The New Omni-channel Marketing: Transform Your Customer Experience with Connected Conversations

TL;DR – Consumers demand omni-channel marketing engagements from brands, but many find brand efforts off-putting or creepy. Creating meaningful omni-channel engagements were once expensive and difficult to scale. Conversational AI empowers brands to offer mass one-to-one conversations, and brands have the opportunity to improve their omni-channel marketing efforts through “Connected Conversations” that transform their customer experience.

“Omni-channel Marketing” has long been a watchword among brands, and most consider the ability to provide an integrated customer experience across all channels as crucial to modern brand success. This is for good reason, as consumers also value these capabilities. 83% of consumers prefer to be able to switch between channels as they engage with brands, no matter what stage of the customer journey they are in.

These connected experiences further enable greater personalization over time, as they continue relevant conversations with consumers across channels, gradually allowing them to share more insights and deepen a relationship with a brand on their own terms. However, these connected experiences haven’t always been what they’re cracked up to be.

Only 38% of consumers are comfortable with brands storing their location for future use, while 40% view push notifications that come after walking past a retail location as “creepy”. How can brands adapt their approach to omni-channel marketing? Accounting for these expectations isn’t easy, but offering greater value in the engagements consumers get can guide a new way for omni-channel marketing.

Brands need to increase personalization while allowing consumers to interact on their own terms. Leveraging the capabilities of conversational AI to create meaningful one-to-one connections with consumers, brands can achieve this like never before, no matter what channel their customers choose to communicate on.

Making Omni-channel Marketing Performance-Based

Omni-channel marketing is nice in concept, but in practice it can lead to a more disconnected customer experience. This may seem counterintuitive but, when executed poorly, it can make a brand seem like it’s “talking out of two sides of its mouth”.

While giving a consumer multiple options to engage you is important, ensuring that this actually benefits your brand’s performance is the most important factor in defining the success of an omni-channel program. For many brands, defining and measuring success across so many different platforms and channels can seem difficult. For many marketing leaders, however, AI presents the most potential to finally cross that chasm.

What AI means in this case can be broad. Whether it refers to machine learning, big data-driven personalization or chatbots and messaging solutions, marketers see AI as an opportunity to more deeply quantify and personalize their customer interactions in order to better influence purchase decisions. While many of these interactions can only correlate to a decision, AI-driven messaging can offer a new avenue to observe and optimize this journey towards different goals like increased engagement, customer insights or even direct sales.

For instance: if you have a chatbot and are able to both observe the number of turns in a conversation and connect those interactions with purchase outcomes, you’d be able to know things like how the number of turns in a conversation influences a customer’s purchase decisions. A textual analysis of those conversations would further determine what terms or qualities increased their likelihood to purchase, especially when compared to less successful conversations. Here lies the transformative potential that AI offers omni-channel marketers.

When you deploy lead scoring or other predictive metrics in your brand’s interactions with consumers, you give yourself a chance to maximize the return on your efforts, but you don’t necessarily guarantee it. Human customer service representatives can help make these experiences more incomplete, but with costs already so high, switching between operators and channels often adds another “speed bump” to every omni-channel interaction a consumer makes. And the costs don’t stop there: It’s estimated that retailers are spending 18 cents out of every dollar of online revenue to meet consumer expectations around order and delivery alone. In order to offer a offer a complete experience that’s sustainable and profitable, brands need to add automation at every point possible. 

The cognitive solutions coming online today reach across the entire customer experience to eliminate friction and uncertainty, enhancing the effectiveness of an omn-ichannel experience while reducing the overall cost of delivering it. These solutions aren’t limited to customer service. Consumers are even more in need of guidance, recommendations and personalized responses in marketing and commerce contexts, without which they face product choices they simply don’t have the energy to make on their own

Offering an Experience that Consumers Actually Want

As discussed above, consumers overwhelmingly prefer brands that provide them personalized and connected experiences without putting them off through creepy messaging. 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember and provide relevant offers and recommendations, and another 83% are willing to share their data to enable such personalized experiences. 67% of consumers further define connected processes as “very important to winning their business”. These are not passing trends. These are meaningful, measurable changes in sentiment that brands need to respond to if they want to maintain leadership in the eyes of their consumers.

Consumers are telling you what they want to hear. This is critical for brands to realize. If your messaging is attractive and your products add value, consumers will ultimately buy it. There’s no reason to get in the way of that process with pushy sales and marketing messages that give off nothing more than “brand anxiety” – a turn-off consumers can smell from a mile away. The novelty of a well-timed email or a helpful SMS message has worn off over the years. Consumers now know you can reach them. Instead they’d prefer to reach you when they’re ready.

In light of all this, omni-channel practices are more critical than ever before. Consumers don’t necessarily know when or through what channel they will want to reach out, so brands must make sure that any and all channels are at the ready. When a consumer does connect with a brand, brands can rest assured that the consumer will expect a “connected” experience. This is not only an experience that connects them with a brand, but one that exists with prior context, intents and interactions brought to bear, making the interaction as relevant and personalized to that consumer as possible.

Brands can’t be limited to these exercises and methods of execution, however. These can’t be one-way, programmatic interactions with a human service representative and lead scoring at the ready. These are the types of interactions that need to be absolutely seamless at any scale. That sort of engagement is only possible with AI. When deployed at scale, AI can actually “make marketing more human”. It can overcome the traditional barriers we face with brand representatives while offering greater responsiveness to customer needs, no matter the time or channel.

Making Omni-channel Marketing Better with Connected Conversations

When we need answers in life, we often just need someone to talk to. Whether it’s friends, family or spiritual advisors, life’s biggest questions always require perspective from someone else to find the right answers.

Consumers aren’t seen as needing this level of advice and consultation in their everyday purchase decisions, but with “content shock” now an everyday reality for most of us, we are often faced with amounts of information about brands and products that we simply can’t process ourselves.

The key way for brands to respond to this is by engaging consumers on a deeper level, with the goal of providing the guidance, recommendation and instant, personalized responses that make a difference at every increment of a customer’s experience. This allows brands to present only relevant information and differentiate products in a way that creates real one-to-one connections with consumers. Adding basic responses and services further help overcome all the barriers to purchase that consumers inadvertently wrestle with. Taken together, all of this allows brands to move every consumer further down their funnel than they would have otherwise gone.

The idea of “Connected Conversations” is not ephemeral, but something that can have a very real impact for brands and consumers. These conversations can also act as a moat to competitors, who may be trying to peel off consumers from their preferred brand wherever they can get their attention. Instant, continuous connections, fully enriched by the context of previous interactions and available across devices and locations at any time of day or night – this is an experience that no driven brand can do without.

Understanding the Role of Conversational AI

The average app loses more than 80% of its users after the first three days. Plenty of other data is available to show the diminishing engagement on email, social media, SMS, messaging services and other channels. Consumers are increasingly less interested in engagements that lack interactivity, particularly where it’s driven around their needs, wants and desires. 

Deploying a unified conversational intelligence across multiple channels can overcome many of the issues that plague the current state of omni-channel marketing. More material benefits emerge in the potential to improve the outcomes of every interaction by making conversations more seamless – all improving engagement, customer insights and sales as a result.

Many leading brands are already deploying conversational AI in different parts of their customer journey. This solution is uniquely suited to providing consumers the connected experiences that they are looking for in every step along their paths to purchase, and providing the engagement and data that allow a brand to stoke even more success going forward.

Still have questions?  We’re fired up to help as many brands as possible to raise the bar of user and customer experience in eCommerce.  If you need help implementing website engagement tools for your brand or want to talk further about any of the tactics in this article, we should talk ASAP!

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