Marketing Automation and the New Omnichannel Journey

by Michael Brenner last updated on

Staying one step ahead of the customer has gotten a whole lot harder recently. Whereas a customer journey once represented a swift trip from A to B and then perhaps to C, it now resembles something of an alphabet soup, with customers taking many a meandering route towards a purchase.

Here are three examples of customer journeys that are considered to be typical today; and three examples of how marketing automation helps us to be prepared.

Journey #1

A customer is passing your store and they step inside to take a look at your product range. They select a bulky product but use their mobile device to compare prices and find it cheaper elsewhere. It is only after the product arrives that the customer realizes that your ‘Free Delivery on Items Over $75” policy would have rendered your store the cheaper option.

The friction

This represents a way in which the omnichannel approach can be used to poach customers. Statistics show that 34% of customers browse products on mobile devices while in a physical store. Unfortunately, the products and prices being browsed are not limited to your own.

However, in this instance, the customer was wrong. The product turned out to be cheaper in the original store and she ended up spending more money for a lower quality service.

How automation can help

The major failing here was that the pertinent information was not delivered. It can be very tough for businesses to supply their customers with relevant, up-to-date and accurate information if there is no level of automation in place.

Automation enables businesses to analyze key access points for consumers, delivering information to them then and there. Had automated procedures been correctly administered in this instance, then perhaps the message would have been communicated.

We cannot legislate against consumers ignoring or forgetting our messaging but automated procedures can help us do everything in our power to minimize this.

omnichannel journey

Journey #2

After purchasing a technological product, a customer requires support. They contact your support team via your customer service helpline but they struggle to get through as they only have a chance to use the line during peak hours.

Instead they go online and use the live chat support tool to access further support. However, the problem is not resolved. The customer waits a while, considers their options, and then sends the item back for a refund under warranty.

The friction

There are multiple issues here. The first is that this model, and the way it plays out, represents the opposite of a solid omnichannel approach. Rather than positioning itself to enable it to meet the customer’s needs across any channel, the business in question forces the customer to flick between channels to achieve a response.

Secondly, the response received by the customer is inadequate. The problem is not fixed and a solution is not found. Unfortunately, within this journey, this failed interaction is the last point of contact between the customer and the company until the return request is logged.

The customer is simply forced to wait too long, and is left abandoned by the support team. It is this sort of failure which leads to negative reviews and damaged reputation.

How automation can help

Just because a customer requires support does not represent a failure in itself; this is an unavoidable element of business. Instead, the failure begins because the response received is not good enough. By implementing a customer management system as part of a marketing automation initiative, customer interactions and support statuses can be tracked, creating a safety net and enabling higher quality communication.

Automation can assist further here. One of the key failures occurred when the customer was abandoned by the support team, assuming their job was done. By providing a range of automated follow up messages – either via email, SMS, or social media – support teams can ensure a positive experience for the customer and secure a good review.

Journey #3

A customer browses the internet on their desktop computer in the morning before work, connecting with a piece of content via your company’s social media channels. The customer then goes out to work, accessing the same content on their mobile device.

The content intrigues the customer, so they enter their information into the data capture form in the content’s sidebar. This triggers an automated email from your company, but the products and services featured in the email are not suitable for the customer’s needs. A second email arrives, and a third, but the problem is the same, and eventually the customer unsubscribes.

The friction

There are good points and bad points here. For starters, the customer is intrigued enough by the meta data and the content itself to click and then submit their information. This signifies a solid social media strategy and great content.

The above example also shows that the content has been optimized for mobile and desktop browsing – which, in itself, is a vital component of the omnichannel experience for a customer.

Automation is also playing its part. Once the data has been captured, an email is sent to the customer, who is already engaged sufficiently to click it and browse the content within. However, the email content is unsuitable, so the customer disengages and the entire process has been a waste of time.

How automation can help

As we have seen, automation has already been rolled out and it is fulfilling its mechanical function well within this organization. Although, for this customer, the products were not suitable, this does not mean that this will be the case for other customers. Sooner or later, the automated content delivery system will achieve a conversion.

But is this good enough? Do we really want to deal with customers on a “sooner or later” basis? Automation, implemented properly, can ensure that we don’t have to.

Through automation, we can better understand our customers, and we can learn about which types of customer approach us and for what reason. This data can then be fed into the strategizing process, creating refined buyer profiles which we can use to provide subtly targeted content and marketing initiatives.

This is not a case of pigeonholing our customers; more of getting to know their needs and responding accordingly. The buyer profiles we create can then be used to re-organize data capture structures, enabling us to determine which users fit into which profile. We can then provide the targeted product and service information the customer needs to solve their specific problems.

Your turn

How has marketing automation helped you solve your omnichannel marketing challenges? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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