Chances are you’ve heard the term ‘omnichannel.’ Once a buzzword, the concept of an omnichannel approach is now at the forefront of all marketers’ minds looking to improve user communication and engagement. However, despite omnichannel gaining traction for a while, and its benefits being well proven amongst marketers, it’s typically not been easy to implement for many businesses.
According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, companies with strong omnichannel strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers and see an average 9.5% year-on-year increase in annual revenue. For marketers, honing the benefits of omnichannel is evidently good for brand marketing purposes. Approached correctly, omnichannel offers increased brand visibility, more routes for interaction with new and existing customers, and much-improved customer satisfaction. It’s a win-win for all involved.
Marketing has always been a discipline controlled by consumer demand and it is this said demand that has been the major driving force behind the growth of omnichannel. In the age of the smartphone, where users have access to a wealth of devices, the birth of the ‘want it now’ consumer has left brands trying to adapt to a generation of users that expect easy interaction across multiple channel-based on what’s easiest for them. This could be anything from SMS, an OTT application, or something else entirely. This expectation means it’s now essential for brands to put a platform in place that delivers seamless communication in the way users want, when they want, and how they want, in order to stay ahead of the competition.
Yet, it is the wealth of communication channels now available that has caused the roll out of omnichannel to be far from plain sailing. Whilst there is a clear advantage to taking an omnichannel approach, actually introducing this concept isn’t without its own challenges. Many marketers believe the biggest challenge when rolling out omnichannel is identifying which communication mediums are the best fit for their specific marketing strategy, their target audience, and are in line with their brand. However, this does not take into account the potential IT challenges that omnichannel brings about. A common struggle for businesses starts with initial implementation using their own existing IT infrastructure, which requires significant time and resources to get right. On top of this, stitching together separate solutions beyond SMS and email – be it push notifications, chat apps, or even voice – is neither practical nor cost effective.
The challenges don’t stop there for brands looking to go it alone. Once a roll out of omnichannel does occur, other issues arise including; how do you achieve transparency between each tool, and how do you achieve easy reporting and analysis on each channel? If a business is solely focusing its efforts on the actual set up of a system and are unable to see the full picture, they run the risk of ignoring, and thereby potentially losing, the most important factor of all – the customer.
New omnichannel model on the block
For marketers to successfully engage today’s consumer, it is vital they have a centralised platform in place, one that is able to join up all popular communications platforms and provide flexible communication, through a single integrated hub. Fortunately, this can be achieved by choosing a messaging partner with a global reach that already has the omnichannel framework that’s needed in place, providing a one-stop-shop that effectively integrates messaging, user segments and reporting into one system.
One way of achieving this is through the Communications-Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) model, designed to overcome these challenges businesses face when looking to roll out omnichannel and offers an array of benefits to businesses. Being able to monitor, analyse and report on customer engagement is as important having a functioning and professional omnichannel messaging platform in place. If you don’t know, when, where and how individual customers prefer to be engaged, you are at risk of missing out on potential avenues for marketing and other business functions such as promotional messages or push notifications. The CPaaS model supports this by helping business to better manage their communication flow from initial user interaction, to customer feedback, and beyond.
Nowadays, new messaging services are regularly launched in line with the continual change in consumer demand. This is another area where the benefits of the CPaaS approach to omnichannel prevail over a brand’s attempt to introduce their own disparate, non-centralised solution. The CPaaS model can provide quick support for new platforms that are introduced – allowing highly efficient roll out of new solutions into a system, helping to meet consumer demand.
Furthermore, one of the other major challenges associated with managing multiple communication platforms is trying to deal with the potentially huge volume of customer messages. These can run into tens of millions on a daily basis for major brands and international businesses. An established messaging provider, with a reputation for handling large amounts of traffic that already has the infrastructure, messaging framework and an extensive network in place, can ensure messages will be delivered all over the globe.
Omnichannel and beyond
As we move into 2017, advances in technology and the myriad of communication channels now available to marketers will continue to fuel consumer demand. Omnichannel, in turn, will continue to thrive as result, and those who don’t embrace this approach certainly risk falling behind the curve.
Many brands and businesses are quick to talk about the benefits of adopting an omnichannel marketing approach. However, the wealth of communication channels now available can often pose a double-edged sword, and businesses can struggle to deploy a platform that is up to consumer expectations. As a result, the need for an integrated messaging platform, that manages all popular communication tools, including implementation, maintenance and management, has never been greater. By adopting the CPaaS model for their omnichannel needs, marketers can truly make this a reality and drive their marketing efforts to new heights.
By Kevin Britt, country manager UK and Ireland at Infobip
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