Julia Manoukian

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December 17, 2018

Is Experiential Behind Paid, Digital & Other Marketing Channels?

Julia Manoukian

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Shockwaves went through the world of advertising and marketing when the 80-year-old Glamour magazine announced it was going digital only in 2019. The value of digital has proven itself many times over since AT&T posted the world’s first wild (and wildly successful) banner ad in 1994. Nearly a quarter of a century later, digital advertising and marketing is worth more than $107 billion, with retail, automotive and financial services as the top 3 digital advertisers. That spend is expected to grow at 15% CAGR for the near future.

In comparison, experiential or offline marketing seems to be significantly behind digital in terms of measurement, management and scaling capabilities. For those trying to operate a coherent omnichannel strategy, this mismatch in metrics and tools effectively creates a blindspot. Here are some ideas on how to fill in the gaps for a more holistic view.

Watch our latest webinar, "Event & Experiential Trends in 2018: What Consumer  Experts Are Saying," and learn what major brands are doing to drive engagement  and lift sales.

The Splintering of Control

The story of productivity and efficiency in business could be summed up as a pendulum that swings back and forth from centralization to specialization. One person can do everything, which led to the assembly lines of the early 20th century that vastly boosted productivity in some sectors.

Managing all those diverse groups became simpler also as company built silos around functional or budgetary control groups, such as operations, sales, marketing, customer service, etc. The problems with coordination across silos became more and more of a problem as it slowly dawned on companies that customers see brands as single entities.

In other words, as customers move from their desktops at work, to their phones on the road, to brick-and-mortar shops or dealerships, they expect the same experience from that brand across all channels. Creating a seamless experience across working groups and management teams takes a great deal of coordination and collaboration, not to mention normalization of data from a wide variety of sources.

In the end, silos make great sense for managers, but not for customers who have increasingly chose to support brands that prioritize the experience. 64 percent of customers surveyed said “their favorite retail brands (online and offline) deliver a personalized experience regardless of the platform or channel.”

Dropping the Ball in the Gulf Between Channels

For companies that haven’t mastered the hand off from online to offline, the cost can be painful. Those that have weak omnichannel coordination retain only about 33 percent of their customers on average, compared to a retention rate of 89 percent for omnichannel leaders.

Those customers that they retain also tend to provide more value to the organization. A study by IDC found that shoppers making purchases across channels have an LTV that is 30 percent higher than single channel buyers. those who shop using only one channel.

Among of the biggest roadblocks to assuring omnichannel engagement, however, are the gaps in knowledge about the customer. McKinsey reported that 67 percent of retailers said they lacked adequate customer analytics across channels, while 48 percent blamed siloed organizations for miscommunication and 45 percent said that the quality of data was simply not good enough.

Brands That Are Moving Ahead

On the plus side, there are great examples of brands leading the way in getting rid of old ways that don’t work and moving to a more omnichannel, integrated approach. Richard Umbers, CEO of Australian department store chain Myer pointed to the combination of analytics with omnichannel as the brightest star on his horizon. He said, “Myer has become a leaner, more productive and efficient retailer, better placed to compete in a rapidly changing environment. In the year ahead, we will be rolling out further initiatives, particularly in our strongly performing omni-channel business, in anticipation of a further wave of change in consumer and competitor behaviour.”

Along the same lines, a review of winning omnichannnel strategies at brands such as Lindt, Nationwide and Molson revealed that they prioritized tools for gaining visibility into the performance of experiential campaigns, folded it into digital metrics for a 360 degree view of the customer, and a customer-orientation around a seamless experience.

A recent report from Econsultancy backed this up with details on digital trends that have helped some companies exceed their top business goals by significant margins. One of the main conclusions was an integrated customer experience, based on coordinated data from both online and offline campaigns, streamlines internal efforts and boosts external performance.

Filling in the Gap

The most important point of all is that experiential doesn’t have to mean a blindspot anymore. Tools for measuring the effectiveness of offline events are catching up to the richness and detail of online data. Right now, too many companies come to off-center conclusions by depending too heavily on digital and social channels, which are easy to measure in isolation. Giving that data too much weight creates a view of the customer that doesn't sync up with their true omnichannel lifestyles.

The next step is melding it all together to support a single coherent strategy for customer engagement across departmental silos. That equation opens up many possibilities for future development and original ways to delight customers in the right way at the right time.

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