Storytelling in an Omnichannel Marketing Environment

Omnichannel marketing has become a buzzword in the world of marketing, and especially on social media. It is not a new phenomenon at all.

In simple terms, it means integration of multiple channels so as to converse more efficiently with the target audience, giving them a continual experience.

A recent study by The CMO Club revealed that more than 50% of CMOs are not using an omnichannel marketing strategy while 29% plan to do so over the next year. Based on these numbers, people apparently haven’t effectively utilized omnichannel marketing strategy.

The reasons for this could include lack of resources, a siloed budget, and technology.

Evolution of companies in an Omnichannel Marketing Environment

One of the most basic customer demands is that the experience is as consistent and personal as possible. Technology has enabled several e-commerce companies to develop digital touchpoints, but the experience needs to be seamless and engaging.

When your business is on an omnichannel journey, it becomes highly necessary to gather and analyze the past and present behavior of prospects and customers as well as predict their future conduct.

There are a plethora of technology platforms that can not only deliver on the promise of omnichannel but also measure and track items. The key is knowing what to measure. Marketing has become more metric-based than ever before, and every activity is equated to the outcome and return on investment (ROI).

Marketing is no longer about improving the 1% with a massive marketing spend, but about building products and customers out of almost nothing in a scalable and efficient manner.

However, there are hundreds of metrics to choose from, and they are not all problematic. The task of a professional is to distinguish between metrics that simply cannot be measured and those that can; furthermore, they must determine which parameters provide misleading information.

Metrics can be categorized into eight groups.

i. Consumption metrics details the specifics of how your marketing content is being consumed. They quantify how that content is delivered. They quantify how many people consume it. They also detail the frequency and nature of their consumption.

ii. Sharing metrics detail how marketing content is shared among consumers. They reveal what content is shared and who is sharing it They also describe where the content is being shared and the means utilized to share it.

iii. Lead metrics describes the nature of how content supports lead demands. They determine how content helps to generate leads as well as how content receives leads. They also determine how content supports this overall goal.

iv. Sales metrics tracks how content influences sales. They detail how it fills the pipeline and drives revenue.

v. Retention metrics tracks how effective your strategies are in retaining your audience. This includes both short-term and long-term relationships.

vi. Engagement metrics is where sharing and consumption intersect. They detail how those metrics translate to engagement. They investigate how your strategies inspire your audience and what they inspire your audience to do. They also monitor how frequently and consistently those engagement actions occur.

vii. Production metrics assesses the performance of a team or individual. These metrics track project-oriented metrics such as meeting projected deadlines or the time it takes to complete an outlined task. These metrics also monitor things like general output over time, such as daily or monthly production.

viii. Cost metrics determines your RoI. They are the result of virtually all other metrics.

When I interviewed Business Blogging CEO Kiruba Shankar, who is also a social media guru, author, speaker, and podcaster, on why only a few startups succeed, he explained, “Anything that you focus hard on will prosper; anything that you measure hard will grow. It is easy to figure out the ‘how’ part of measuring, but the key is to know ‘why.'”

A Harvard Business Review (HBR) survey showed that 80% of marketers today are unhappy with their effectiveness in measuring outcomes. In other words, they are unable to precisely interpret the RoI for their marketing activities. Given the current scenario, the inability to measure results has nothing to do with the sophistication of tools or software that you use to measure; it is about having a strong understanding of what you want to measure.

Kiruba added, “Giving an example from the world of digital marketing, gone are the days that digital and social media were obsessed with brand building, creating awareness or buzz creation. Companies are becoming increasingly mature and are setting clear expectations for the effort, time and money they are investing.

They want to see a solid impact on the bottom line and sales; this has directly influenced the way they start to measure. It makes it all the more important for organizations to get it sorted, right at the bootstrapping level, to have clarity on whether or not to be present on certain platforms. For example, one has to know clearly why their organization needs to be active on social media, why should they focus on the digital and what the expected outcome is. Organizations that have a precise answer on why and know what to focus upon choose the right tools and hire the right people to manage them.”

This understanding stems out of a strong acumen for organizational goals, strategy, and knowledge of what your organization, product, or service is set to accomplish. With fast-engine technologies and new trends emerging on a daily basis, it is important for marketers to have their ears to the ground.

Understand goals, collaborate.

Connect. Create. Align. Execute.
Storytelling in an Omnichannel Marketing EnvironmentBreak down data silos and employee resistance to create a true omnichannel experience. The role of CMOs is changing drastically and becoming more demanding than ever. Though the position has retained high-tuned commercial instinct, creativity, and analytical acumen, the need for collaboration with other functions and the level of expected expertise is increasing exponentially.
One of my customers once said, “A CMO cannot read minds, but that is part of the job description, and I would expect my CMO to do that.”

As blunt as the statement is, it declares that the foremost thing that today’s CMOs need to understand is that they are not hired to preserve the status quo. CEOs are not going to be pleased with that–they are looking for a change, which is nothing short of a surge. The expectations are high and with great expectations come great responsibilities and new roles.

