The central role of digital channels in the Omni-channel world

The original version of the chart below was created by Kevin Cavanaugh back in Unica days (Kevin’s now CTO at Allant Group). Still to date it’s one of the most popular pieces of thought leadership content I carry around with me on my USB drive everywhere I go. Folks in the audience often take pictures of this during presentations.

What it shows is that customers engage with our companies through so many channels and that some of these channels are more likely to be used during certain times in the customer lifecycle. For example, after learning about a brand via mass media commercials a prospect might grab their tablet to learn more about the product and then ultimately call the call center to ask further questions and sign up or purchase.

Channels of interaction over course of the Lifecycle

Channels of interaction over course of customer life cycle

Yet, over the years there has been a dramatic change. Kevin originally created this chart to visualize how critical it is to integrate online and offline channels for successful customer strategies. That is also how the chart was introduced in my book in 2008.

But today when you look at the chart you see an expanded number of digital channels at the heart of it. Digital is slowly taking over the chart. And the #1 take away from the chart today isn’t the online-offline integration anymore.

Rather, it’s that digital channels in themselves are an Omni-channel world ranging from website to tablet, phone, email, ad networks, social media networks, etc. Many of the most successful digital marketers today tie these digital channels together for continuous customer engagement. When a customer drops off from one channel, they continue the dialog with the customer on the next channel that he or she comes back on. That is assuming that the customer has at some point authenticated on each channel or device so he or she can be identified again.

Optimizing each of the channels and devices is bread & butter. But optimizing how they play together — that’s the Nutella on top.

One fun anecdote is that back when Kevin first created this chart we had question marks for the role of mobile in the customer lifecycle because the smartest phone around was still the Blackberry back then. It wasn’t clear at all back then how mobile would be used in the customer life cycle. Boy have we come a long way since then. Mobile is everywhere now.

Digital marketing lessons learned from IBM’s annual customer conference

IBM’s Smarter Commerce Global Summit Nashville just completed May 21-23. Hundreds of speakers shared their best practices and lessons learned.

What were some of the key takeaways for digital marketers and analysts? Surprise lessons? The hot trends of the times?

I asked a few of the digital marketing thought leaders that were in attendance. Here is what they observed.

Bryan Eisenberg – Author and “Use the Data” Expert

The biggest takeaway for me was how one of the large department store customers of IBM’s has expanded their use of data and integrated analytics across the physical and digital channels. It was great to see how stores can begin to leverage the insights that the online team has and vice versa to create better experiences cross-channel for their customers.

Sameer Khan, Rackspace Senior Digital Marketing Manager and Blogger at Keywebmetrics.com

My biggest takeaway was how IBM is making cross-channel marketing a reality with its marketing solutions. It also was interesting to learn about the cutting edge digital personalization campaigns possible using Tealeaf’s revolutionary behavioral analytics. Last but not least, the transformation of marketing attribution to statistically-significant outcomes leads us one step closer to real time budgeting by knowing which efforts truly deserve credit for downstream sales.

Mike Niemann, IBM Digital Marketing Optimization, Product Management

The predominance of omni-channel as not just a buzzword but a concept that many are really beginning to embrace and tackle was something I saw again and again. Moving from the concept of multi-channel, where the emphasis was more focused on simply getting a brand’s presence extended to various new and emerging channels, toward omni-channel, where a true understanding of customer experiences across mobile devices, interaction channels, and social networks, can really begin to allow marketers to offer a consistent and personalized experience. The business goal is to get to marketing that feels like a service, i.e. is a “youtility” as keynote speaker Jay Baer put it.

Chris Hogan’s quote from Margaret Getchell (one of, if not the, first women executives in retail) from back in the late 1800′s really stands out as being totally relevant in the digital age we live in today: “Be everywhere, do everything, and never fail to astonish the customer”

Bill Bruno, CEO, Stratigent

My #1 take away from the event is that IBM is very focused on building a product suite that truly is integrated and that can provide incredible power to the marketers looking to build customized and unique experiences for their customers. If you think further about how the capabilities from IBM Watson can expand the possibilities, you’re talking about a game-changing ability to make sense of data to identify key personas/segments for optimization efforts.

