Ever had a marketing plan look great on paper… only to have it flop in real life?
It happens to all of us. Sometimes plans don’t match reality.
It’s especially easy to have this happen when conditions change fast. Like in digital marketing. Over the years, you may have developed an email marketing plan. A social media marketing plan. A website development plan… all sorts of plans for different channels.
Each channel has its own technology stack. Its own metrics, reporting, and creative requirements. And separate staff members responsible for the different channels.
If you’re lucky, all these different people and reporting systems talk to each other nicely. But more often than not, they don’t. And as the deadlines keep coming, and the technology keeps evolving, and new channels arrive every year (Hello, Facebook Messenger), it’s easy to get bogged down in the management of all this.
It’s easy to lose sight of your customers and prospects.
So maybe it’s time to step back from optimizing different tech stacks and trying to compare different types of KPIs.
Maybe it’s time to see all this from the view of the customer. To re-imagine our marketing, maybe we need to see this all through the eyes of our customers and prospects.
Because our customers are definitely not buying things through just one marketing channel anymore. They hop effortlessly from email to text messages, social media to telephone calls. They use televisions and iPads, laptops and phones - and often at the same time. Even back in 2015, most consumers were using at least three different channels every time they shopped.
Our customers are omnichannel now. A recent study by The Harvard Business Review found that 73% of a major retailer’s customers used multiple channels during their shopping journey.
So in order to build a better marketing machine, let's dive into the customer journey from the viewpoint of the customer.
What a multichannel buyer’s journey actually looks like in 2018
Let’s say Marci, a 33-year-old professional, is waiting at a restaurant for friends. She’s browsing Pinterest on her phone.
And comes across these earrings:
She clicks through to the earring’s web page and gets some details.
But then her friends arrive. The shopping experience is interrupted. She puts away her phone and forgets about the earrings.
That could have been the end of Marci’s interest. But thanks to retargeting, we can now show Marci those same earrings on many different websites.
She might even see an ad for them on several different sites over the next day.
She could also see the earrings again on social media. Maybe she even gets a personal message from the ecommerce site. At the very least, the retargeting ads continue to try to catch her attention.
So Marci is now seeing these ads all over. She is remembering the earrings several times a day. Finally, when the timing is right and she’s got a free moment, she clicks through again to the website.
An overlay on the product page offers her a 15% discount on her first order if she signs up for the email list.
That same layover could also ask her to sign up via Facebook Messenger. Or it could ask if she’d prefer text messages and ask for her mobile number.
If the marketer setting up these messages has a sophisticated multichannel tool, Marci may be asked for contact information for the specific channel she’s most likely to engage through. The tool will know not just what Marci is interested in - it will also know which channel she’s most likely to respond to.
Of course, the Marketing Manager may not even want to be this forward. Based on past conversion data, the marketer might know to not ask for contact information now. They might know they’ll have a better chance at closing the sale if they show Marci a positive user review of the earrings, or some product photos she might not have seen before.
What marketers want is to spark engagement; to deliver the right content via the right channel at the right time. And to do all that in a data-driven way.
Prompted by a personalized, well-timed message from a site she trusts, Marci might be happy to give her email address in exchange for the discount code. Let’s say she signs up for the list, and adds the item to her cart… and then gets a telephone call from a client.
The order is interrupted again.
After the call, Marci is focused on responding to the client. She is immediately dis-engaged from completing the order.
Fortunately for the marketer, they now have a new way to keep the conversation going.
They can keep showing the retargeting ads, but they may also send a cart abandonment email. This might go out within an hour of the item being placed in the cart, or after the cart has been left for a day – it depends on what the marketer has learned about which timing option converts best.
If the marketer asked for her mobile number as well, they could then send a text message to her as a reminder, too. This frees up Marci’s email inbox, and may be a welcome new channel for her to communicate with the retailer through.
Text messages are a particularly good channel for the marketer to try.
SMS messages get “open and response rates as high as 98% and 45%, respectively — in contrast to corresponding figures of 20% and 6% for email.”
If the Marketing Manager added a check box to connect with Marci via Facebook Messenger, they could reach her via that channel, too. Facebook Messenger messages are getting open rates as high as 88%, with 55% click-through rates.
Optimizing these sorts of digital channels with targeted, personalized messages can generate big returns.
They can help even small retailers stand out from the noise of their competition. A smart multichannel tool can be a major competitive edge.
