Ratio - Header

Five steps to designing an omnichannel experience to attract and retain customers


It’s all good saying delivering an omnichannel experience is good for business but how do we define what a good experience is, let alone build one?

1) Identifying the good, the bad and the ugly

What the difference between a good omnichannel experience and a bad one and how to go about identify that?

Customer-first approach

When looking to identify the good, the bad and the ugly a good starting block is to go through a methodical step by step process of the journey your customers go through with your brand, and zero in on the pain points and any bottlenecks in the process.

In practical terms, this can take several formats of collecting both qualitative and quantitative data on how your users are interacting with your company.

Examples include:

Customer interviews/focus groups: 

These are sessions where consumers are either interviewed about their experience of engaging with your brand or their actions are observed and recorded.

Analytics and data:

Analysing your data is a good step towards understanding how people are interacting with your brand. The tools you use will vary from business to business but the common ones to consider are:

  • Web analytics (Google Analytics, Omniture, Web Trends, Kissmetrics)
  • Email analytics (Dotmailer, Campaign monitor, Mail Chimp)
  • Social media listening tools
  • Ecommerce tools
  • Net promoter scores
  • Heat mapping tools (Crazy Egg, Hotjar)

Focus on building out comparative reports with metrics covering interactions across different channels. For example, are the mobile metrics for a user journey wildly different from that of the desktop?

Analytics won’t necessarily tell us why there’s a break in the experience but will help identify some glaring glitches in your omnichannel experience (as well as building out a set of supporting KPIs to benchmark your experiences against going forward).

Comparison with other companies

This isn’t necessarily analytical in nature but running a comparison between the omnichannel experiences delivered by other companies is a must. Treat it as a SWOT analysis of the competition.

Don’t just look at your nearest competition, step outside of your own industry and look at the experiences delivered by companies which on the surface may be wildly different to yours but may offer a few tips you can borrow.

As for adding new changes to your own brand experience, if it doesn’t add value to the customer journey then either adapt or drop it.

2) Optimising touchpoints

A touchpoint for me is the moment of impact where a customer attempts to interact with a part of your brand, think, adding items to a shopping basket, purchasing an item, completing a form, sharing content. 

The goal is to identify as many of these moments of impact and look to optimise the experience by reducing friction and running tests (A/B and multivariate testing) to determine which experience materially improves your main metrics. 

3) Applying contextual messaging

Marketing has always been about identifying who your customers are and targeting those segments of customers with the right messaging and offers.

In an omnichannel world the same approach applies but now the challenge is to not just profile customers based on traditional demographics criteria (age, spend, location, persona, interest) but also to be relevant to each customer based on where they are in their journey with you and surfacing relevant content and messaging based on that knowledge.

Companies now hold far more data on visitors from the types of content they have viewed, device type, items previously purchased, whether they are a prospect or a long-time customer. Based on this data, digital marketers have the opportunity to leverage techniques such as:

  • Personalisation
  • Marketing automation

To deliver contextual messaging based on more than just persona to deliver a more personally relevant experience.

4) Breaking down internal silos

A major barrier with many organisations looking to deliver true omnichannel experiences is breaking down traditional ways by which business has been traditionally operating.

Different departments have their own KPIs and channel focus which they are measured against. For example, if your company has a team focused on email then understandably they are focused on delivering as great an experience as they can via email, whilst maximising their own conversions and key metrics. Same applies for other marketing teams focused on content, SEO, PPC, and social among others.

But in an omnichannel world, a customer engages with multiple channels, not just email or search or paid advertising. The challenge is:

1. How do we design an experience which leverages and integrates all channels?
2. How do we measure and reward the work of all departments in driving sales and revenue?

A large part of this is down to moving towards a marketing attribution model which rewards different touchpoints in a journey for their contribution to driving a customer towards a purchase and designing KPIs which take into allowance the value added by different channels and teams.
5) Getting the most out of technology and data

There’s no way of getting away from it. Technology is a key component of successfully designing an omnichannel experience focused on acquiring and retaining customers.

When looking at technology a good question to ask yourself is:

how is any piece of technology geared towards delivering a better customer experience?

You are most likely going to require several different systems in order to deliver a good omnichannel experience –

  • Content management system (CMS)
  • CRM
  • Ecommerce tools
  • Analytics
  • Point of sale systems

If the goal is to enable users to engage with your brand regardless of device or location, you will need your systems to be talking to and connected with each other in order to facilitate the flow of customer data across the journey.

Think of data as the digital glue, with data on each visitor being passed from system to system enabling a customer to carry on the conversation regardless of the technology which underpins the experience.