With the advent of new technologies, more digital channels, and numerous social media platforms, the consumer shopping journey has undergone a complete transformation. Checking messages on smartphones is the new norm, getting recommendations from social peers is commonplace, and using more than 1 channel when making a purchase decision is now standard. In fact, numerous studies show that a large percentage of consumes make their purchase decision before they even walk into your store or reach out to your sales team.

The road to omni-channel marketing –interacting with consumers across multiple channels – is paved with challenges for many marketers who are trying to make a cohesive connection across the customer journey. More than one CMO is struggling to solve the question, “How do I reach today’s consumers?”

A report by the CMO Club revealed that 85.6% of marketers say that the biggest challenge to omni-channel marketing is consumer data that is unavailable or spread across multiple sources. Another whopping 84.6% do not feel they have the appropriate tools or technologies required for an omni-channel strategy.

However, NOT having an integrated customer view across multiple channels is no longer an option for businesses who want to stay competitive.

Integrate Your Data
While undertaking a data integration project may seem overwhelming and cost-prohibitive, the payoff is well worth the effort. As consumers interact with you through your website, email, customer service departments, and brick-and-mortar establishments, each of these interactions contain important pieces of information to better understand and engage with your customers as they move along the customer journey.

Consider the example of Charlotte, a millennial shopper who is looking for a new dress. She may walk into your store on a whim but may not yet be ready to purchase. But first she does some browsing, finds a great dress and scans it to her “wish list” before heading to the next store. You now have her personal information and wish list, and when this information is integrated into your marketing database, you discover she is a profitable customer who also buys accessories when shopping at your location.

By sending Charlotte a reminder to view her wish list, she heads to your website, orders the dress (and some accessories), and shares her experiences with her friends on social sites.

Without an understanding of Charlotte’s shopping journey, a valuable opportunity would have been lost to sell not only her, but also her friends who have now become new fans of your store.

Examples of brands engaging consumers across multiple channels are limitless. Starbucks for example does an excellent job of allowing customers to check and reload their rewards cards through multiple apps, including mobile, on their website, and at the store. As customers check their reward cards, profile information is updated so customer information is always current, allowing the company to send relevant and personalized offers. Companies such as Crate & Barrel, Sephora, and Chipotle have also done excellent jobs of providing seamless customer experiences across multiple channels.

Your customer data is truly the driving force behind successful omni-channel marketing. Data must be collected and integrated from online and offline sources, as well as 3rd party sources. Breaking down silos of data will establish a strong foundation to understand consumers as they move through the customer journey.

And when done right, companies will build brand loyalty, increase customer lifecycle value, and boost ROI.

Download DataMentors’ Retail Marketing Solutions Guide to learn how to better target omni-channel shoppers.