The expectations of the role are far beyond mere marketing communication and advertising. CMOs are expected to be strategic drivers of growth, collaborating closely with the CEOs and CFOs by connecting consumer insights with strategy and creating plans that translate to business growth.

Successful start-ups over the last few years have shown that independent marketing departments are becoming smaller and smaller. The objectives of marketing must seamlessly integrate with the overall organizational goal and enable sales in more than one way.

You need to accept and acknowledge that marketing is no longer an independent department that only comes into the picture at the end of the product cycle. Rather, it is a synergic group that is a part of every discussion up to the fundamental level of product development that seeks precise answers to questions like “Why this product?” “Why this market segment?” “Does it align to what you want the organization to be known for?” and many more.

Does your every product, every marketing activity, every objective connect to how the product adds value to the organizational goal? Does everyone in your marketing team know why they do what they do? Is that activity directly or indirectly synergizing with the organizational goal?

Consider these findings from Forrester Customer Index:

i. 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience, but only 1% felt that organizations consistently offered a desirable experience.

ii. Only 37% of brands managed to receive good or excellent customer experience index scores in 2014. 64% received ratings of OK, poor or very poor that year.

iii. 89% of consumers say that poor customer experiences prompted them to begin doing business with a competitor.

iv. 60% of users say that a negative economy does not influence their buying habits and that they will pay more for a better experience.

v. 13% of unhappy customers will tell over 20 people about their experience.

The outcome of all efforts and strategizing must be growth, and sales are the simplest way to measure growth. It can be easy to confuse hype with growth, but the former has little meaning in the world of Twitter and Facebook trends or with the public’s general desire to be a part of the religion of popular culture. It is important to come back to concrete evidence and to devise new strategies when existing ones fail actually to deliver.

Alignment extends well beyond the shared goals of the organization. There must be a conscious effort from marketing to meet other departments where they are.

This means managing the following:
i. Perception of marketing professionals
ii. The goals unique to each department and how best to communicate with them
iii. Clear communication of marketing contributions
iv. The assumption of leadership roles to serve the needs of marketing effectively
v. Sales and marketing conflicts
Alignment might sound simple, obvious or at times even dumb, but it remains an unanswered question in several organizations. In all probability, this is one of the reasons that marketing teams are not taken seriously in certain organizations. When you start connecting those pieces, you’ll realize that you are a different marketer altogether.

Employees are potentially your greatest storytellers

To master omnichannel customer engagement, organizations must align the values, beliefs, and cultures of its employees, customers, and partners. Along with your clients, employees are at the epicenter of the omnichannel experience, as they deliver the customer experience at various touch points.

It is expected that almost 75% of the global workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025. Given that the personal and professional lives of employees are getting more intertwined than ever, this represents a remarkable opportunity of employees becoming your brand ambassadors. To be more precise, they are the greatest storytellers for your brand.

Given that an average employee has 1500+ connections on social media imagine the potential if they could be your storytellers. All they need is some training on tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite, Dynamic signal, etc.
It is not only about the opportunity to make employees better at their jobs, but also the employee advocacy that comes as a byproduct.
• Employees tend to have a better connection with the brand while the organization improves brand awareness.
• Employees are closer to what is happening across the organization, which in turn can improve customer loyalty.
• Employees begin to get into leadership mode while the organization culture is strengthened.
• Employees not only build a brand for themselves but, in turn, improve the odds of business for the organization.

Let your entire team know that things have changed or are about to change. Tell them about your long-term vision and strategy and share clear goals you have set for the upcoming period. Do this in the most transparent way possible and show them that the vision is not only backed by every management team member but also validated based on relevant and current data.

Let your whole team know “why” the organization exists, “who” the client is, and that the organization has to become more agile to keep up with the way the business ecosystem is evolving. Make them realize that they are the brand because they are the ones that interact with clients every day. Remember that a brand is a promise, not a thing.

In short, you want a consistent experience across all routes and consistent presentation of the brand style. You want to tell the same story. This is a part of building a relationship with the customer. Long-term customers trust a brand. They know what to expect, and they enjoy consistent satisfaction.

Anything else will break that trust, maybe not immediately, but eventually. The consistency of the brand is intertwined with consistency within the company, emphasizing the need for an omnichannel environment.

About the Author Yaagneshwaran Ganesh

Yaagneshwaran Ganesh is a marketing enthusiast, speaker and the author of "Is your marketing in sync or sinking?". His mission "One globe, one experience" is to explore marketing practices at organizations of different sizes, industry and cultures across the globe and help align marketing operations to organizational strategy. He has an MBA from Jansons School of Business and a certificate in strategy management from Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode.

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  • Nicely done Ron. Best article I’ve seen on Omnichannel Marketing.

    • Yaagneshwaran Ganesh

      Thank you Jeff, glad you liked it :)

      • And my apology for not initially noticing you are the author @yaagneshwaranganesh:disqus :)

    • Hi Jeff,

      When I first read this article by Yaagneshwaran Ganesh I felt the same way. I particularly liked the part about accepting that marketing is no longer an independent department that only comes into the picture at the end of the product cycle. Thank you for commenting!


      • Me too. Glad to see the world is waking up to that reality!