New research sponsored by the HP and the DMA UK, in their first attitudinal print tracking report, shows that of the top 3 actions that consumers take after receiving direct mail from a brand that they are interested in, 44% visit the brand’s website. While this is great news for those interested in driving traffic to the home page of a brand, marketers who are paying attention realize that most of that traffic ends up lost in the maze of objectives that is the brand’s home page.
Marketing blogs have created an Inbound vs.outbound marketing war. Both are effective when executed successfully. Good marketing works regardless of whether the channel is focused inward or outward.
Mark Johnson of Loyalty 360 wrote a great blog post recently titled “Reflections from the “Back of the Bus” – The Changing Face of Loyalty, To Shutter or not to Shutter, and the Connected Vacation!” that focused on how the concept of customer loyalty is rapidly evolving in the B2C marketing world. In his piece, he details the recent announcements of complete changes or actual closing of long standing loyalty programs from several major national and international brands. At first blush, it would seem as though the message to consumers, and especially the members of said programs is either that the program isn’t working well or we (the brand) no longer value your loyalty.
Of course, all brands will state that they value loyalty. Who wouldn’t want customers who have developed some sort of long term attachment, or even dare we say “faith” in a brand and what its position and essence stand for? Yet, as is often the case in modern B2C marketing, the programs that are developed to attract and reward loyalty end up as transactional, siloed, stagnate and disconnected from the things that truly create loyalty – experiences that fulfill a brand’s mission and that delight the specific customers to whom the brand is trying to appeal to. How many cards can a consumer possibly carry around? How many “programs” can they eep track of, and is it really important to their lives to do so? As the consumer world has become always connected, multi or omni-channelled and socially surrounded with all of our technology, traditional reward programs look (and feel with piles of plastic) relics from an era when brands where more in control of consumer thinking & behavior. It is no wonder that brands on the move are re-thinking the basic premise of these programs, and seeking ways to develop customer loyalty through new means.
When viewed through the lense of the multi-channel marketer, a loyalty program that is disconnected from current campaigns as well as the brands broader web, mobile and social strategies is a big problem. It is probably rewarding behavior that isn’t keeping pace with where the brand is trying to go, and it probably isn’t reaching the consumers that the brand is trying to influence. Loyalty shouldn’t be thought of as a “channel” or a “program”. If it is important to a brand, it ought to be a concept that pervades every contact point with the brand’s target consumers, always sitting in the background, ready to create situations where the brand experience exceeds expectations. Strategy, campaigns and execution through media and technology platforms need to support this new type of “Loyalty Everywhere” type of thinking, or run the risk of being disrupted.
Multichannel Marketing < Cross Channel Marketing < Omni Channel Marketing
We in the marketing tech business need to make up new buzzwords periodically, so that we can ensure ourselves the enviable position of describing what we do to civilians (non marketing tech types) at parties and getting that blank stare back and nod back (body signal begging you to not try to explain what you just said). When buzzwords start to get stale, the litany of thought leaders, bloggers, analysts and marketing tech marketers have little to expound upon, upcoming marketing campaigns start to look a little old, and everyone in the marketing tech world gets a bit antsy.
Everyone should be prepared for the latest in marketing tech buzz – Omni Channel Marketing. Our friends at Gleanster Research (always a great resource for interesting thinking about business tech) have recently posted as good of an explanation of how the concepts of marketing across multiply channels have evolved over the past few years with their recent blog post: Buzzword Du Jour: Omni-Channel Marketing
Essentially, Omni channel marketing (to hyphen or not to hyphen, that is the question) tweaks the Multi channel marketing concept to include in its meaning that brands ought to be engaging with customers & prospects in the channel(s) that the customer prefers to engage in, when they prefer to engage in those channels, and that all channel content creation, management and measurement ought to be driven from a planned, centralized repository. As online channels continue to proliferate (now we need to be on Pinterest? Vine? What next?), it isn’t hard to see how branding & campaign management can become siloed, non integrated and isolated. Hardly the vision of “any channel any time” that most marketers are dreaming of.
Boingnet has long held the belief that consumers, prospects and customers only want to interact with brands on a holistic, integrated basis. If a prospect sees a marketing piece (regardless of channel) and then visits a corporate website (designed by all of the stakeholders of a company), he or she is probably lost. Campaigns are efforts designed to accomplish something within a specific timeframe. Why shouldn’t campaign specific websites be quickly and easily deployed to support the objectives of the campaign, and then taken down when the campaign is complete? Websites don’t have to be massive, expensive and difficult projects. With Boingnet v2, we’ll be making the idea of “Omni Channel marketing” a lot closer to reality for marketers.