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5 Steps to Crafting a Powerful Omnichannel Digital Marketing Strategy

Digital marketing professionals cleave to a deceptively simple maxim: Follow the customer. It's increasingly difficult to adhere to this piece of advice, as consumers engage across a widening variety of channels and become more challenging to track. Social media networks, mobile applications and brand websites are just a few of the many touchpoints that must be accounted for.

The good news is many brands already have a jump on omnichannel marketing. A recent Multichannel Merchant survey revealed that 90 percent of respondents either had a plan in place for tracking multi-channel customers or were working on one. Still, nearly three-quarters reported feeling unsatisfied with their current approach. To get over that initial hump, consider these five steps to craft a powerful omnichannel digital marketing strategy:

1. Start with Existing Customer Data

There's no need to jump into the deep end of data collection and analysis right from the very beginning. The beauty of widespread digitization is that it has created a large amount of data for brands to leverage in their marketing campaigns. Most companies already have databases filled with valuable information regarding their customers. Start there, probing for more details about your clientele and gaining a clearer understanding of their preferences and behavior.

2. Get a Few Easy Wins Under Your Belt

Go big or go home, right? Well, not exactly. One of the biggest obstacles any marketing strategy faces is getting leadership buy-in. Many great marketing ideas have been scuttled on the rocks of executive hesitation and uncertainty. Want to get top-down support for your omnichannel digital marketing strategy? Use what data you already have to establish a clear use case for holistic engagement. Once department heads and company leaders see an omnichannel-focused approach in action, they will be far more likely to green light more aggressive expansion.

3. Gather More Data

With that support in place, you can turn your sights on more data sources to refine your omnichannel strategy.  You want to cover as many touch points as possible, both online and offline, to fully capture the customer journey and map out each junction along the way in as much detail as you can. The more information you can gather, the more accurate your customer profiles and personas will be.

4. Remove Information Silos

Omnichannel strategies cannot work when data and marketing efforts are segmented within their own company. Multiple data silos within a brand impede progress by either closing off particular sources of valuable data or preventing total integration across all touchpoints and channels. In either scenario, marketers will only be able to view a fraction of the entire customer journey.

5. Solve the Identity Conundrum

This is where many brands run into trouble. How do you connect digital activity to a particular person? Consider that a single individual could have numerous digital identities. Their mobile app could be one, as could their Facebook account, email address and site login credentials. There are countless identities in the digital world, and brands need to clarify who the user is in order to personalize interactions at every touchpoint.

Customer identity and access management tools can help with that, using unique identifiers to connect a user's online trail to a specific person. That means brands can see precisely, for instance, the exact steps that led a site visitor to register for an actual account. It shines a light on a portion of the customer journey that had been previously shrouded in darkness.

From there, companies can sync their customer IAM platform with any digital touchpoint in their omnichannel environment, enabling them to gather data from mobile apps, microsites and social media networks, among other sources.

Social media platforms, in particular, offer an incredible amount of insight involving very little effort. Simply offering a social login option at the point of registration allows brands to streamline what would otherwise be a tiresome process for the customer while gaining access to valuable social media data. It's a win-win situation for both parties.

Leveraging a CIAM solution in this fashion creates a central point of operation for your omnichannel marketing strategy. Customer data and profile information are all housed in one comprehensive location, making targeted engagement easier than ever before. That's what omnichannel is all about at the end of the day: providing customers with a personalized brand experience that can't be found anywhere else.