The omnichannel marketing series: channel splintering

Are all of your marketing channels working in concert to captivate prospects and seamlessly turn them into happy, paying customers? Can your customer get the same stellar experience no matter how they choose to buy from you?


Part I

In Part I, we established that omni-channel is the seamless integration of your marketing on all channels and devices. Resist the temptation to reinvent the wheel, and you’ll find each channel serves as a building block. They’ll lay the foundation for more channels that enable you to scale profitably and successfully grow your business.

Once you’ve established a baseline in a new channel, that’s when you start swinging for the fences with your testing. Discovering creative breakthroughs will allow you to profitably spend more in each channel, pushing the limits of their profitability even further. A true creative win, in any channel, also has the potential to optimize or even reinvent your overarching omni-channel message. These are the wins that cascade through your business to cause the kind of profit increases you’ve always dreamed about.

When you’re testing to find a game changing breakthrough, every variable is on the table. Messaging. Positioning. Language. Offer. Targeting. Promotion. Product configuration. Billing strategy. Price. Everything! It’s impossible to know which lever or levers to pull, so get prepared to start pulling them all. As long as you maintain a controlled environment to test the changes, the sky is the limit for what you can try.

However, now that you’ve got multiple channels firing off A/B tests regularly, you run the risk of slipping into another pitfall…


Beware of Channel Splintering

Maintaining omni-channel synergy requires a methodical approach to testing. If each channel splinters in its own direction and ignores your overarching strategy, they’ll fail to support each other. Splintering channels tear at the fabric of your larger omni-channel net, rending gaping holes that your potential customers will slip through. If someone sees your TV spot but can’t find the offer they saw on your website, you’ve lost them. If someone hears your radio ad, they may go to Google to search for a phrase they heard. If they can’t find you because the language is too radically different, (and you don’t own the AdWords) you’ll lose that potential customer too.

Preserving your omni-channel net will do more to improve the overall performance of your business than allowing deviant, channel specific changes under the banner of incremental improvement. Unfortunately, that presents a paradox for marketers. How do you test big swings without tearing your omni-channel net?

Here are 3 secrets to protecting yourself from channel splintering (testing tips that’ll allow you to cover your bases while still swinging for the fences):


1) Limit your testing budget. In the early stages of your campaign or business, most of your budget will be spent testing until you find something that works. The approach that rises to the top will dictate your omni-channel message and the vast majority of your budget will go behind it. Any other channels you have will need to shift in order to align with it.

Moving forward, you don’t need to overhaul everything, everywhere just to test something new. As long as you limit the percentage of your budget devoted to testing, you can take wild shots anywhere without sinking your omni-channel ship. Your new tests may lack omni-channel support, but as long as you measure relative performance, you can still discover breakthroughs without undermining your overarching strategy.


2) Measure relative performance. Without omni-channel support, your tests will be at a big-picture disadvantage against your control messages. However, focusing on relative performance ignores that and can be executed a number of different ways. For example, measure relative call volume or web orders by assigning unique 800 numbers or promo codes. Neither will give you the complete profitability picture, but they will reveal relative performance. That allows you to test creative messages, media intersections, region specific performance and more by looking strictly at the relevant variables.

Once you find a win, if an omni-channel shift is required to support it, the case for the shift becomes self-evident and should improve your overall marketing performance.


3) Isolate Variables under a clear objective. If the objective of your test is to reinvent your omni-channel message, that’s fine. But if it isn’t, don’t introduce variables that contradict your overarching strategy. Seemingly minor changes can lead to splintering and will gradually compromise your omni-channel experience. Introducing unnecessary variables will also muddy your testing and make finding a conclusive winner even harder.

Omni-channel is rapidly becoming the defining attribute in any successful marketing strategy. Monetizing its advantages and arming yourself against the potential pitfalls will give you a critical advantage in the marketplace. If you’d like to fast track your omni-channel experience, we should talk. At Marketing Architects we’ve developed the omni-channel infrastructure to give you everything you need under one roof.