Hitting the Right Rhythm for Omnichannel Success

In a review of his customer experience with Nike, Orkiv founder and CEO Alex Senn makes an excellent case for what “omnichannel retail should look like.” While helping a friend purchase a new pair of shoes from a Nike store on Newbury Street in Boston, MA, Alex learned that Nike knows how to please its customers by delivering an exceptional shopping experience. Alex showcases how Nike delivers an effective omnichannel customer experience by:

  • Relying on immersive branding and cross-channel messaging in their stores and online.
  • Pushing customers to the Nike.com website in their product displays in retail stores.
  • Allowing customers to purchase shoes online from a showroom store via their NikeID programs.
  • Integrating their website and in-store branding, providing a consistent visual and user experience by using similar products and colors in the display of products.
  • Allowing customers to procure a product “everywhere,” from multiple channels regardless of which channel they purchase it in, with a “frictionless checkout” process.
  • Leveraging store staff to operate in the capacity of what he calls “omnichannel closers.”

And, of course, each of these areas requires specific and customer-centric content to support a more seamless customer experience.

These are just a few of the highlights mentioned in his detailed and thoughtful article. The key takeaway? Nike has delivered an effective omnichannel customer experience and in doing so, they “increased customer confidence” and customer loyalty.

Our previous blog posts are focused on how to think through the critical steps necessary for operational readiness when one considers an omnichannel content strategy. This blog post focuses on hitting the correct rhythm, so an organization can maintain and evolve an effective content strategy. Here we examine the resources necessary to support ongoing omnichannel efforts and what you need to drive towards success.

Determining the Calculus for the Correct Resources

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”
Red Adair

The right resources can make an omnichannel solution, and vice versa. In the previous blog post, we examined the various functional areas required for an omnichannel framework (Components of Success). When planning to assemble the necessary resources, you need to represent all areas within those considerations, or you won’t have a robust omnichannel solution. Your content will suffer. To quickly survey those areas again, you will need talented people in the following areas: business strategy; customer experience and audience experts (including, UX, user insights, research, etc.); content strategy, creation and maintenance teams; operations; legal; financial teams; technology; and last but far from least, data and analytics. Within these, you will require subject matter experts in personalization, customer profiling and customer experience, not to mention specific channel expertise—web, mobile, in-store, or disciplines such as SEO, and social media. Additionally, folks and content to execute the training that goes into supporting an effective sales force and customer-facing representatives. To put it mildly, you will need a deep bench of talent and expertise to stand up a successful omnichannel experience with meaningful and relevant content.

And yes, all of that really is necessary. It requires an investment in not just resources, but great resources—talent and expertise—to pull it off without issues. If all of that is overwhelming, take it as motivation to do due diligence in the strategic planning of your change campaign.

The first, most obvious, but often most difficult question to answer is: Do you have the resources necessary to implement an omnichannel initiative, and the means and executive buy-in for budgetary support over multiple years? Do you have the right mix of resources internally, and do they have the time, expertise, or capacity in their workweek to learn about omnichannel execution? Coming up with answers to these questions can prepare your organization for success. Have you considered that omnichannel is largely a content solution that requires new types of content and the modification of existing content to support it? It also requires optimized content production and publication workflows, which may or may not mean new systems such as a content management system.

Graphic listing types of content systems.

Look at the tech stack contextually.

Although you may have the right mix of resources, the next area to look at is the operational set up required to facilitate the necessary work. Internal operations should reflect and support the cross-channel customer experience and leverage the customer lifecycle to inform the business process and the necessary requirements to feed the technology stack. Take for example, content publishing workflows.  Examine and analyze the customer journey for each type of content. Next, revisit your content lifecycles or workflows for each type of content. Working backwards from the customer journey, build or optimize your workflows in a manner that will support the customers’ needs. Remember to include every user target: sales (internal, distributor) and the end user (the customer). Don’t forget to align your sales content with your marketing messaging.  Identify all content necessary to support the cross-channel customer experience, even if you cannot deliver on all of it at your initial launch. Finally, build performance into the entire content lifecycle model. By using customer journeys in developing an operational model for content, you will ensure that your content is customer-centric.

Building an Outcome from Meaningful Metrics

Tom Redman (AKA Dr. Data) has for years advocated for getting data out of IT departments and putting it into marketing or creating a separate domain for it. He also supports casting a wide, comprehensive net—including quantitative and qualitative data—to create meaningful outcomes from analytics. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, he writes: “Putting data to work includes the whole sequence, from data to insight to profit.” What does this mean for omnichannel? It means you need a performance-driven model that wraps itself around the customer experience and journey. This solution begins with defining objectives that are customer-centric and have impact at the business or brand level, rather than the singular channel level.

According to Hyundai CMO Dean Evans, clear metrics translated into defining the most important KPI’s—store visits and sales, and then looking at how “a digital campaign impacts the number of store visits, and how many are converting into sales. This information is so much more important to us than, say, tracking a single click or engagement with an ad.” Traditional marketing metrics, such as number of customers, number of sales, coupled with brand metrics such as brand amplification, user engagement with the brand, and loyalty to a brand are absolutely necessary to measure performance within the omnichannel experience. Which channels push the customer from one stage to the next in their relationship with the brand, and which micro-interactions within each channel are necessary for that result, should also be measured. The key here is starting with objectives that are enterprise-wide and meaningful to the entire organization and looking vis-à-vis the customer relationship with the brand.

Measuring cross-channel metrics is the greatest challenge for businesses, along with reporting and reacting on these in a relevant manner. For content, this means measuring the performance within and across various channels, so a business can make decisions for future content priorities. Although no tool can do this without some issues, a whole industry is developing called customer data platforms to deliver on more robust, federated customer profiles in ways that allow for real-time personalization. Make sure you have reporting dashboards in place before executing an omnichannel strategy, as these will validate the story you want to tell about business impact and can require much more effort than is apparent at first glance.

Driving for Success and Ensuring Future Sustainability

Our previous blog posts provided you the key ingredients necessary when contemplating an effective omnichannel content strategy. As you think about how to evolve your omnichannel approach, remember that it will always rely on customer-centricity. Tracking customer success and creating objectives that can deliver that will keep your priorities focused. Just as Dean Evans notes about Hyundai’s approach, objectives should predicate success on impact to the overall business. Remember to look at the KPIs and objectives within each channel and business group, and work with each to define a unified, holistic approach. Channel-specific objectives should derive from omnichannel objectives or at least complement each.

Omnichannel engagements require strong content strategy frameworks to support them. This means you should have an enterprise content strategy that looks at all customer-facing content and supports it through a performance-driven framework. As you measure the performance of your omnichannel efforts, ensure those results tie back to your content performance strategy. Leverage ongoing audits to measure your content’s success and improve it for the future.

A few final thoughts to help you along the way. Although omnichannel is complex and requires an enterprise focus, start small and build on the success. Try to boil the ocean and you will fail. Start with a single initiative and build on its success. For example: create an integrated product inventory—purchase a product online and pick it up in a store, or a single view of the customer at point of purchase regardless of channel. And finally, follow the blueprint we outline in our previous posts, and you will find that although complex, an omnichannel content strategy is not impossible to define to achieve.

To learn more, join us on March 14 for a live webinar about Omnichannel: The New Value Driver. Register here.