06.06.18

3 Reasons Your ‘Omnichannel’ Marketing Isn’t Really Omnichannel (Yet)

This article by Brand Networks VP of Marketing, Kyle Psaty expands on ideas originally presented on MediaPost.

Industry professionals at brands like The Home Depot and McDonald’s talk about omnichannel marketing as the end goal for all modern marketing strategies. At the same time, there’s a lot of confusion about what “omnichannel” marketing really means and how it’s used in practice.

I’ve seen marketers attempt to execute true “omnichannel” strategies for some time, but it’s clear to me that the omnichannel vision remains loosely defined and largely unattainable (for now, at least).

Before turning omnichannel marketing into reality, there are three major obstacles that marketers need to overcome:

Structure & Process

A big challenge for marketing teams is transparency. Most are functionally oriented and continue to operate in silos. Social teams gain insights from Facebook or Twitter, and use that data to inform future campaigns on those platforms. Meanwhile, the email team is looking at metrics provided by its ESP to improve performance, and the display team is reviewing its own dashboard to determine its next ad buy. Teams share topline insights and post-campaign takeaways—but in many cases, that’s where the sharing stops.

Omnichannel marketing teams need more than weekly check-ins to share actionable insights. In order to orient campaigns around individual consumers and more granular targeting segments, all facets of your marketing strategy have to be integrated. Each and every team under the marketing umbrella needs to be in constant contact, sharing insights, and maybe even audience segments from the DMP or CDP as they go.

Budget Fluidity

Similarly, the strategic and flexible use of marketing dollars is a structural roadblock with steep consequences. Once a specific team is allocated a specific budget, that number often doesn’t fluctuate — regardless of current events or changes in consumer behavior. Once you allocate $100 million to TV advertising, there’s no going back.

Brands need the flexibility to shift their budget between channels and strategies at the drop of a dime. Without this financial fluidity, teams will continue to face an uphill battle to truly implement an omnichannel strategy.

DataWizardry

Another challenge for marketers in their omnichannel efforts is determining how to use data without being creepy. Brands have access to more data than ever, but how to effectively gather, analyze, and use it (for good instead of evil) remains a struggle.

Customer data is often spread out across various spreadsheets and programs. Without a centralized place to house this data, how can a display campaign adjust based on insights gleaned from Facebook? How can personalized Instagram ads shift based on activity happening on Pinterest? Even further, a true omnichannel strategy means every touchpoint with a customer is highly personalized. This requires that data be compiled and analyzed from all active campaigns holistically. This is extremely challenging to pull off, and has yet to be mastered by any major brand to date.

A Challenge Within Reach

Though an omnichannel reality may not be possible today, it isn’t a lost cause.

One way that brands are making moves to overcome these challenges is with so-called centers of excellence within marketing departments. This team of marketers focuses on gathering data and sharing insights and audiences across the department. This practice is just taking off, and it’s a good starting point for overcoming current roadblocks limiting omnichannel capabilities.

Over the years, the marketing industry has taken dozens of twists and turns, and each challenge has been bested, one way or another. As long as we recognize the roadblocks in front of us, and accept that the mecca of customer experience is still ahead, I have high hopes for an omnichannel future.