Understanding Omni-channel marketing

Cross-Channel, Omni-Channel, Multi-Channel -- all these are jargons you here in today's world especially when the discussion is around digital space. Often when we say omni channel or cross channel, we refer to the various digital  channels available for promotion of content. A recent discussion with one of the leading market players in omni-channel customer experience domain poked my interest to learn more about this industry.

What is Omni-Channel customer experience?


You get digital product shelves at a super market instead of actual ones. Customers scan the product they want using QR code. At the end of shopping, the products are delivered automatically at the cash counter! That's omni channel customer experience. You think this is a fiction? Check this video of how Tesco created a virtual supermarket in South Korea.



So Omni channel is not (just) the regular digital marketing; its about utilizing digital platforms for enhancing customer experience - be it store experience, promotional channels, post sales encounters. As you might have guesses, retail is the industry that has spearheaded this notion. With mobile becoming the new platform for everything starting from purchase to social networking; Omni-channel marketing has paved way for retailers to creatively engage with customers  and induce purchase behavior. True omni-channel marketing may start from analyzing present customer purchase behavior to call center integration to comprehensive using integrated marketing communications channels to in-store/kiosks based options. The core to managing an omni channel marketing is setting up a foundation for data flow through-out.

How do you design an omni-channel customer experience?


Starting point is to chart our the customer journey. Moments of truth or consumer touch points along the journey is another factor to bring in. Understanding the touch points is crucial to tweak the expeiecnce a consumer may encounter with (it may be technical as a mobile app or very old attitude of store manager!) Social and digital channels have moved away customer journey from a linear path to a convoluted one.  The second aspect to omni-channel marketing is providing a consistent experience through out - be it the messaging or branding. Clubbing online and offline channels to complement each other is the key. I consider omni-channel marketing to be a culmination of personalization, digital and offline experience.

Book Review Who are you really and what do you want ?

Who are you really and what do you want ? is a self help book written by Dr. Shad Helmstetter. Once again, the jazzy title of the book attracted me to read the book; but I wasn't disappointed. It's a light read written in simple language without much beating around the bush.


This book don't directly talk about finding your passion, being positive etc; but indirectly tries to convey the same message. The core aspect the author tries to bring forward is that we can achieve our dreams through proper goal setting and with the help of a coach.

Essentially, the author talks about three pillars to success --

1.    Fine tuning our self talk. Understanding how our own sub conscious self talk is affecting us - positively or negatively. One third of the book is devoted on how to listen actively to our self talk, how to make it productive/positive to ourselves and do away with negative thoughts. This step is considered as the foundation step to understand what you want and how to achieve them. What I really liked is that some of the ideas he mention like the questionnaire to find out where we stand, writing down what we self-think, trying to reword or counter the negative self talk etc. If you have read Prof.Sreekumar Rao's Are You Ready to Succeed; this is similar to the mental models he talks about.

2.    Active goal setting. Second part of the book is devoted to making goal setting the right way. I believe the discussion points are standard ones that you may see in other goal setting literature. Having said that, if you are actively thinking about improving your goal setting; this book would be the only one required. Some of the points, author stresses are - writing down the goals, putting time lines, obstacles etc. He has put out a good framework of eight steps to identify if the goal is the right one. The author also provide a list of ten areas and sample goals in each for the reader to consider taking up.

3.   Finding a mentor or coach. The last part of the book emphasize on the importance of professional coaching and finding the right mentor. While reading this part, I felt it more marketing coaching services; but in a way I agree that having a buddy, mentor or coach helps in fine tuning our path and achieve the goals - be it personal or professional. I really liked the questions he provides in this part as those which may come from a coach.

Overall , a good book and I recommend it. A word of caution that you may find the principles repetitive if you are an avid reader of self help literature (also most of the online resources mentioned in the book are not accessible)

Digital Marketing Trends in 2016

This is the time when everyone talks about what to expect in 2016 - be it Stock Markets, Business or Astrology! Predictions, suggestions, thoughts and cautionary notes come out. Here are my five top things, which I think will dominate in the marketing world….what do you think?


Accelerated Content Marketing


This is nothing new; from inbound to content - content has become the driving factor when it comes to online marketing. I believe this will continue to be the area of thrust with Digital Marketers continuing to invest in creative content deliveries to attract customers.

Focus on Influencer Marketing


Again not a new concept (and perhaps a subset of content marketing); but for sure to explode in 2016. Influencer Marketing (or Brand Advocates or whatever jazzy name you give) will be something businesses will need to concentrate more and careful selection for the platforms - be it YouTube, Snapchat or something will be critical to success (dirtying your hands on all may not be the right way to go).

Increased Mobile Focus


I remember in my previous company, we used to go behind Mobile as a holy grail; I believe that will continue and Mobile may become the de facto standard for businesses to start with - be it an app, mobile site, or advertising. This will be even more important with search engines giving importance to mobile over desktop (with app indexing etc.)

Personalization


I remember the first days of sending personalized emails (it was a great feeling!). Today personalization has reached to a new level. We can have personalized campaigns, messaging and what not - that too at scale. Personalization is not just limited to emails or eCommerce (where you see the recommendations based on purchase or browsing behavior), it can be creatively used anywhere - be it your website or during offline events. Accelerated use of mobile devices also helps in personalizing content.

Technology Overtake


Technology will be the driving factor and continue to change the landscape. Sometimes while interacting with media planning teams, I wonder whether I talking to marketers to technologists :) Industry experts also predict, we can continue to see a lot of consolidation in the market. Hoping to see a lot less cluttered lumascapes!

Finally here are two articles on the same topic which I believe covers a lot of depth asks some thought-provoking questions.

Happy New Year!

And thus ends yet another year. 2015 was truly a roller coaster ride with too many twists and turns. Though it was an eventful and a stressful one, it had its own fun moments too! It was a low on professional front, and a decent one on personal front. Hoping for a great year ahead.... 


2015 took me closer to analytics, data science and what not....hoping to fine tune the focus a bit on that in 2016. More on it in future posts. 2016 will mark 9 years of entering workforce, 6 years of association with IIMB, 5 years with marketing, 3 years as an MBA and 3 years of married life :)





After its start in 2010, this blog went to a sleep mode for some time, before I started blogging with full pace again this year. PGSEM is no more; and is being re-branded to PGPEM (with a complete makeover of program structure itself). The theme of the blog has shifted from a B School diary to more on digital marketing. I am hoping to keep my writing on business and marketing this year with few ones on MBA and B School in between.

Hope you all had a good year and enjoyed the holidays. Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous new year! May all your wishes come true in 2016!