We made it! This is the final article in our Winning Customer Loyalty series. In this series, which expands on our webinar, “Hot or Not: The 2022 Imperatives For Winning The Loyalties Of Today’s Consumers,” featuring Forrester’s Brendan Witcher, we’ve touched upon taking the customer experience from good to great, hyper-adoption vs. hyper-abandonment, individualization, and the value of data and analytics. The final piece? Tying all of these together to create a seamless cross-channel experience.
Call it omnichannel marketing, multi-channel marketing, or cross-channel marketing, but the gist is that customers can bounce from channel-to-channel without any hiccups in their buying journey. If a customer is mid-checkout on their phone via your app, but then drops off, they should be able to log on to their desktop computer at home and complete the order.
We’re no strangers to a frictionless experience across marketing channels. But we want to explore how this type of cross-channel experience can impact customer loyalty.
Be Where the Customer Is, Physically
One of the biggest benefits of a cross-channel experience is that your brand has the ability to be with the customer, wherever they are. Approximately 6.5 billion people worldwide have smartphones, so being able to connect with customers through mobile channels—like SMS, push notifications, or in-app messages—is crucial.
“We can buy things when we’re at a subway stop…not the restaurant, the actual subways. The ability to do anything anywhere: on a plane I can order on a screen in front of me when I land at the airport; this is getting more complicated, not less.”
– Brendan Witcher
With geolocation capabilities, you can create content for customers based on their surroundings, connecting the physical with the digital. While a critical ingredient, mobile capabilities aren’t enough to establish a seamless cross-channel marketing strategy.
Being where the customer is means more than physical location. Mobile can give you access to customers as they move around, but you also have to be where the customer is, mentally. Think about all of the steps in a customer journey.
Meeting the Customer on Their Journey
Understanding the customer journey is a necessary element when using multiple marketing channels. Whether just becoming familiar with your brand or contemplating an item in their cart, the customer is looking for a tailored experience that matches where they are in their buying journey. Matching the customer’s intent, regardless of marketing channel, is how you can create a truly frictionless cross-channel experience.
Based on interactions with your brand, your marketing technology should be able to collect data that paints a picture of where each individual customer is in the buying process. Maybe they’ve visited the site a few times, read the FAQs, and then browsed a certain product category. You can tell from their virtual breadcrumbs that they’re in the consideration stage.
Rather than just sending a generic promotional email at this point, you’re now equipped with the data to send a triggered, personalized promotional email based on the actions this customer has taken on your site. They browsed a certain category? The next time they look at that category page, automatically send them an email with items in that category and maybe even include a coupon to help sweeten the deal.
The right data can tell you not only where the customer is within their journey, but where they are engaging with your marketing messages. When you bring the marketing channels and the buying journey together, your brand has the ability to create a one-of-a-kind experience that will keep customers coming back.
Combining the Marketing Channel and the Buying Journey
Let’s compare a digital cross-channel experience to walking into a physical store. When you, as a customer, are shopping and speak to a salesperson and tell them everything you’re looking for and, later, after the first salesperson has helped you, a second salesperson comes up asking if you need help. It’s frustrating. Shouldn’t the two salespeople be communicating? Now think of the salespeople as marketing channels. They should be talking to each other and creating a customer profile that recognizes you and your needs, not only the first time you enter the store, but every time. That is how brands build customer relationships.
What does this look like in a fully digital experience? Say a customer puts an item in their cart in your mobile app. Then, your brand sends a promotional email with a coupon for that item. When clicked, the CTA in that email should open the application, open the cart, and apply the promo code—all at the same time. Here, your brand recognizes the customer is about to complete their purchase and you’re fully aware of the channel they are comfortable using.
That being said, if the customer chooses to log on to your desktop site, their shopping cart needs to be identical to their cart in your mobile app, and, if they click the CTA in the promotional email from their desktop, the same rules should apply. Regardless of when and how a customer is connecting with your brand, they are able to achieve what they need to and are recognized as a single customer across channels. This is a true cross-channel experience.
Winning Customer Loyalty with a Cross-Channel Experience
A cross-channel experience boils down to personalization. Personalization breeds customer loyalty. What’s challenging today is that it’s no longer rare for brands to personalize their marketing experiences for customers—it’s expected. But, customers notice when brands don’t personalize and will look elsewhere for a brand that does. As McKinsey puts it, “Personalization can even be called a ‘hygiene factor’: customers take it for granted, but if a retailer gets it wrong, customers may depart for a competitor.” It’s not easy to strike the perfect balance, either. Not only is there the idea that if you don’t personalize at all, someone else will, there’s also the idea that if you don’t personalize in the right way, someone else will.
What does personalizing the right way mean? Think about any relationship other than a brand/customer relationship. Knowing too much about the other person, especially if they didn’t tell you that information, is crossing a line. Basically, don’t be weird about it. Personalize, but don’t be creepy. Be sure you’re telling your customers what information you’re getting from them and why, and then use that information subtly to build a cross-channel experience.
“You have to adopt and share that personalization golden rule, ‘Be overt in collecting data, covert in delivering personalized content.’ This is so important to safeguard and protect yourself against getting into trouble.”
– Brendan Witcher
At its core, a cross-channel experience is highly personalized. Personalization wins customer loyalty because it shows you’re paying attention to the customers’ needs.
To learn more about building a seamless cross-channel experience, schedule an Iterable demo today.