Blog / Omnichannel

What Omnichannel Is and Why It’s Critical for Your Success


by Petr Palas

Nov 28, 2017

It was 9pm when Laura, Marketing Manager of a large manufacturing company, received a call from her colleague: “We need to cancel tomorrow’s product launch.” It turns out they had incorrect copy on their website that didn’t match the messages scheduled for social media.

Moreover, the agency that managed their mobile app had used the wrong product images. “How could that even happen?” asked Laura.

While this is a fictional story, it’s not that far removed from an everyday reality. Just like Laura, many marketers experience challenges managing content across multiple channels and collaborating with multiple teams.

And this problem will just be compounded by the ever-growing list of emerging channels.

Emerging Channels Change the Way We Communicate

Having a website or mobile app (or both) is no longer enough. Today, customers want to use new channels to communicate with brands. 

For Millennials, it’s all about messaging. In fact, customers today spend more time on their messaging apps than on their social networking apps! So engaging them through their already preferred channel is a great opportunity—like bringing them intelligent chatbots that can guide them through product selection or answer support questions.

Messaging Apps Have Surpassed Social Networks


Imagine you’re busy cooking in the kitchen with messy fingers and you realize you really need to consult the recipe. Voice-enabled digital assistants, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, are always on and ready to answer your questions or take your orders. 

Perhaps you’re refurbishing and want to see what a new bookcase will look like in your living room. No problem, not only will an augmented reality app show you what it would look like in situ, but it will even measure the size of the space to make sure it fits.

Augmented Reality


And these are just a small sample of the fun our customers are in store for. We will find ourselves using more channels like virtual reality (did you see the new $199 Oculus Go?), smartwatches, connected cars and home appliances, etc. to communicate with them.

Marketers Need to Manage More and More Channels

All these new channels create great opportunities for marketers to engage their customers in new ways. If your customers are not talking to your chatbot, it’s likely they’re talking to one of your competitors.

Now you may think “Do I really need to support all these new channels?” Well, no, not really. Some of them may not be relevant for your particular audience. And, quite frankly, some of these new channels may not stick in the market after the initial hype. 

One thing is clear, though: the number of channels will continue to grow and you can’t know now which channels will be the next big thing for your business even one year from now. You don’t want your content efforts today to be wasted by having a use-by date—you want it to be able to adapt to any new (even yet-to-be-conceived) channel, meaning your investment today is still relevant tomorrow. The only way to ride the wave of the omnichannel storm is by creating future-proof content.

Additional Channels Create a Multichannel Nightmare

The problem is that most marketers aren’t ready for this. The tools they use often reflect the organizational silos they work in: 

  • Their digital team is managing the content in a Web Content Management (WCM) system and Digital Asset Management (DAM) system. 
  • Their social media team prepares messages in tools like Buffer or Hootsuite. 
  • Their ecommerce team manages product details in their commerce platform, ERP or Product Information Management (PIM) system. 
Multichannel


What will happen when they suddenly have to start supporting even more channels?

What we get is a complete multichannel nightmare: large inefficiencies, duplication of work, and inconsistent experiences for customers. 

Multichannel Nightmare

Friction in Content Flow Impacts the Experience of Your Customers

Going back to Laura’s story: the agency hadn’t used the right images in the mobile app. Normally, someone from Laura’s team would download the new product images from their Digital Asset Management system, send them to the agency by email, and someone at the agency would upload them to the mobile app. But nobody even knew the images had been updated!

The result? Laura’s customers who wanted to see the new product in the mobile app the next morning would get pictures of the old model. And the budget Laura spent on the product launch would go to waste!

That’s what we call friction in content flow: it often starts invisibly in the authoring phase and can go on to destroy your customer experience without warning.

Friction in Content Flow

An Omnichannel Approach Makes Your Content Flow More Smoothly

Laura didn’t sleep at all that night—she had spent several months getting everything ready for the launch and then, at the final hurdle, everything went wrong! “We need to change the way we work,” she thought to herself, and spent her sleepless hours imagining how things could change to make the process better:

What if all content was created and stored in just one place? That way, our web team, social media specialist, and external agency could all create and access content easily. Not only would each channel be able to see what the other channel is doing, but each channel would always have the most up-to-date version and brand messages would be much better aligned to ensure a better customer experience. 

What if instead of entering content manually into multiple tools, we could produce the content just once and it could then be pushed directly to all our channels? The various teams and the agency wouldn't need to download and upload the content or to create new content specifically for their channel.

She realized they needed to adopt a model that was omnichannel from the start: instead of thinking and operating in silos, they needed a single repository—a single source of truth for their content.

Omnichannel

Think Strategically about Your Content

Laura realized that while they were busy preparing all the content, they had failed to think strategically about their content:

  • What content do we create?
  • Who owns the content?
  • How do we structure it for reuse across channels?
  • Where do we store it?
  • How do we publish it through the right channels?
  • How do we know it was successful?
Strategy

A Headless CMS Is the Core of an Omnichannel Content Hub

The idea of headless CMS started originally as a tool for developers who were frustrated by the limitations of traditional CMS products. 

Multiple teams of marketers were working on multiple projects that had multiple iterations of multiple messages that all needed to be magically distributed to millions of customers who wanted one seamless experience. 

But the concept of having one cloud-based hub for all your content that then could be managed, structured, and reused across all channels, created win-win situations for all teams involved.

Because the headless concept puts content at the core of all processes and separates it from any presentational elements, it allows you to distribute it anywhere via its API—yes, even to technology not on the market yet.

Its cloud-based nature enables easy collaboration with people both within and outside your organization and ensures everybody has the latest version of content. 

It also means that you can start building your content hub today, without waiting for any complex setup.

Headless CMS is the future-proof technology that future-proofs your investment into content.

Needless to say, Laura’s most recent launch went swimmingly as her new cloud-based, strategy-led, content-focused omnichannel approach eradicated working silos, increased inter-team efficiency, and dramatically improved customer relationships. 

Want to learn more? Try Kentico Cloud headless CMS or talk to us to discuss your needs.