce and other capabilities. Whichever technology you choose, make sure it fully supports your omnichannel digital marketing strategy so that you can deliver the on-target content-rich experiences that customers require on any channel, wherever they may be.
Heidi Unruh is Global Vice President, Content Marketing for e-Spirit.