Brands increasingly operate in an omnichannel world, with consumers wanting the ability to communicate and interact with them across a range of channels within their customer journey. A key part of omnichannel success is delivering a personalized, optimized experience that is seamless, fluid and consistent across digital and physical channels in order to increase engagement and conversion rates.
That requires omnichannel experimentation and personalization. In our previous blog we explained how to successfully deliver omnichannel personalization and segmentation, and this article focuses on introducing omnichannel experimentation into your strategy.
1 Embracing the omnichannel experience
A new and complex cross-channel customer journey
Nearly three-quarters of consumers now use multiple channels to interact with a brand before converting. Essentially today’s evolving customer journey is no longer linear, and is often much more complex than in the past. Customers expect a consistent experience across all channels and devices. That means that companies need to move from a disparate, siloed, multi-channel approach to an omnichannel strategy that delivers a consistent, fast, customer experience across every channel. As part of this they have to eliminate channel silos within sales and marketing.
Omnichannel experience: the new challenge for every brand
Essentially brands need to be able to collect and deploy the data they have on consumers to deliver an omnichannel experience. When it comes to UX, brands have to focus on designing for users and their journey, rather than around particular channels, thus optimizing the experience. There shouldn’t be gaps or discrepancies as they switch between channels such as when moving between your website and app. This requires marketing teams to personalize and optimize the end-to-end customer experience across the sales funnel.
2 What is omnichannel experimentation?
There are significant differences between traditional and omnichannel experimentation.
This normally focuses on testing an hypothesis on a single, digital channel, such as a website or app. For example, a brand might test whether changing the layout of a page or removing steps from a customer journey delivers benefits in terms of increased conversions. Experiments can vary in complexity, depending on whether they are server-side or client-side.
While it is extremely powerful, traditional experimentation normally looks at user behavior on one channel, not across multiple ones. So a visitor to your website may see a variation to the user experience that is not replicated in an email they receive or an ad that appears on their social media feed or search results.
By contrast omnichannel experimentation brings a more cohesive, holistic approach to testing. A logged-in or known visitor sees the same experimental variants across multiple channels (such as the web, app, ads and email marketing), and devices (PCs, tablets and smartphones) delivering a seamless experience that matches their behavior. This allows an even greater range of experiments. Brands can also involve offline physical channels, such as mailshots to specific audiences, if required.
Orchestrating this omnichannel approach revolves around collecting, integrating and leveraging accurate, real-time data in order to have a unified view and profile of the customer. Brands need to understand who their visitors are, and which experimentation bucket they have put in (variant or control). This information then needs to be instantly available across all channels, so that it can be used to deliver the right variant at the right time to the right audience.
3 The benefits and uses of omnichannel experimentation
Through its more comprehensive approach omnichannel experimentation enables brands to extend their testing and personalization programs in multiple ways and increase customer engagement, conversions and ROI.
Benefits of omnichannel experimentation
- Provide a seamless, more joined-up user experience for the consumer as they see the same experimental variants across different channels.
- As they focus on the user journey, experimental results are more detailed and comprehensive, enabling them to be used with confidence to make business and UX decisions.
- Taking a more holistic approach provides better understanding and stronger customer relationships that can inform overall experience and engagement strategies, boosting brand loyalty.
- Brands can run more complex experiments, focusing on bigger ideas alongside more traditional tests.
- Running and monitoring omnichannel experiments through a single platform reduces set-up time and ensures reliable results.
- By involving teams from across the business brands help spread a data-driven, experimentation-led culture from digital marketing to the rest of the organisation, driving greater agility and aiding digital transformation.
- The power of experimentation is multiplied across many channels providing a boost in ROI.
- Test user behavior across the journey. For example, not only measure how visitors respond to a variant on your website, but how they react to the same concept when delivered through other channels, such as email or social media ads.
- Test wider concepts. Brands can experiment more widely, such as around potential new products and services, to give more detailed, omnichannel results.
- Deliver a personalized experience across channels, with the same offers, content and messages provided to the visitor.
- Identify and target visitors even after they have left your website with tailored retargeting ads or emails.
- Understand preferred channels for specific visitors and groups by testing who they react to experimentation across different channels.
The range of channels consumers now want to use to interact with brands continues to grow, driving the need for an omnichannel experience that is focused on the user’s needs and their individual customer journey. By adopting omnichannel experimentation alongside omnichannel personalization brands can extend the reach of their testing to better understand and meet consumer requirements, delivering an optimized experience that drives greater engagement, conversion rates and revenues.