Omnichannel Customer Engagement: How to Personalize at Scale

Timothy Allen

Effective marketing automation is a key part of a successful omnichannel customer engagement strategy.

Here we look at omnichannel marketing vs multichannel marketing, and the tools you need to build connected customer experiences at scale.

Why omnichannel customer engagement is critical

Every day your customers are hit with a deluge of ads and irrelevant messages – and their patience is wearing thin.

Impersonal messages annoy 54% of people, are ignored by 47%, and are the reason why more than 1 in 5 people switched brand allegiance during the COVID-19 lockdown.

These figures are from our 2020 customer engagement report, which reveals a huge disconnect between the type of communications consumers value and the reality of what they receive from companies today.

A staggering 74% of people are not getting personalized communications from brands, despite the fact that 49% of people are open to relevant communications on a weekly basis – and 31% are more likely to engage with businesses that understand their preferences.

We’ve been talking “right message, right channel, right time” for years now – so how are businesses still getting this wrong?

At the heart of the struggle to deliver personalized, contextual interactions at scale is the mass shift to digital channels – something the pandemic has hugely accelerated.

Today we must meet our customers across a growing array of digital channels, navigating technical complexities and vast amounts of customer data to deliver valuable brand moments at every stage of the customer journey.

We know that:

  • Customers crave empathetic, human connections at every touchpoint.
  • Channel shifting and non-linear customer journeys are the new norm.
  • Customer behaviors and channel preferences continually evolve.
  • Different audience demographics and segments have vastly different expectations on what should be communicated – and on which channels.

Despite these considerations and nuances, many companies do not have an omnichannel customer engagement strategy, and still take a multichannel (or even single channel) approach.

The result is disjointed, depersonalized messaging that delivers a poor customer experience that harms customer acquisition, conversion, and retention.

Omnichannel marketing vs multichannel marketing

Omnichannel customer engagement is about building connected customer experiences at scale. This starts with understanding the relative strengths and weaknesses of omnichannel digital marketing versus multichannel marketing.

What is multichannel marketing?

In multichannel marketing, a brand uses multiple channels to engage customers, but without any integration between those channels:

  • Your company or product is at the center of communications. 
  • You communicate over several different channels, but each channel communicates independently, with its own strategy and goals.  
  • You use several different technology providers to communicate across different channels – one provider for SMS, another for email, and so on. This siloed approach means you’re unable to effectively track customer behaviors. 
  • The messaging and experiences you deliver is inconsistent across channels. 
  • You’re unable to support your customers with relevant, contextual messages as they shift across different digital channels. 

What is omnichannel marketing automation?

Omnichannel marketing differs from multichannel marketing in several key ways:

  • Your customer is at the heart of your customer engagement strategy. 
  • You communicate over several different channels, but channels are integrated, with a joint strategy that centers around the individual customer. 
  • You use a single provider to communicate across several different channels, with unified data that allows you to track customer behaviors in a holistic way. 
  • You use customer insights to deliver a consistent, personalized experience across all channels and devices.  
  • You provide consistent, personalized messages that adapt to each touchpoint a customer has with the brand. 

The key difference with omnichannel marketing is that you remove the silos. Omnichannel leverages a central point of customer data – which is crucial for providing consistent, compelling experiences, whatever the channels or customer journey stage that applies for individual customers.

But personalizing every individual message, for each customer and each channel, is extremely difficult for companies to do on their own – not to mention time consuming.

So how can companies provide personalized, contextual experiences at scale?

Maximize engagement, minimize operational effort

Automating your omnichannel customer engagement is key to improving individual customer journeys at scale, while freeing up marketers to focus their efforts on engagement strategy and optimization.

Omnichannel marketing automation allows you to centralize customer data, segment and target messages, analyze engagement at every step in the customer journey, and make changes based on evidence, not assumptions.

An omnichannel marketing automation hub unifies customer data across all your touchpoints, providing a single solution that addresses the entire workflow. This allows you to:

  • Segment and and target campaigns based on unified data such as demographics, location, behaviors, and events. Having a single provider and integrated data means, for example, that you’re able to send email communications that are informed by your customers’ behaviors and actions across different channels, such as your app.  
  • Personalize and automate omnichannel communication across multiple channels – from chat apps and mobile messaging apps, to SMS, RCS, email, and more. 
  • Measure efficiency and use analytics to continually improve the experiences you deliver. 

Brands like Brazilian fintech Juros Baixos are using omnichannel marketing automation to provide in-moment, real-time guidance based on a customer’s individual context.

Moments, Infobip’s omnichannel customer engagement hub, allows the fintech to deliver proactive, event-triggered communication across multiple channels – all within a single automation flow.

Moments enables us to connect with our customers at the right time. The power of segmentation, through customizable variables and tags, allows us to personalize each engagement. 

Arthur Bonzi, Co-founder & COO, Juros Baixos 

Omnichannel customer engagement example

Here’s a quick example of where omnichannel automation can be used to boost engagement across different parts of the customer journey – in this case, to tackle cart abandonment.

Let’s say a customer is browsing your site on their laptop. They add an item to their cart, but soon move onto doing something else.

After setting up an automation sequence to target cart abandonment, you have multiple options:

  • SMS, RCS, push notifications: if the customer has opted in, send an abandoned cart reminder on the same day of them abandoning their cart. 
  • Email: for a softer approach, send them an email to remind them about their item and to offer support. 
  • SMS: send a discount code for the product or offer free shipping to draw the customer back in. 

The beauty of an omnichannel approach is that when this individual returns to your site the following day on a different device, you’re able to recognize them as the same individual with the item in their cart. And where an initial push notification fails to deliver, you can set parameters to automate fallback options using other channels.

Tip: download our omnichannel marketing automation guide for a detailed look at more examples and use cases.

Optimize your omnichannel customer engagement

There’s no silver bullet for achieving personalized customer engagement at scale – as we explored in this post.

Even with omnichannel marketing automation, marketers need to continually test, measure, and learn to optimize their strategies and continually improve the customer experiences they deliver.

That said, an omnichannel customer engagement hub gives marketers the unified data and tools they need to continually refine their marketing programs and deliver relevant, timely, and personal messaging – moments that matter.

It’s why companies across a wide range of industries rely on tools such as Moments to power their customer engagement strategies.

To learn more about the business benefits and use cases for omnichannel customer engagement, download our Omnichannel Marketing Automation Guide.

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Nov 24th, 2020
7 min read

Timothy Allen