And the marketer needs that edge. With so many offers competing for customers’ attention, combined with a decrease in brand loyalty, display ad fatigue, and the on/off nature of the customer journey, marketers need all the help they can get. But getting and keeping Marci's attention enough to have her finally choose those earrings and engage with the marketer’s messaging (thanks to the nice custom messages and the discount) can be achieved thanks to strategic multichannel retargeting.
With a little luck (and that multichannel retargeting), Marci will eventually be reminded at the right moment. She will complete the order.
Compare this to what would have happened if the marketer wasn’t doing multichannel marketing. That one initial visit to the ecommerce site might have been the end of Marci’s interest. She would have forgotten about those earrings the moment her friends showed up at the restaurant.
But even if the marketer was doing retargeting, the order would have been lost again – that client call interrupted her after she put the earrings in her cart.
As you surely know, cart abandonment quashes a lot of orders. Most of them, in fact. 69% of all ecommerce visitors abandon their shopping cart. Usually it’s not even because they’ve been interrupted.
The most typical reason people abandon an order is because of shipping costs.
But because the marketer had Marci’s email, they could set up their messaging system to circle back – at an opportune time – and waive those shipping fees. That leaves Marci (or any customer) with one less barrier to purchase.
But what if even that fails? What if Marci never opened that cart abandonment email? Or if she used a “junk” email account that she only uses for sales emails? Most people have more than one email account, and it’s expressly so they can send all their marketing emails to one place and keep their primary inbox clean.
Or maybe Marci liked - but didn’t totally love - those earrings. She might just delete the cart abandonment email as she culled through the 100-200 other emails that she gets every single day. She can’t be bothered with every single email message.
That’s why the marketer should have gotten her mobile number, and – if possible – asked to connect with her on Facebook Messenger, too. Both of these channels are relatively new, and so they’re less clogged.
Most of us don’t get 200 text messages per day. And we certainly don’t get them from retailers… much less a retailer we’ve very recently visited. If the text message is personalized enough to mention the particular set of earrings, there’s a good chance Marci will click on that text.
Even if she doesn’t, she’s likely to check in on Facebook at least once per day (and maybe many more times). If the ecommerce site has permission, the marketer can contact her through that channel.
Once they have her permission, they can include a photo of those earrings (maybe even a photo of a customer wearing them). Combine the photo and the immediacy of the message, along with the 15% discount, and the fact that those earrings are just waiting for her… that it’s just a couple more clicks and they could be hers … and Marci is likely to respond.
But even that isn’t the end of what can be done. If the other channels have been exhausted, and the item is worth enough to justify the cost (perhaps $360 earrings, instead of $36 earrings), then it’s possible to automate a call. To call Marci about those earrings and connect her directly to a customer service representative to complete her order.
This is why so many marketers want to do multichannel marketing. Because one channel simply isn’t enough. We need to be as fluent in multichannel as our customers are if we want to communicate with them effectively.
But can you easily set up a smart multichannel marketing strategy?
Cart abandonment events are the ideal opportunity to use these type of multichannel messages. Once someone has shown interest in a product, it’s worth a marketer’s time to try to turn that interest into a sale. It’s more efficient to send promotions and personalized messages to people who have already expressed interest.
But wait… there’s more. ;)
It’s also possible to also automate all this messaging. To set rules about when to send the messages, what discounts to offer, and which channels to follow-up through.
And if you can easily analyze your results? Better still.
With those types of controls, you can coordinate the messages so they’re not invasive or overwhelming. So you’re providing the right message, on the right channel, at the right time.
This is why so many marketers have been prioritizing personalization and targeting. It’s why they want to personalize and target in a way that optimizes conversions, and accommodates new channels like social media.
So while “multichannel campaign management” may be fourth of the list of the priorities from marketers in the study cited below, multichannel is actually a blend of all the areas mentioned before it. It is the total view of messaging to the customer; targeting the right prospects, personalizing our messages for them, and sending the right message at the right time through the right channel to optimize conversion rates.
And again - the best place to start with this new approach is when a customer leaves something in their shopping cart. The customer came so very close to placing that order, and so they are the single best people to market to. Out of everyone in a marketer’s database, they are the most likely people to buy.
So do you think multichannel marketing is worth a try? Could you get back more of your company’s lost carts?
Well, consider this: if you could convert even 20% of your abandoned cart events into sales, what would that do for your company’s revenue? What would it do for your profits?