The awkward teenage years of omnichannel

Dan McDermott, director of product marketing at Epsilon, was a recent guest on B2B Nation. The podcast, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice, features expert opinions & advice on the most important topics in B2B sales and marketing today.

In this episode, Dan and Josh discuss the state of email marketing, how omnichannel marketing has evolved, how marketers will change the customer experience in the next few years, MarketingSherpa Summit and more!

Below are five key takeaways from the conversation.

  1. A lot of the innovation that we're seeing has to do with customer experience and how email carries it forward.

Email is very important to the brand, it's one of the first places a customer will look to start to create that bond or connection with a brand they like. They may follow that brand on Facebook, they may follow them on Twitter, but really, the bond truly gets created with email marketing. It represents a stronger commitment on the part of the customer to engage that brand in a marketing relationship. It's very important from that perspective, and because it's that important, it's critical that brands really focus on the customer experience that email provides.

When we look at technology like live adaptive content, it's a great example, where we're creating true real-time live experiences for customers through email. That is really about evolving that experience, making email more and more a part of their daily routine, something that they can rely on for more of a real-time engagement and a true dynamic experience.

  1. Live content in an email campaign refers to content that changes based on where and when you open your email campaign.

For example, some brands that we work with have countdown clocks built into their campaigns that are counting down to a sale, or to a movie release, or to a big game. Every time you open that email, that countdown clock has continued to count down to create excitement, to create more engagement with the consumer.

There are examples that are more practical like email campaigns that have content that changes based on where the customer's located. If I'm flying from Los Angeles to Boston, and I land in Boston and there's a snow storm going on, I can open that email campaign and I'm going to get promotions for winter coats and hats and gloves rather than shorts and sandals.

  1. We're definitely still in the awkward teenage years of omnichannel.

From a technology standpoint, we're there. There's great examples of vendors and platforms that have created the technology that can enable those omnichannel marketing experiences, creating those omnichannel relationships, but really the hold back tends to be on the part of the brands and the organizations. They're not necessarily digitally prepared for that kind of environment, whether it's the fact that they still operate in silos, or they have multiple platforms that aren't really talking to each other in the right way. It's problems like that,that need to be solved before we can look at it holistically as something that we've achieved as an industry.

  1. The experience is really up to the consumer themselves.

Marketers talk about wanting to create an omnichannel experience for their consumers, but the consumer really dictates what an omnichannel experience is to them. An omnichannel experience, to me, would be very different from what it is for my 12-year-old son. We're looking at it the wrong way when we ask that question from a marketer's perspective. It's really going to be dictated by the consumer.

Consumers are going to decide what channels they want to have relationships with and with what brands. The important thing from the brand's perspective is to ensure that their message, their experience, their value proposition is consistent regardless of what channel they're engaging those consumers in. That's really the most important aspect of being an omnichannel brand.

  1. There’s a new blurring between the lines of marketing and customer service.

Marketing is really about building that relationship, and being able to anticipate the needs of the customer and serve the needs of the customer in a really proactive and effective way. It's less about what it looks like in the future, and more about how brands execute in the future. The Internet of Things is a great example. We can talk about all this really interesting technology that comes from the Internet of Things like internet enabled toothbrushes.

My son has a network enabled soccer ball that can teach him how to kick with more force and things like that, but what I tend to look at as a marketer is what are the opportunities that those kinds of networked devices are creating for marketers, and how do we provide better service to consumers because of those devices? That's where the customer experience revolution is going to take place. It's not really about the devices or the kinds of messages we can send, it's about how marketing becomes more about providing better service, relationships and overall experiences to those customers.

This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice, an Inc. 5000 company looking to help buyers find marketing automation software, CRM systems, and more. Interview conducted by Josh Bland.