The Innovation Cycle
Innovations, options and human response to them move in cycles. In the below diagram, it moves from stages 1 to 4 and restarts at a new “1”, where either technology or need satiation has shifted.
It starts with a few, new options. As they gather popularity, the options quickly proliferate through more players or more offerings from existing players. This starts diluting application, gradually stretching out investments and objectivity. Rising ROI
stress creates need for narrowed focus on fewer solutions. This brings in value-based trimming and the cycle re-starts. Somewhat similar to popular Gartner Hype Cycle.
Marketing channel proliferation
Marketing channel proliferation followed the same cycle as well. From few traditional channels, to few digital channels, then multi-channel (traditional and digital), followed by omni-channel (with unified value and UX over multiple channels), and finally
opti-channel (fewer, but optimum channels with omni-channel harmony). Less channels for concentrated and efficient impact. Using few best out of all.
Quite rationally, opti-channel is the most evolved media strategy. A natural next in the cycle of channel proliferation and very much follows the “Innovation cycle” we discussed at the beginning. Not that opti-channel is something new. However, it fizzed
out untimely, and here we want to revisit if it is still the next big step in media optimization. Most importantly, if it is still worth a try.
At the very root, opti-channel needs deep customer knowledge by personas, journey maps and life events. This essentially means lot of pre-work before even trying optimizing omni-channel capabilities.
For example, people have well defined affinities or comfort levels towards types of cuisines, clothes, TV stations, brands etc. It is same with channels as well. For example, my friend always prefers emails or phone calls as the best options for raising
a service concern. While text and social media are preferable for product information. Rarely did I find her checking product emails until referred in some text message or social banner. She is probably a customer persona type (say) XKZ and having a defined
customer journey type (say), EPES, mapped to her service touches, order patterns and established preference sets.
Power of less is more!
This means only four channels (and not all the available channel options) from a modern bank’s media capabilities (say ten) should be good enough to satisfy most (say 85%) contact events for similar customer type XKZ-EPES. Investments in the other six channels
for this persona and journey type will have a highly probable sub-optimal or even negative return leading to unaccounted revenue leakages.
Clearly, opti-channel is the most efficient media strategy option. Shift towards opti-channel was also being widely accepted as the unavoidable future. However, very few organizations finally embarked on that journey. Three reasons that majorly drove the
failing adoption were –
- need for creating deep customer knowledge, updated on a regular basis
- well established omni-channel marketing infrastructure
- seamlessly connected back, middle and front offices
As you will agree, each of these three are almost like moving mountains, at least from an enterprise standpoint. This calls for well-coordinated investment pipeline, objective vision, technological agility and corporate stewardship. The market seemed pre-mature
than the idea. Question is, are we ready now?
Let us find out if there is a generic and brief laundry list of action items for setting up a successful opti-channel marketing outreach infrastructure stitching together these three challenges:
1. Deep Customer Knowledge – Understanding every customer’s current needs and priorities, expected future needs, channel preferences, life & live events etc. and weaving all this information into a single point of three-dimensional view is the holy
grail of opti-channel capabilities.
2. Omni-channel Marketing Infrastructure – the foundation of true omni-channel capability with synchronized UI & UX across channels, connected by real-time data flows including required validation and checks is essential to narrow down omni-channel
into opti-channel outreach.
3. Connected back, middle and front offices – Customer intelligence from the back office, the technical stack connecting all channels with data processing (the middle office) and multi-channel UI (the front office) need to amalgamate seamlessly for
effective omni-channel workflow. With an automated, well governed and near real-time flow, true power of opti-channel can unleash.
If all the above three pillars are treated as ideal milestones, journey towards them will enable opti-channel marketing orchestration turn into a reality. The power of omni-media but optimized to the right amount and cost for the right type of target audience
– a real win-win situation! It is surely worth a retry.