Mastering omnichannel marketing will help create a positive experience for the increasingly digitally savvy customer and build a positive reputation for the brand
By Redickaa Subrammanian
With a billion-plus mobile phone subscribers, more than a half-billion individuals online, and nearly 300 million social media users (according to McKinsey), India ranks among the world’s largest and fastest-growing digitally-enabled consumer markets. In recent years, rapid digitisation, surging mobile internet penetration, and affordable data have resulted in a sea change in purchase and consumption patterns among the country’s consumers.
Today’s consumers may even appear to value convenience over price, and experience over product. They expect a heightened level of personalisation in both products and communication, and they want the brand experience explicitly tailored to their individual preferences across any number of channels. The net result is that brands must cater to the evolving behavior of consumers if they hope to capture any mindshare among their audiences.
Recognising the enormous challenges these changing consumer dynamics can pose for marketers, Resulticks commissioned a research study of more than 400 marketers to determine their readiness to adapt to and thrive in an omnichannel marketplace.
Based on the research findings, which included the respondents’ primary channels used, critical customer engagement initiatives, the presence or lack of an integrated approach to leverage data from multiple sources, and the timeline for their omnichannel strategy implementation, the survey report, Omnichannel Marketing Readiness in India: A Resulticks Research Report, classifies the respondents as leaders, followers, aspirants, or others.
Here are a few of the top-line findings:
- Slightly more than half the omnichannel leaders put social media on par with conventional channels, with 28% placing QR codes, beacons, and e-commerce similarly. This corresponds to our experience in the field, as clients and prospects alike are expressing growing interest in bringing channels like QR codes and social media into their omnichannel mix.
- Website and email being conventional channels top the list for three-fourths of all marketers, while over half of them have chosen SMS as the key channel.
- Nearly 75% of followers and aspirants rank customer acquisition as the top outcome expectation.
- Personalisation or individualisation and a unified 360-degree view of the customer are considered two of the most critical customer engagement initiatives by all marketers.
The omnichannel challenges
In a relatively ineffective attempt to fulfil consumers’ expectations for personalised, multichannel communication, many brands routinely batch and blast redundant emails, spamming consumers with irrelevant communication, dispatching information and offers across every plausible channel, relevant or not, and often at inappropriate times. Such campaign practices can leave customers and prospects so irritated, offended, or fatigued that they ignore, refuse to respond, or unsubscribe from the services, delete their apps, and perhaps even voice their discontentment on social media.
This underscores the need for marketers to target the right individuals with personally relevant, contextually appropriate messaging across that person’s preferred channel at a time where it can have the greatest impact. It calls for a fully integrated omnichannel approach. A data-driven, real-time omnichannel marketing strategy in its broadest sense offers the solution for delivering personally compelling experiences for each individual at every touchpoint.
Are Indian brands prepared for the challenges?
The recent survey captures the state of omnichannel marketing in India and walks readers through the implementation of an integrated approach to customer engagement. It explores initiatives, challenges, and priorities for Indian marketers and concludes with their expectations of business outcomes and investment plans.
- More than 9 out of 10 marketers have either implemented or are inclined to implement an integrated approach to omnichannel customer engagement. To see substantial outcomes, of course, there has to be a persistent commitment towards disrupting the marketing status quo at their organisations.
- 95% of the final implementations would have been carried out within a rather short period of 36 months. This demonstrates the scale of change required by a true omnichannel approach to marketing. The exact timeline, of course, varies depending on the organization in question, and can be as short as four months given the right alliances and technology.
While the timespan of implementation of integrated approach is lean, it has contributed exponentially to the marketing goals of about one in ten implementers. Adopting an integrated approach to omni-channel customer engagement will not only improve their customer acquisition and customer retention performance, it will also help them boost the return on their marketing investment.
The survey reveals that currently, one in five marketer is planning to increase their investments in omnichannel marketing in the coming years. My personal interactions with brands would indicate even three in five are getting ready to make the investment. Making use of the opportunity, Indian marketers are fast blending diverse online and offline communication channels on their way to accomplishing omnichannel goals.
More than two in five marketers have set aside a significant proportion of their marketing budgets for omnichannel customer engagement. A third is “getting there,” and a fifth is considering its implementation. With this transformational drive, brands and marketers can come closer to addressing the evolving behavior of consumers and capture a good slice of mindshare among their audiences. However, marketers still struggle to act on data in real-time, key to truly individualized engagement, and 40% of them are encountering barriers in devising differentiated strategy for omnichannel marketing.
Observations from the forefront
To conclude I would like to share what I have been seeing in the constantly evolving marketing space. In particular, I want to highlight how brands in certain sectors are adapting to current uncertainties and remain optimally omnichannel.
Travel and hospitality
While the industry has been severely impacted by the pandemic, brands are coming up with innovative ways to keep in touch with customers before normalcy resumes. We’ve seen the rise of virtual tours, for example, and by unifying their audience data during this time, travel brands can deploy highly personalized campaigns that assure customers of their delayed return or visit to their most missed destinations.
While offline interactions have been enhanced by digital for a number of years now in India, Covid-19 has greatly escalated the push towards digital. Quite a few providers are designing COVID-focused health insurance plans, perhaps coinciding with the potential closure of physical branches and making the entire insurance experience digital to optimize costs. Many are investing in making audience journeys on their websites and other digital channels a lot more seamless and contextually relevant, all while enabling functionalities such as one-click insurance with minimal data capture during purchase.
Transformative road ahead
Today, it’s time to focus on making marketing communication more relevant to customers across multiple channels. Omnichannel communication is a natural progression towards meeting the ever-increasing demands of today’s hyper-connected shopper. The Omnichannel Marketing readiness in India report showcases how mastering omnichannel marketing will help create a positive experience for the increasingly digitally savvy customer at every stage of their lifecycle and build a positive reputation for your brand.
In a mobile-first world, there is a big opportunity for brands to stand out amidst its competitors by creating a truly exceptional omnichannel experience for their customers. The customer is looking for a personalised omnichannel experience online, and when brands deliver what the customer wants, they’ll reward them with purchases, higher spending, and loyalty. I believe that there is no better time for marketers to disrupt the status quo, and those who are committed to becoming mavericks now will be the ones to reap the biggest benefits for their organisations.
The author is founder and CEO of Resulticks