Executing Omni-Channel Marketing: Think Big But Start Small

July 16, 2015 | by James Niehaus, VP of Digital Analytics & Strategy, Ensighten @JamesNiehaus
Its a Jungle Out There

It’s a Jungle Out There

In the legal world the saying goes “it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.” For digital marketers, especially enterprise digital marketers, it’s not what’s in your slides, but what you launch, measure and show ROI on. Most enterprise organizations struggle when it comes to marketing execution. Internal challenges are often the biggest roadblock to getting things done; from data silos, to organization silos, to decisions by committee, to IT restrictions, to legacy technologies, etc.

To successfully execute a long-term omni-channel strategy you need to cut across all the organizational, data, technology and political silos. Unfortunately, the industry isn’t designing omni-channel marketing solutions that solve these harsh organizational realities.

The goal of this post is to share different ways our leading enterprise customers have been getting started with omni-channel marketing and achieving success.

Think Big But Start Small

With omni-channel marketing you need to strike the right balance between solving for the big picture and making things happen now. More often than not, making smaller strategic bets is a great way to get your omni-channel strategy and initiatives off the ground. Below are four examples for how to bring a small bet mindset to your omni-channel initiative:

  1. Strategy. When it comes to omni-channel marketing strategy, many marketers take a top down approach, which often includes bringing in executives and involving a broad cross functional team to kick off the project. While that’s great for aligning the organization on a long-term strategy it can come at a steep price. Namely, slowing down efforts to deliver the short term wins which are needed to gain buy-in from the broader organization.I have seen success with teams taking a bottom’s up approach where they focus on delivering on a pilot first and showcasing a win, and then bringing in the larger organization to jointly scale and launch the pilot across more channels and teams. Start small and focus on action.
  1. Data. Big data is always good, but focusing initially on small data can often bring faster returns in the beginning. To be clear, small data is the rich behavioral and contextual data that your users generate when they engage with your brand on and offsite, and that you are collecting and stitching into real-time profiles and segments.

    The sad reality is that more often than not enterprises choke on trying to develop big data solutions. This scenario can become very costly and inefficient, especially when the end-to-end process is controlled by IT, which may not have as deep an understanding of the goals as Marketing.

    I have seen more success when customers’ kickoff their omni-channel marketing efforts by leveraging real-time small data, especially when built around user profiles. The reason is simple – it’s easier to work with small data: to collect it, to integrate and transform it, and to act on it.

  2. Channels. While omni-channel marketing is the end-state goal, don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you’re not doing smart cross-channel marketing today, it’s a great place to start. Trying to capture all your data from all your channels on day one is a recipe for complexity and frustration. Enterprises that begin by focusing on the handful of channels that matter and the channels that are easiest to integrate have the most success. If you are personalizing or analyzing today using data from a single channel, adding a second channel to the mix is a logical first step and a great way to get your organization introduced into omni-channel. Examples of this include personalizing the onsite experience by combing CRM and web behavior data in real-time, or doing cross-channel analytics across onsite and offsite data.
  1. Technology. Small bets also make sense for the technologies you select to help enable and enhance your omni-channel strategy. Enterprises are seldom, if ever starting with a technological clean slate and a blank check. Most enterprises have limited budget and resources, and are working with a combination of legacy internal systems and off the shelf point solutions. In the short term, the most successful enterprises achieve early wins by focusing on technologies that plug into their existing platforms, technologies, and resources. It accelerates time to market and reduces costs, as opposed to a rip and replace approach which requires pulling out significant layers of an existing stack before work can even begin. In other words, enriching your current marketing technology investments is often a less costly and less disruptive approach than starting with a collection of brand new technologies.

There is no “easy button” to help you break down data, technology, and organizational silos and align your organization when it comes to executing your omni-channel strategy. Time and time again, I’ve seen our leading customers begin the omni-channel journey by focusing on marketing initiatives that show early success, reduce timelines and limit risk. Think big, but start small.

Recommended Next Steps:

You’ve reached the end of Executing Omni-Channel Marketing: Think Big But Start Small, but this is only the beginning. If you’re wondering where to go from here, check out these recommended next steps:

  1. Read the new Customer Experience Optimization Report from Ensighten & Econsultancy.
  2. Visit our resource library to learn more about Ensighten. White papers, webinars, case studies, product information and more.
  3. Learn how Ensighten can help you achieve true 1:1 marketing.
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James Niehaus

About James Niehaus

James specializes in optimizing the intersection of data, marketing, product, and technology. He ran his first optimization program back in 1999, and has gone on to run programs for startups, E-LOAN, Salesforce.com, and Symantec. At Ensighten, James leads the product team and advises top brands on ...
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