Aubrey Rupp, IBM Digital Marketing Optimization, Product Management

Own the customer experience. We need to stop thinking about digital and physical as two separate things and capitalize on the magic that happens when we can combine them. We can use this knowledge to maximize the moments with customers, creating a personal experience for each customer and treat them as the unique individuals that they are.

“Sri” Viswanath Srikanth, IBM Standards and chair of the W3C Customer Experience Digital Data Community Group

My top takeaways were that enterprise marketers are continuing to look for ease of use for their solutions, best-of-breed technologies (as opposed to becoming a single vendor or single platform house), are intrigued by the possibilities around open technologies (open source/open standards), and continue to see a convergence of mobile, social, cloud and analytics worlds impacting their space.

Blair Reeves, IBM Digital Marketing Optimization, Product Marketing Management

The emphasis has shifted from channel-specific, or even context-specific, strategies to a broader view – the omni-channel view. Or, in other words, we are going “from digital marketing to customer intelligence.” I think the term “customer intelligence” really captures what we mean by both omni-channel and Smarter Commerce – connected customers engaging via channels they choose, and expecting a compelling experience.

Leah Paschall, IBM Digital Marketing Optimization, Product Marketing Management

I couldn’t say it any better than the journalists at Forbes who described the biggest challenges facing marketers in a recent article. The article is based on the recent IBM State of Marketing 2013 survey of which a sneak preview was shared with customers in Nashville.

Michelle Kiss and John Lovett, Web Analytics Demystified

And finally, this Blogger

What do all the brilliant digital marketers and analysts that I got a chance to learn about in Nashville have in common, for example Chris HoganEric HooverEwald HoppenInna DrutLisa LanganJennifer StinchcombMichael LaHueNancy FlintSameer KhanVenkata Duvvuri? When they speak, you hear the love for data in their voices. You hear the passion of turning data into better customer experiences. It reminds me of how the owner of a small corner store truly wants to take care of his or her customers and make them better off while looking out for business at the same time.

 

This article is cross posted from the Smarter Commerce blog.

Announcing Speakers at IBM’s 2013 USA Customer Summit, May 21-23

Prefer SaaS or On-Premises for your digital analytics and marketing technology solutions?

What deployment model should marketers prefer for their digital analytics and other marketing software technology solutions that support their efforts? Should they pick:

  • Cloud based solutions i.e. Software as a Service (SaaS)?
  • Ground based solutions for on-premises deployment?
  • or hybrid models that combine the two options?,

Of course, the answer is “it depends”.

So the guest blog post on  the Smarter Commerce blog has my two most important pieces of advice on how to explore SaaS vs. On Premises when you choose between them for your company. This was posted on the occasion of the recent IBM Marketing Center product release. That one is a cloud based product which prompted this question on deployment models.

Link to the post

Announced today: IBM Marketing Center

IBM today announced the new IBM Marketing Center — an all-in-one solution that combines digital analytics data with real-time marketing execution. Marketing Center provides A/B testing, website personalization, email marketing, and more.

For more information and to download the data sheet see the product’s web page at ibm.com/marketing-solutions.

What I find most exciting here is that digital analytics and marketing are glued together in a single application: i.e. there is no room for a chasm between analytics and action anymore!

Smarter Commerce – how companies reap synergies between Buy, Market, Sell, Services

This video is about – what I think is – the most interesting idea in IBM’s Smarter Commerce vision. Namely, synergies that companies can reap from sharing customer-centric insights between their Supply Chain, Marketing, Selling, and Services teams.

Compared to the previous post, I raised it up a notch to be more specific about the tried & true vs. more novel tactics that are used in each corner of the business. Unlike the previous video though no muppets are to be found in this one.

IBM’s Smarter Commerce explained in terms a 5 year old could understand

They say, if you can’t explain something in a simple and clear way, maybe you don’t understand what you are talking about. So … I was asking myself … could I explain IBM’s Smarter Commerce portfolio of solutions (which include Unica, Coremetrics, Tealeaf, DemandTec, Sterling, iLog, Websphere, etc. products) in such simple terms that even my five year old would understand.

I think I can, and here it is: