Digital strategy for omnichannel digital experiences
Over the last few years, we’ve been seeing a proliferation of digital channels and devices, resulting in the website no longer being enough to adequately reach customers across their customer journeys.
With new trends and technologies enabling multi or even omnichannel digital experiences, digital strategies must adapt as well, especially when considering the accelerated digitalization that’s been going on since early 2020.
In this article, we’ll discuss the key components of strategizing for omnichannel digital experiences, together with the key considerations and tactics for each one. In the second part, we’ll also take a look at some of the main challenges of providing omnichannel experiences at scale and how they can be tackled.
Meaningfully engaging with customers in the always-on, highly competitive digital age requires adjusting your approach to marketing. Even businesses used to traditional physical marketing have had to digitalize in the Covid era, and a lot of them are innovating in combining physical and digital initiatives.
This can mean different things for different industries. For example, retail brands may leverage technologies such as VR to bring the in-store experience closer to customers; a digital agency could send branded gifts to clients and business partners.
Certain conferences that have moved online are doing something similar, sending the “conference swag” by mail to all registered attendees. Another great example brands are using are gift cards, which can be sent digitally hassle-free and then redeemed for a physical good.
So, for a truly omnichannel digital strategy, consider leveraging both digital and physical channels for your marketing efforts, in order to at the same time capitalize on everything offered by digital and balance the digital fatigue from over a year of Covid.
The other key pillar of digital strategy, strongly tied to marketing, is content strategy. Content is at the essence of digital experiences, and one-sided content will have trouble succeeding in an omnichannel world.
Until recently, written content used to dominate the web. However, with the proliferation of digital channels, what kind of content people consume and how they interact with it has fundamentally changed.
While longform written content can still be an effective element of content strategy, we’re now seeing much more video and audio content, the latter being especially easy to consume on the fly. On top of that, a lot of this content is also ethereal, meaning that it’s not meant to provide evergreen value, but rather more of a short-term brand element (e.g. “stories”).
Another example of this short-lived, easy consumable, bite-sized content are infographics, which are able to deliver high amounts of condensed information in a visually attractive package - so, they check all the boxes.
A crucial point to make here is that you don’t need unique topics for different channels - you can repurpose the same content ideas for a blog post, a social media story, and an infographic. The options are endless, and there’s no better time to experiment and take risks than right now.
User & customer experience
Now that we’ve discussed the “digital strategy” part, let’s also focus for a bit on the “digital experience” part of the subject line. UX and CX are vital aspects of the digital, and your digital strategy should definitely prioritize them highly.
In order to provide a great experience to any kind of user, your content must be inclusive of and accessible to everyone. The best way to do this holistically is to employ a human-centered approach to design, which will let you design with empathy and organically incorporate these aspects rather than tacking them on as an afterthought.
One of the best ways to let yourself be guided by the needs and wants of your audiences is to make good use of data to drive your decisions and initiatives. Of course, with great data comes great responsibility, so your usage of data should not come at the expense of your customers’ privacy
Additionally, with mobile often being the primary means of accessing digital content, you should always design following the mobile-first approach, using progressive enhancement to scale up designs on bigger screen sizes. This includes meticulous mobile testing which prioritizes performance and information structure.
Most importantly, your users and customers should have an equally delightful experience no matter on which channel they interact with your brand. The experience you provide should be cohesive and well-integrated to eliminate any possible friction and frustration, and increase the chance of customer retention and loyalty.
As we stated in the introduction, a website is no longer enough for an omnichannel digital presence and strategy. One of the best and most integrated solutions is a digital experience platform, which can be proprietary (e.g. Adobe) or open (e.g. Acquia / Drupal).
A DXP is able to integrate and connect all of your different software to have a 360-view of customers. Just imagine - a single platform where your customer data platform, your e-commerce store and any MarTech tools all work together seamlessly.
Because of this tight integration, a DXP also offers ample options for personalization, and there’s just as much a rising demand in well personalized experiences as there is a frustration with poorly executed personalization. An important note to add here: too much personalization can quickly lead to creepiness! You should aim for balance.
Something which DXPs tend to offer out of the box, but can certainly be achieved with a CMS such as WordPress or Drupal, is decoupling the back end from the content presentation layer: so, using one system for data storage and for content creation, and then custom front-end technologies such as React or Angular for presentation on various channels.
This allows you to have a single content hub and push that content effortlessly to the kind of channel which will let it perform best and provide the best experience - essentially hugely simplifying the process of content syndication, which can otherwise prove a major pain for larger brands.
We’ve already touched upon certain challenges of devising omnichannel strategies under previous points, and we’ll discuss the main ones in greater detail in this section.
Actually, let’s start from the back, with content syndication which we just mentioned under the above point. While a decoupled approach can certainly help with this, it’s not always the go-to solution, especially if you lack the developer capacity for such implementations.
A modern CMS with a good content workflow will typically handle most cases. On the organizational side, a well-connected intranet and a strong, transparent company culture contribute to better collaboration between teams and hence easing publication and creation of content.
All of this should also come in handy with addressing another challenge to delivering great cohesive digital experiences - organizational silos, which are allowed to thrive with an unhealthy, closed-off company culture.
Silos are actually particularly problematic in a multichannel context - how can you deliver cohesive digital experiences across all channels if there’s no or poor collaboration between the teams responsible for each channel?
The best strategy to minimize disjointed experiences is to have a strong brand, one that’s distinct and recognizable across all the different channels. As we stated earlier, you should also use data to your advantage, but beware of the privacy concerns and limitations that come with the use of data.
A good data strategy will also be crucial in knowing and targeting audiences based on their preferences and browsing and device habits. This is a must if you want to be truly omnichannel; you need to serve your customers where they are and in the ways they want, lest you get replaced by a competitor.
Cause, let’s face it - in an era where basically every brand has gone digital, you either have to be super niche or a visionary not to have competition. The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this by driving digitalization and giving even more power to the already powerful industry giants.
One way to break through the competition is to employ an “always-on” approach to marketing, where your priority is frequency and timely interaction. But this is a challenge all on its own.
A more surefire tactic which will allow you to innovate and act faster - and actually help with most of the challenges we’re discussing here - is to adopt Agile. Agile will help you improve collaboration while facilitating risk-taking and experimentation; learn more about the benefits of Agile here.
The final challenge or consideration we’d like to address are the peculiarities of specific channels. For example, mobile is widely used, but a lot of poorer countries have slow internet connections - how do you develop and design for that?
In this specific case, it’s convenient that we have native mobile applications, which allow perfectly normal usage without any performance problems or data overage. There are also PWAs, or progressive web apps, which operate on a similar concept of retaining basic functionality even without or with poor internet access.
Data will help you uncover what to prioritize. If you notice that a lot of your users are browsing on mobile from, say, Kenya, you should definitely consider how you can best serve those users.
Another broader example we should mention is voice (e.g. voice search and voice assistants). Voice usage is on the rise due to its convenience, but the user experience greatly differs from the traditional input/text-based one. If your data tells you a lot of your users are searching via voice, you should look at how you can optimize their experience.
So, as you can see, there are quite a few considerations that come with creating a great omnichannel digital strategy; knowing about them beforehand, however, and making strategy and technology decisions based on them will go a long way towards having a future-proof, user-centered strategy.
The omnichannel digital reality is definitely here to stay - if anything, we can expect to see more channels and an even greater use of a variety of devices.
This means that you can no longer put off optimizing your digital strategy for this new state of the industry; the sooner you act, the sooner you’ll be able to reap the benefits of your investments.
We hope this article can serve as a good starting point and you were able to get some useful insights from it. We talk about related topics in many of our other articles, so we invite you to also check out our Business and Experience blog sections for more insights like these.
If you’ve already formulated a great omnichannel strategy, but lack the development capacity to execute on it, reach out to us and we’ll be happy to discuss how we can best help you out.