Omni-Channel Engagement Trending for 2017

Aggregating data seen as key to tapping into tremendous potential 
by Mike Hunter

shutterstock_513650119Online-offline connected experiences will be the focus in 2017 as chief marketers, largely not satisfied with the current state of omni-channel engagement, work toward bridging that disconnect. According to a recently released study from the Chief Marketing Officer Council, one of the biggest challenges for marketers in 2017 will be understanding the connected customer journey across all touchpoints and how best to interact on a more personal, content-rich level.

Connected Interaction to Power Brand Attraction reports that, while digital engagement continues to grow and dominate the customer experience, marketers believe there’s a long way to go to deliver on the big promise of true omni-channel alignment across both digital and physical worlds. Of the marketers surveyed, 38 percent feel that digital strategies have delivered mixed results to date. This is especially the case when it comes to bridging the physical and digital customer experiences — 49 percent of marketers stated that alignment between physical and digital is selective at best, with some ties between the two being made while many remain totally disconnected.

Noting that “an organization can’t ‘reach’ digital as an end point of a project,” the report explains, “There is no digital finish line, where the work is suddenly done and marketers can sit back and marvel at the transformation. The shift to digital is two-fold:  a shift in buyer behavior that has fundamentally changed where, how and when customers are choosing to engage and transact coupled with a shift in business behavior that has fundamentally changed where, how and when organizations are connected both internally and externally.”

Recognizing that the shift to digital experiences has invigorated customer engagements, the report explores the many ways digital transformation has impacted marketing and the organization’s ability to grow and profit from expanded relationships with customers. “Savvy CMOs don’t see digital as a destination for transformation but instead see the digital experience as a constantly moving evolution for both engagements and operations,” notes Liz Miller, senior vice president of marketing for the CMO Council. “The year ahead will represent a real turning point in the customer experience as marketers plan to turn their sights toward connecting, streamlining and measuring the entire journey.”

Among the challenges iterated by those surveyed, though, is a need for aggregated data that is pulled from across the entire organization; a full 43 percent of marketers say digital has revealed cracks in systems as data is difficult to aggregate and centralize for a clear view of the customer.

Changing Engagement

How has the shift to digital experiences most changed how your organization engages with customers and prospects?

Altered content strategies and heightened the need for more types and formats of content:  60%
Heightened the need for aggregated data that is pulled from across the entire company:  44%
Revealed cracks in organizations’ systems as data is difficult to aggregate and centralize for a clear view of the customer:  43%
Tuned the organizations’ customer engagement into a 24/7 opportunity to connect with customers:  38%
Made managing how and where customers want to engage, learn and transact incredibly complex and difficult to keep up with:  33%
Lowered costs and improved the impact of organizations’ marketing investments:  29%
Accelerated the sales cycle, moving organizations’ prospects quickly from first inquiry to qualified lead and opportunity:  17%
Created silos across the organization that unintentionally segment traditional, in-person and digital experiences:  11%

Top Digital Experience Goals for the Coming Year

Better connect campaigns into a comprehensive, connected experience that drives engagement throughout the engagement lifecycle:  42%
Tie the entire customer experience journey together across both physical and digital engagements:  37%
Bring on additional resources and technologies to better manage data, initiatives and experience automation:  29%
Establish a company-wide initiative around optimizing customer experience through all touchpoints and channels:  28%
Re-focus attention on digital experience as a loyalty and advocacy driver, not just an acquisition engine:  26%
Engage in more two-way experiences with customers, engaging in real time in a highly personalized manner:  25%
Re-think channels that are failing to engage customers in ways that are meaningful for the customer and for the business:  23%
Advance the organization’s capabilities in advanced analytics, including predictive analytics and real-time learning:  23%
Ensure that data, analytics and customer intelligence programs are not limited to marketing, but embraced across the organization to influence everything from product to pricing:  22%
Develop a comprehensive digital experience map that reaches outside of marketing to catalog all customer touchpoints, including those owned by channels, resellers and partners:  17%

Budgeting for the Solution

According to marketers, the top areas for budget allocation will surround specific campaign drivers. The top ones named by in the CMO Council’s Connected Interaction to Power Brand Attraction study are:

Content marketing development and deployment:  59%
Matric and analytics to measure campaign performance:  48%
Social media (advertising and engagement campaigns):  47%
Data management (including data cleansing, aggregation and collection):  39%
Digital advertising (including retargeting, asset management and placement):  33%

Source: cmocouncil.org/authority-leadership/reports/318

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