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Why an Omnichannel approach to acquisition is key to customer engagement and growth

Kristie Naha-Biswas, Head of Strategy & Planning, Europe spoke at Performance Marketing World: UNLOCKED in London. A recap of the top insights.

Why an Omnichannel approach to acquisition is key to customer engagement and growth

In today's ever-changing advertising landscape, finding and connecting with new customers remains key to growth. An omnichannel approach accounts for the multiple and zig zaggy journeys that a consumer takes to purchase a product.  It integrates all channels of communication, such as social media, search digital media, and retail media, along with OOH, TV, and in-store experiences, to create a seamless customer experience, connecting brand and performance.

Kristie Naha-Biswas, Head of Strategy & Planning, Europe spoke at the recent Unlocked event in London, hosted by Performance Marketing World. Here is a recap of the event discussion and Kristie’s point of view on omnichannel strategy and planning.

Meeting the customers where they are

An omnichannel approach allows businesses to meet customers where they are. Today, customers interact with businesses through multiple channels, and they expect a consistent and appropriate experience across all of them. By having an omnichannel approach, businesses can be present and relevant and support the purchase decision journey, regardless of how the customer chooses to interact with them. This leads to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty, which translates into higher customer engagement and growth. ​

Put simply, if brands do not take an omnichannel approach, they limit growth potential, the ability to connect, influence and convert consumers in their diverse, personal journeys.

The non-linear journey of modern consumers

A funnel has been a simple device for marketers to divvy up their media and marketing tasks, to allocate media and budget and even responsibilities.  But it is simply no longer appropriate or relevant to modern consumer journeys.  People do not go from being aware of a brand, then considering, then shopping.  At Assembly, we work with a consumer experience journey which starts with the consumer, defines the role communications and tasks media needs to deliver on across the journey. ​

By using multiple channels of communication, businesses can reach and engage with customers at various touchpoints in their journey, from discovery to purchase and beyond. This provides businesses with more opportunities to interact with customers and provides them with value, which leads to increased customer engagement and growth.

Building Insights & Connections

Our strategy and planning function is known as our Insights & Connections team and deeply grounded in understanding the consumer, obsessing ourselves with data and insight and connecting and how we find those connections.  ​

Our secret sauce is using data, tech and talent to put the consumer at the heart of our planning approach, which means we look through the eyes of the consumer and plan with all possible connections in mind – paid, owned and earned, all points of possible interaction with a consumer and all “omnichannel’ points of purchase, and all sales destination.   ​

Our omnichannel approach puts the consumer at the centre and find those right connections, we look at all those connections and then plan the best experience pulling on the right levers, so a brand can provide the right experience, content, support which brings new customers in and translates to growth for that brand.  We have 4 key principles that guide our approach:

​Key Principles of Omnichannel Planning ​

  1. Be consumer centric. Instead of leading with channel, lead with your customer and understand the right route to each audience and then find the best paid, owned or earned connection to fit. ​
  2. Connect brand and performance: brand activity has significant impact on performance marketing activity. Synergising and leveraging both reap benefits.  ​
  3. Creative and media need to be best friends: match the right content and brand formats with the right messaging for the consumer based on what stage they are in terms of in their consumer journey.   ​
  4. Always results centric:  whatever the activity, strive for the best performance and ensure the KPIs are reflective of the task.

Data, in context

Data can help to understand the fundamental moments in the consumer journey, as discussed above, but also then to convert. ​

We can use data to understand those different journeys, because there is not just one, for some categories there are multiple function/need based drivers, others are more driven by emotional needs.  Understanding those triggers, category entry points, help us to focus on the right moments, time, context and content and the right connections to bring people into the market and convert them.   ​

When we look at luxury items, these are often driven by more emotional needs, rather than specific functional triggers.  Research by Assembly found that 30% of purchases in the category were driven by specific emotional triggers such as a gift or self-treat, and perhaps a more ‘need’ 17% upcoming travel.

