Watch one of the most popular sessions from the 2020 OmnichannelX Conference, free.
How do you actually know how well you are (or aren’t) executing on an omnichannel strategy? Ryan Skinner, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, used his extensive knowledge in omnichannel marketing and the data collection power of Forrester to create a framework for navigating your journey towards omnichannel mastery and maturity.
With the rising pandemic in the background, in April of 2020, Forrester Research surveyed marketers in Italy, France and the UK there was a strong subset of consumers who plan to continue to increase their online shopping post-pandemic.
According to the data, with more businesses adding or increasing their online commerce, there’s increasing competition among brands to determine which can deliver the best customer experience.
Ryan defines good customer experience as:
- Providing clear customer communications
- Showing your customers that you’re leveraging your knowledge of them whenever you interact
- Making your customers feel better, more empowered, and more successful
The omnichannel experience challenge, however, is doing this across many channels at once, sewing the threads of the experience into a coherent whole.
Mastering it isn’t easy. In fact, Ryan compares it to climbing Mt. Everest. But the rewards of customer growth, trust, and loyalty are well worth the climb, and Ryan’s milestones can provide you with some waypoints to follow.
Ryan’s 2020 session – which you can now watch on-demand for free – defines three summits, or maturity levels, with five capabilities per summit, that you traverse to reach omnichannel mastery.
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More free content from the 2020 conference:
- How you and your team can begin developing content that will be effective, can be reused endlessly, and will work in any number of contexts
- The mid-level capabilities that will help you inform, advise, guide, and care for your customer.
- The most sophisticated capabilities needed to achieve omnichannel mastery, including the ability to make qualitative decisions about what the right kind of experience looks like.
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1st Summit: Standardization, efficiency and reuse
Beginning the process of Omnichannel maturity
The first summit of focuses on driving greater content utilisation and adaptation with greater production efficiencies. You become more deliberate, explicit, and conscientious with how you manage content, how you reuse it, and how you think about it.
The five capabilities to master the first omnichannel maturity summit are:
- Your business has a centralized content group or team that is engaged in ensuring that content is treated has a business asset across teams, geographies, channels, and functions.
- Your content and experiences for customers and prospects are conceived and authored in way that take into account multiple channels (web/digital, social, email, etc.) as well as cross-channel interactions over the course of a user journey.
- You work with a content management or storage system that allows a single content object to be reused endlessly and work in any number of contexts (without replicating the object in each instance or channel where it is used), and you actively use this functionality.
- New content and experiences that you push to customers and prospects regularly reuse, lightly adapt, or incorporate previously published or authored content.
- You have received some education or training in the skills and concepts to support the creation and delivery of content and experiences that are independent of channel, such as content modelling, content design, structured content, content component authoring, or Agile experience design.
2nd Summit: Customer driven personalization
Improving the customer experience and growing closer to omnichannel mastery
The second summit is reached once you begin rethinking content in the context of a specific individual in a repeatable system. You should seek to
- inform them
- guide them, and
- care for them.
Content components are used to truly adapt to each individual customer based on
- their history
- their background
- their preferences, and especially,
- what they’re here to do.
The five capabilities to master the second omnichannel maturity summit are:
6. The vision of providing the ideal content and experience to each customer, based on who they are and what they want or need at the moment they come to you, is an explicit focus for your team right now.
7. The content and experiences for customers and prospects that you create can be reused across multiple channels without the need to manually upload them into separate systems, cut/paste them into new systems, or manually move them across folders.
8. The content and experiences for customers and prospects that you create are produced in format-independent components, suitably tagged with metadata that developers can easily re-assemble in new experiences based on API calls or integrations that correspond to the components’ meaning or purpose.
9. You have taxonomical or ontological classification systems for tagging your content that are consistent across channels where we publish or share content and experiences for customers and prospects.
10. Your content and experiences for customers and prospects start as the result of an omnichannel journey mapping process (and not as the result of a campaign objective, channel objective, etc.).
3rd Summit: Omnichannel customer experiences
Omnichannel content: the Mount Everest of content strategy
The final summit is not for the faint of heart. It is the jump from the core capabilities to scalable enterprise execution. It’s a significant accomplishment that takes a lot of work, but provides great value for your customer.
The five capabilities to master the third omnichannel maturity summit are:
11. You have connected all (or at least many/most) of the channels where you communicate with customers and prospects to maintain a consistent customer identity or profile across the channels.
12. You have applied structure to your digital content so that the content or assets can be delivered algorithmically based on a given customer profile.
13. A customer’s or prospect’s experiences across your touchpoints will generally involve a significant amount of customization based on interest and prior experiences that you have gleaned from either their behaviour or stated preferences.
14. You use AI/ML technologies – either bought or developed in-house – that automate the understanding of content (its topic, tone, emotional quality, etc) and either applies metadata to the content or delivers it in experiences most relevant to a particular customer, based on the content understanding.
15. You have a governance structure or function that ensures your customers’ perceptions of your content and experiences (their value, relevance, ease of use, and utility) is captured and addressed, independent of any one channel, on an ongoing basis.
Enjoy the view
Achieving omnichannel mastery will take time, coordination, and hard work. Thankfully, there are professionals, tools, and resources that can provide you some assistance along the way.
It may be a difficult climb, but you can reach the top, by building valuable customer experiences that will increase customers’ trust and loyalty to your brand.
Take the Omnichannel Readiness Assessment: How high can your brand climb?
Get unique tips on your current situation based on these milestones
Do you want to know where you are in your journey towards omnichannel mastery? Urbina Consulting is preparing an interactive self-assessment to help.
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About Ryan Skinner, Forrester Analyst
Based in London, Ryan primarily contributes to Forrester‘s offerings for B2C marketing professionals. He analyzes how marketers should pivot from campaign- and channel-focused strategies to content- and customer-focused ones.
Based in London, Ryan primarily contributes to Forrester‘s offerings for B2C marketing professionals. He analyzes how marketers should pivot from campaign- and channel-focused strategies to content- and customer-focused ones. In this context, Ryan leads Forrester’s research on content marketing, content strategy, customer engagement, and content intelligence for marketers.