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GUEST COMMENT Optimising the omnichannel customer experience

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Whether on a desktop PC, tablet, mobile phone, smart TV, website, newsletter, Facebook profile, hotline, print catalogue or live in the store, companies must communicate with their customers competently and personally across all channels. Here are my five tips for improving customer experiences across multiple channels.

Create time and cost benefits with centralised content for all touchpoints

Companies face a number of challenges when dealing with the many content channels out there. Before all else, content must be of high quality and personalised. But it must also be published immediately through multiple channels, ensuring consistent communication on all corporate, regional and product websites, the online store, on social media channels and mobile apps, newsletters and store displays. A central content management system (CMS) as the basis for all digital communication channels lightens the workload for content managers. When companies go about building a centralised content hub for omnichannel marketing, they must take into account usability, flexibility and time to market. Since they have to respond quickly, it is important for their marketing team to be able to act independently without having to ask IT for operational support. A centralised CMS also has the advantage that content created once can be used multiple times across different channels. This naturally saves time and, in addition to being more efficient, also ensures internal and external consistency on all touch points that a (potential) customer could have with the company.

Make it easy to contact customers on a personal level

The internet is becoming increasingly customer-oriented. In their early days, websites focused more on presenting products and services, whereas nowadays consumers are being approached on a much more personal level with customised content and offers. To pull this off, the CMS must be able to integrate customer data and information as well as how the website visitors behave. The easiest way to get started is to target customers, or authorised users, by sending them relevant content and offers based on purchases they have already made or to provide regionally relevant content through geo-targeting. However, arguably the most challenging approach to personalisation, that every company should consider, is behavioural targeting. Here, marketers define personas and scoring models in order to offer new website visitors relevant information in real time based on their behaviour on the website.

Score points with images and videos

In order to place videos, illustrations, images and other audio-visual elements on the different channels, companies should link their CMS with their existing 'media silos,' such as databases, digital asset management, media asset management, product information management or video management systems. Web products such as online image databases or image processing tools can be used centrally in the CMS through the FirstSpirit AppCenter. This allows multimedia content or product data to be used efficiently for several communication channels with the content always automatically adapting to the respective channel. This way, content managers don’t waste time or money by having to manually upload the same data twice.

Localise content while paying attention to keep your brand globally consistent

For companies that are operating in international markets or that are currently expanding, it is important to define guidelines to ensure a globally consistent omnichannel presence while also addressing distinctive local market needs. However, manual implementation and control is time-consuming. It is much more efficient to select a centralised CMS that not only meets omnichannel requirements, but also offers multisite and multilingual solutions. Through the CMS, users can control, analyse and improve all customer communications. Corporate communication can dictate and roll out uniform content while on-site marketing teams in the regional offices can also adapt and create content to match local requirements within a specified framework and based on the company's requirements.

Leverage the potential of social networks

Today, many companies have yet to define a comprehensive social media strategy. This is a major oversight as the use of Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts should be strategic. In the best-case scenario, these accounts can seamlessly integrate into the CMS and content can be published centrally through the various social media channels. And let's not forget about social media tools like blogs or surveys among users or followers. These support marketing experts in providing new information and enrich the website with relevant content. Perhaps the most important tip for using social media in omnichannel marketing is to remain flexible. With the current speed of digital transformation processes, companies must take into account changes and new requirements, and respond quickly. For this, the underlying IT systems must be easily expandable. That is why best-of-breed strategies and integration-friendly systems are more viable for the future than an all-in-one solution from a single supplier who is unable to keep pace with the market quickly enough.

Oliver Jäeger is head of global marketing and communications at e-Spirit, the company behind the FirstSpirit content management system.

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