​Data & insight means we can then activate better for conversion ​

With this data, we had a new prospect audience we could target with a more performance lens because we knew they would be warmer than a general audience, we could use data to make sure we were most relevant with creative.  This can also mean we can be creative with channels, partners and approach.

Kristie Naha-Biswas at Performance Marketing World: UNLOCKED

Embrace the ‘phygital’

Different channels such as social, retail, or e-commerce, serve different objectives. However, defining them too rigidly can negate their full potential and benefits. ​

Life used to be so easy as a planner.  TV – tick, brand job done, PPC, tick, performance job done.  It is not that neat and tidy and increasingly channels and platforms can each play a role across the full consumer journey. Paid advertising in retail environments can fulfil  awareness - it is not the exclusive domain of performance alone. ​

TV is also not exclusively only a platform for brand.  With more addressable audiences and opportunity to create actions from TV formats – there is opportunity to experiment and test the big screen to drive more performance focused goals.

Almost half of Gen Z begin their product search on social and are more likely to do this than use traditional search, Social is not just a domain for brand discovery, but is multi-faceted and complex with POE social all playing a role across the consumer journey. ​

Similarly, the metaverse has been a testing ground for future-facing brands and, currently, gaming is where most opportunities in the metaverse are, and thus a channel we look at for the Gen Z audience. There is, however, a balance to be struck to ensure media investments are allocated where they have the most impact.  Back to principle 1, follow your audience.

Phygital connection– interchanging and shifting seamlessly from online to offline, from the street to online and vice versa has become a strong customer trend. Over a third of shoppers that research products on social media prefer to shop In Store. ​

When we think Phygital we can talk about AR and VR, virtual try-ons are increasingly relevant especially for the Gen Z audience, they want these experiences in both offline and online shopping environments. We expect this to be a significant growth area across a number of brand verticals.

Phygital in action

Recent insights by revealed that 43% will use virtual reality to inspire their choices, with 46% more likely to travel somewhere they otherwise wouldn’t have if they could experience it virtually first. ​

But applying a phygital mindset to your omnichannel strategy doesn’t have to be just about the tech. Consumers who see OOH advertising are 63% more likely to make an action on a brand site (source: warc/posterscope). ​

We have seen from a recent case study a +35% uplift in search demand from an OOH campaign.  This is something which we build into our planning and look to leverage this connection, making optimizations to our performance media based on OOH media and other offline media that may prompt users to move online. ​

In 2023, phygital strategies will be increasingly important, brands looking to deliver a positive omnichannel experience for consumers will need to step into their shoes and find and test these opportunities to make connections.

Measuring complexity

The challenge often for performance marketers is that there is a strong focus on delivering to a ROAS or ROI metric.  To grow and expand and convert more demand in-market will require some brave testing in new areas which can put ROAS targets at risk – but have potential to grow much greater revenue. ​

There is not a formulaic answer to what measurement looks like in omnichannel, rather nuances that extend traditional performance marketing metrics into strategies that are designed to address precise brand challenges. Brand drives performance and omnichannel marketing drives interdependencies between both. For example, looking at search metrics, we know that brand moments such as OOH can significantly uplift online search demand. Social media campaigns may be targeted to drive in-store footfall.  As mentioned previously, with over a third of shoppers researching online and then buying in-store, we need to look at the bigger story. What was the discovery, experience, and engagement online? What drove the action to visit the store rather than purchase online? And how does the brand engage at the point of purchase and thereafter. It really is about deeper connection and relationship building. ​

Omnichannel demands a deep understanding of multiple touchpoints in the customer journey, and we have dedicated measurement and effectiveness resources precisely to advise and solve these challenges, using predictive modelling and real-time observations. ​

This is an exciting time, not only for brands, but also for advertising and marketing talent. ​

In conclusion, an omnichannel approach is key to customer engagement and growth. By meeting customers where they are, providing more opportunities to engage, gathering more data, and staying competitive, businesses can create a seamless and personalized customer experience that leads to increased engagement and growth. As the advertising landscape continues to evolve, businesses that adopt an omnichannel approach will be better positioned to succeed in the long term.