Omnichannel is here. It is no longer enough for broadcasters and media marketers simply to engage their audiences across as many channels as possible; now this engagement must be positioned to meet the needs of the audience wherever they are found, and it must be seamless in its delivery.
The goals have shifted. Savvy marketers who were already struggling to stay ahead of the curve in a multichannel setting are finding themselves stretched ever thinner by even more resource-intensive omnichannel protocols.
This is leading to difficult decisions. Should broadcasters simply cut their losses and focus their attentions on their most profitable channels? Or should they push on with omnichannel, delivering substandard content but managing to reach all corners of their audience?
In fact, the choice need not be a binary one. There are methods and strategies that we can employ to support our efforts on all fronts, facilitating high-level omnichannel engagement without compromising on quality.
Focus on understanding
The fundamental difference between multichannel and omnichannel is understanding. While multichannel relied on a scattergun approach to engagement, meeting audience members wherever possible, the omnichannel model is far more considered.
This means acquiring the right data, interpreting it, and using it. Everything that can be measured must be measured; this includes rates of interaction across distinct channels, conversion rates for different advertisements, consumer activity across different devices, and so on.
There can be no such thing as too much data, nor can there be too few data sources. Every action a broadcaster takes – every strategy they plan and every advertisement they deploy – represents a natural spring of data, tapping into the seam of the raw material and delivering it directly into the hands of a business. Any active business is a veritable gold mine of data; simply not being able to acquire the right data in a great enough volume is no excuse.
Keep mining the data, and keep deploying it as you develop your understanding. Use cloud computing solutions to store the data, and utilize data management software in commissioning reports. These are the first steps towards the profound levels of audience understanding that are key to omnichannel success.
The two forks of understanding: behavior and persona
From here, we hit a crossroads. Understanding in the omnichannel landscape relates to two key areas: audience personas and audience behavior. To begin with, let’s take a look at personas.
Audience personas and segmentation
Connecting audience members with relevant content and advertising material requires a degree of tailoring. We need to understand our audience members and recognize which types of advertising or digital marketing strategies are going to resonate the most strongly with them.
However, true tailoring – i.e., a completely bespoke experience for each and every consumer – is impossible to achieve. This is why marketers must develop brand personas; audience segments with similar wants, needs, likes, dislikes, and objectives. By segmenting the audience in this way, the efficiency of the marketing initiative is enhanced, and media service providers move one step closer to a truly personalized approach.
With each new level of information, understanding is enhanced, and the audience profile is developed. This makes it far easier to market directly to each persona, removing the hit-or-miss element of media marketing and dramatically improving your ability to achieve seamless omnichannel connections.
Next, we need to focus on behavior. With audience profiles developed, we now need to build behavioral data into these personas, starting with the consumer journey.
An omnichannel strategy represents a response to a seismic shift in consumer behavior. Before, media consumers utilized one or two channels over the course of their daily activity; now that number is far higher. This demands even more intimate levels of understanding; you need to know exactly which journey each profile is most likely to take.
Perhaps one particular segment of your audience is more likely to access content via a tablet than another segment, while another section of the audience is more likely to download content for viewing later than to consume it at its scheduled time. Maybe one audience profile is an avid social media user and will follow profiles for all his or her favorite media products; another may be more likely to make a purchase directly from a television advertisement.
Analyze the actions of each audience profile, and develop your understanding of their behavior. This information is key as you deduce the best methods to optimize your resources for a successful omnichannel strategy.
Responsiveness and agility
It is important to remember that the consumer journeys discussed above are not definitive. The modern home is full of different devices on which media and cultural products can be consumed. How many times have you been watching the television and found yourself looking at your phone? How many times have you noticed a family member using their second screen with the television on in the background? Scenes like these are repeated in homes all over America.
As digital marketers and media service providers, we need to be attuned to this, and agile enough to respond as and when we need to. Take another look at your audience profiles; is this audience segment likely to use a smartphone to connect with a tie-in website while watching a television program? Make sure you are represented in each and every channel the consumer might try to use.
Strategizing from the ground up
Pursuing a data-focused angle, like the one outlined above, gives you a solid foundation on which to develop further omnichannel strategies. By wielding the knowledge you have gained, you will find that you have the tools to optimize your resources and achieve omnichannel engagement without compromise.
To take this forward, you need to integrate your efforts. Practice communal strategizing, bringing previously disparate teams together and helping them to understand where their efforts fit into those of the whole. The culture of communication and collaboration that this fosters will enhance efficiency even further, ensuring that no energy is wasted in the pursuit of omnichannel success.
Gaining insight and understanding is the first step. From here, the sky is the limit.
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This post is the fifth of a seven-part series, “Reimagining Media in The Digital Age.” Check back weekly for further blogs in the series.