Omni-channel (if you haven’t heard it, you will soon) is the word used to describe the strategic ability of an organization to engage with clients fluidly, in real-time, and 24/7 across a growing selection of digital platforms including mobile phones, tablets and wearables.
Let's look at the difference between multi-channel and omni-channel:
Addressing omni-channel isn’t limited to new graphic design principles used to optimize content across different channels or the ability to provide relative, responsive content 1:1. It represents the totality of a single buyer’s journey and the intuitive, strategically available content that envelops that journey. Things are moving so very fast however, that building business the omni-channel way can seem overwhelming in terms of technology. Good news: It really isn’t, notes the Content Marketing Institute (CMI):
“Every aspect and subsystem of an adaptive, dynamic, personalized content delivery platform and strategy has already been done. Your customers are more than ready. It is now a race to see who will meet the customer expectations first.”
Bad news: Your content may be standing in the way.
Yesterday’s customers were used to a static content experience. Businesses took a “build it and they will come” approach to content, using their website as a kind of content “home base” that customers and prospects could rely on for the most up-to-date information on products and services, industry knowledge and general goings-on including awards, news and special events. Today, customers expect content to follow them as part of a fluid, intuitive conversation across channels, devices and experiences. In order for content to do that well, it has to be flexible enough to relate to any one person’s journey while maintaining the cohesiveness required to provide a consistent brand experience.
Sounds like a lot, but remember, the technical intricacies of engaging the right people with personalized, relevant, intuitively-timed content has all been worked out. Some content groundwork, however, remains in your court. Achieve this, and you’ll put your company on course for omni-channel overdrive.
Prevent legacy content at every pass.
When the Internet became a B2B communications medium, brick-and-mortar stores raced to make their presence known and plastered content wherever they could. As the medium progressed, content became more streamlined and the task of continually shaping it to be relevant, engaging and accessible took center stage. Now companies lingering at the edge of the omni-channel divide have choices to make about legacy content before they make that next move.
Why should you care about legacy content? Legacy content can quickly become irrelevant and off-brand unless it was strategically written for a long shelf-life (often content like this is referred to as “evergreen"). Launching a targeted message campaign or rebrand with legacy content still floating around weakens business results, causes confusion, and ultimately interrupts a user’s experience—a faux pas that can lead to lost credibility and abandoned conversations.
So, where should you begin?
- First, take inventory of your content online and elsewhere.
- Then, clear out content debris and keep only that which is relevant to the conversations you want to have (this step sometimes, but doesn’t have to, involve a complete website overhaul).
- Finally, understand that legacy content is not just the outdated case study you published online in 2009. The relevance of even your newest content is at stake if it isn’t created or repurposed with an omni-channel experience in mind.
Build Buyer Personas as a Benchmark for Optimal Content Development
Content cohesiveness isn’t just about sticking to brand guidelines and customer pain points anymore. Well-crafted B2B buyer personas enable companies to tailor conversations to those tasked with researching and vetting a product or service as opposed to having one-sided, generalized conversations that don’t resonate with the individual experience.
Buyer personas are critical for omni-channel readiness because they give marketers a deeper understanding of a more narrowly defined audience and create the message the audience will be most receptive to. Buyer personas are hypothetical archetypes of actual customers derived from a combination of social media insight and strategic interviews with real people who fit the identified persona. A well developed buyer persona will lay out the life of your decision-maker in great detail from what they do in their spare time to what their work goals are and what criteria they use to decide yea or nay on a purchase (and so much more).
Finally, adopt an adaptive content strategy.
Creating highly relevant content is the name of the game now. Whoever does it best, wins. Companies more and more are adopting an adaptive content strategy that is relevant not only to a B2B buyer persona but to the context of time and space that persona is in.
"Adaptive content is a content strategy technique designed to support meaningful, personalized, interactions across all channels."
More than simply adapting the design of your content to optimize it for viewing across different devices, an adaptive content strategy supports intuitive engagement not only at a single business touch point (user clicks “a,” response is “b”) but at every possible combination of touch points at any given time, create a dynamic and immersive experience with your business.
More from CMI about adaptive content including real world examples can be found here.
Omni-channel success is the next great divide that can put you in front of your competition or cause you to fall behind. Omni-channel done right means abandoning the concept of simply selling to your customer and embracing their desire for an immersive experience that will help them make purchasing decisions easier by giving them what they need, when they need it at every given touch point along the way. The technological framework for omni-channel success is readily available in any number of B2B solutions—all you have to do now is feed it the right content.
Could you use help creating your B2B buyer personas? Our new ebook explains the process and provides examples to guide you.