Though digital marketing isn’t exactly new, the space continues to evolve with breakneck speed, keeping companies on their toes as they grow to meet consumer demand. But, with an expanding assortment of data points to monitor and act upon, digital marketers have reached the stage where centralization is no longer recommended—it’s critical for long-term survival.
For years, marketers have romanticized the notion of an omnichannel experience. Many talk about breaking down the departmental silos that hinder progress, yet few have actually allowed their actions to speak louder than words. Essentially, more often than not, this unified approach to customer experience and data collection remains just out of reach as internal struggles cause strategies to stagnate. Experian Marketing Services’ “The 2014 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Report” highlights that, of those digital marketers polled, 39 percent say their company’s current technology infrastructure remains the top barrier between them and an effective omnichannel strategy, with organizational structure (38 percent) and budget restrictions (38 percent) close behind. Thus, as companies look toward an integrated future, marketers must break free from the confines of their current stasis.
When it comes to data centralization, organizations must invest in the integrated technologies that enable marketers to be more efficient and effective as they work to bring actionable decision making to the fore. Ideally, companies will have such an infrastructure in place from the start, for those who fail to implement said systems at the beginning will only suffer as they fight an uphill battle with regard to resource decisions, siloed information, and enterprisewide inefficiencies. Unfortunately, however, many must back step in their journeys toward digital proficiency, for few have the ability to blend incoming data across the entire enterprise.
Digital, of course, doesn’t operate within a vacuum, for these various channels have become an integral element of the overall customer experience. Consumers move in and out, alternating between both digital and traditional channels as they engage with brands on their own terms throughout the buying journey. Marketers are well aware that customers rarely view each channel interaction separately, as most individuals regard such engagement as merely another mode of communication linking them and the brand in question. Therefore, companies must also approach their marketing strategy in the same manner in order to create the seamless omnichannel experience customers have come to expect.
Data centralization, though difficult to achieve retroactively, will soon be the defining factor between success and failure. The companies that can best interpret Big Data and cross-reference all offline and online customer interactions will successfully enable omnichannel personalization. Linking and centralizing such data as web analytics, social feeds, emails, and search terms with call center detail purchase history, product reviews, and phone numbers will help companies pave the way for improving the customer experience and building trust.
Those companies that have taken the necessary steps to achieve integration will find themselves on the winning side of this uphill battle, for they understand that such strategies are vital for the brand’s survival. Those that continue to operate within the siloed walls of their organization will only find a world of hurt ahead, for they will never be able to truly gather, analyze, and act upon customer data in a holistic manner that takes every cross-channel interaction into account. Thus, the 360-degree customer view once desired by all will fall to the wayside for said marketers again as they neglect to implement crucial strategy changes.
Marketers who leverage digital platforms to enhance and grow customer relationships will see the greatest uptick in success as they employ an omnichannel strategy to collect and bring centralized data to action via customer service and problem resolution. However, said marketers must also keep in mind that, while data collection and centralized data are essential, not every touchpoint will yield information that pertains to the brand’s bottom line. Through constant testing and strategy reconfiguration, marketers can establish an effective engagement plan that beats right alongside the pulse of customer growth and demand.
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