Omnichannel Marketing Is Preferred by 85% of Consumers

With the advent of the Internet and social media, choosing the right marketing channel to distribute your message to your target audience and create a stronger relationship with them is now more complicated. With all these choices, what’s important is to focus on selecting the right media channels for your customer base … both online and offline.

With the advent of the Internet and social media, choosing the right marketing channel to distribute your message to your target audience and create a stronger relationship with them is now more complicated. With all these choices, what’s important is to focus on selecting the right media channels for your customer base … both online and offline.

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar with Liz Miller, SVP of Marketing from the CMO Council. She shared findings from a recent study done by the CMO Council in partnership with Pitney Bowes titled “Critical Channels of Choice.” The study surveyed 2,000 consumers across five generations (Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation).

According to Miller, “Everyone assumes that Millennials and Gen Zers are all digital and that is the best way, and in some instances the only way, to communicate with them. The most critical finding from the study indicated that the channel of choice was in fact, omnichannel.” Consumers expect a seamless shopping experience, whether they’re shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone, or in a brick and mortar store location.

When asked to describe their communication preferences, consumers overwhelmingly agreed that one path to the brand simply isn’t enough … they want them all. Some 85% of consumers surveyed agreed that their ideal channel is actually a blend of channels, opting for a mix of both digital and physical experiences (Figure 1).

According to survey respondents, consumers prefer to have omnichannel marketing efforts directed toward them.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

Miller explained that print is alive and well. She said, “Perhaps most telling of this openness for omnichannel is that printed mail, considered by some to be one of the more ‘traditional’ channels in today’s marketing mix, is essential. It continues to be a highly valued channel of choice. One out of every three consumers surveyed expected printed mail to be part of their ideal communications mix. Brands need to reevaluate how they are leveraging and deploying all of the tools available in an omnichannel toolkit.”

While you might expect a divide across generations in terms of channel preferences, that isn’t the case. The research found that all respondents, regardless of age demographic, prefer a blend of digital and physical channels to pave their communications journey with a brand (Figure 2).

Based on key findings, there is a preference for a blend of digital and physical communications in marketing efforts, regardless of age.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

The study also pointed out that the deciding factors for channel usage by consumers include convenience, reliability, speed, personalization, and trust (Figure 3). Whether it is print, social media, or email, consumers are looking for channels that meet their expectations.

Critical attributes of must have channels.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

The Bottom Line

Given the drive for a seamless omnichannel experience, your customers will be looking for partners to help deliver the solutions consumers want. Print will continue to be integral to the marketing mix, but your offerings will need to be blended with social, mobile, and online channels, as well as brick and mortar point of purchase solutions. Service providers need to evaluate the role they want to play in an omnichannel world.

Trending: Consumer Review Sites Leverage Content, Social, Search Marketing

If you’re an Internet marketer, you know there are several online channels you can leverage without paying upfront for advertising, such as some banner ads or pay per click. Three online channels that are super-hot and showing no signs of slowing down include content marketing, social marketing and search marketing (organic). Each of these online channels have one thing in common: They all maximize content.

If you’re an Internet marketer, you know there are several online channels you can leverage without paying upfront for advertising, such as some banner ads or pay per click.

Three online channels that are super-hot and showing no signs of slowing down include content marketing, social marketing and search marketing (organic).

Each of these online channels have one thing in common: They all maximize content.

Recent articles in Forbes hailed that “content is the new SEO …” and that “content is king.”

My view has always been that with relevant, useful, valuable and actionable original content, you can’t go wrong. It will always work with the search engines, despite constant algorithm updates.

This is the core philosophy of my “SONAR Content Distribution Model,” but also has become more commercial- and consumer-driven with the use of product review websites.

A recent study shows 47 percent of consumers indicate the Internet is their favorite place to shop, and U.S. e-tails are anticipated to hit around $370 billion by 2017.

With all this Web surfing and shopping, it’s no wonder consumers are becoming more savvy.

An emerging trend in digital marketing is consumer review sites. These sites are populated with pages and pages of unique, relevant content that’s beneficial to the consumer. It’s unbiased. And has the main focus of harnessing the power of its content with the search engines, as well as social marketing outlets.

The website’s pages are crafted with targeted keywords based on the products or services being reviewed—many well-known brands—and honest feedback. Then it’s good ‘ole inbound marketing tactics, such as online press releases, article marketing, content syndication, search marketing and social marketing that drive consumers to the product review website.

The pioneer of this ingenious online marketing tactic was Cnet.com, which was founded in 1994. They have been reviewing electronic and tech products for years.

Other well-known consumer review sites that have popped up recently include Epinions.com and ConsumerSearch.com, which reviews products. CitySearch.com and Yelp.com review hotels, restaurants, entertainment and more. And of course, AngiesList.com, which is a membership site that reviews local service providers.

But recently, there have been some new players in niche and specialty industries that are creating a buzz. One such new kid on the block is BuyerReview.com.

BuyerReview.com focuses on the health and beauty sectors. This includes cosmetics and cosmeceuticals, such as skincare products, vitamins and supplements—a most robust marketplace, to say the least …

… The U.S. cosmeceutical industry alone represents $6.5 billion with a growth forecast of 5.8 percent annually through 2015. And nutritional supplements generated $32 billion in 2012 and are projected to hit $60 billion by 2021.

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of BuyerReview.com’s editors, Peter Stockwell.

I asked him how he would describe the site, what makes it unique and to describe the overall business model.

According to Stockwell, “Buyerreview.com is more targeted than many of the behemoth product review sites on the Web today. Sometimes when you’re too big and review too many things, consumers get lost on your website. Our team of editors reviews specific products in the vertical of health and beauty. We give honest reviews, as well as health and beauty advice.”

Stockwell continues, “Content is the cornerstone of the website. It helps the consumers. And it works with the search engines. With social marketing, it increases our reach and visibility. It’s really a blueprint for online marketing success.”

Stockwell adds, “There are several things that make us stand out: One is our BuyerReview Seal of Approval, which means our experts have reviewed a product personally and found it acceptable. Two, our editors (which, in addition to reviews) provide expert advice on health and beauty, which is an added bonus to consumers. Three, our Top 10 lists, which takes the best of the best we review and rolls it up into an easy-to-read product grid. Four, we offer consumers the option of getting product reviews delivered directly to them wherever they are, via email. And lastly, we offer free, weekly giveaways of the products we review. We like to think of our website as a one-stop shop for consumer health and beauty product interest.”

Stockwell concludes, “Once you have traffic coming to your site based on superior content, the opportunities are endless. Similar product or service review websites have went the advertising model and sell banner ads on their site for revenue potential. Others charge monthly membership fees. There’s many ways to monetize the traffic.”

Bottom line: There’s a way smart online marketers have turned leveraging quality content into a win-win situation that benefits its target audience, as well as generating revenue.

And the vast space on the Web is wide-open for more to jump on the bandwagon and carve out their own slice.

Marketers in most any industry can take something away from this online strategy and see how the fundamental principle can be incorporated it into their online marketing mix … because content will always be king, and consumers will always be curious.

Is There a Generation Gap Among Direct Mail Responders?

I was listening to a Direct Marketing Club of New York presentation recently by Covenant House, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping homeless kids in various cities. One of the challenges that the organization is facing is that its donor base is aging. The need to attract a new demographic among donors is apparent. However, its direct mail efforts haven’t been performing as well among younger prospects as it continues to do with its best donors—so the organization has turned to online channels in a bid to find these new, younger donors

I was listening to a Direct Marketing Club of New York presentation recently by Covenant House, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping homeless kids in various cities. One of the challenges that the organization is facing is that its donor base is aging. The need to attract a new demographic among donors is apparent.

However, its direct mail efforts haven’t been performing as well among younger prospects as it continues to do with its best donors—so the organization has turned to online channels in a bid to find these new, younger donors.

In 2012, Covenant House set up a series of petitions through Care2, an online community for social action. Taking on four subjects—child trafficking, emergency healthcare, aging out of foster care, and domestic violence—Covenant House asked consumers to sign petitions related to these various topics, some focused on Congressional action, for example.

With the names and online contact information of tens of thousands of signatories, Covenant House this year is taking on a three-part email series, each with specific creative relevant to the petition subject matter, to “nurture” the consumer toward becoming a donor—asking them to social share their petition support, watch and share a video related to the topic, and then, by the third email, respond to a call to action to become a donor. For those who take no further action by way of the three emails, telemarketing is used to reach and attempt to convert them to donors.

With positive early results, it looks as though Covenant House may find its way to a younger donor base successfully.

Covenant House has no plans to ditch its direct mail—even as it acquires new digital donors. That’s because its “omnichannel” donors (donors who give in more than one channel) are its most generous, giving significantly more than single-channel donors in either direct mail or digital alone. In addition, direct mail continues to be the “workhorse” for donor acquisition overall, and each channel has its own strategic use in such activities as reactivating former contributors, the organization reported.

But the younger=digital donor acquisition strategy identified here makes me wonder about direct mail’s future. Is Covenant House’s turn to digital because young adults don’t read their direct mail as closely as older Americans do—is there a “mail generation gap”? Does traditional fundraising creative in direct mail fail to resonate with younger people? Are digital natives simply online more often—and analog communication doesn’t register as forcefully?

Or, from the marketer’s perspective, is digital an easy, more affordable and more timely go-to for testing acquisition more efficiently?

Twenty years ago, before the commercial Internet, if a non-profit organization needed to attract a younger demographic, it simply tested a direct mail piece (or a TV ad, etc.) against the control within a targeted demographic segment—and adopted the new creative within the channel only when results proved themselves. That very same testing within mail could be just as effective today.

But why wait six weeks or more for a direct mail cycle to prove itself (or not)—when the availability of digital allows new formats, multivariate testing, and creative refinement and segmentation so readily and cheaply? Perhaps a generation gap does exist with direct mail—but also marketers are increasingly impatient: do not discount digital’s speed in testing, revising and engaging donors in real time, and how attractive these speedy attributes are to marketers and fundraisers looking to meet aggressive goals.

The only way to really know what works—and what doesn’t—is to test. Covenant House already knows its multichannel donors are worth more, so you can probably bet its digital donors will be getting a direct mail piece of one sort or another very soon.