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Elements of an Omni-Channel Digital Experience

Riche Zamor, Director, Strategy
#Digital Strategy | Posted

An omni-channel digital experience is not delivered through a single application or person. Successful execution has many moving parts, including integrated technology systems, cross-functional teams, and collaborative business processes. Omni-channel is best explained through its component parts – what we call the elements of an omni-channel digital experience.

Elements of an Omni-Channel Digital Experience

Context

“Context” is your organization’s understanding of a consumer’s needs, behaviors, mindset, motivations, depressors, and environment at various touchpoints along their customer journey. It is this deep understanding of how and why consumers engage with your brand.

When defining a hypothetical consumer’s context, you should answer these baseline questions:

  • What are they trying to accomplish?
  • What do they need to accomplish that goal?
  • What is their mindset when performing a task(s) to achieve said goal? What motivates them? What emotions prevent them from being successful?
  • What is the environment in which they are in when performing said task(s)?

When defining the consumer’s mindset, think about what they are focused on when they interact with your brand. Examples of mindsets include: “seeking information about a product,” “interesting in learning more about a topic,” or “ready to make a purchase.” The consumer’s environment, meanwhile, influences their behavior and perceptions. Examples of environments include: “on a laptop at work,” “on a cell phone on the train,” or “on a tablet at home.”

Context also takes other information into account:

  • Consumer’s past interactions with the brand
  • The behaviors of other similar customers
  • External factors unbeknownst to the user, such as upcoming product releases or promotions

While you should tailor your digital experience based on this contextual information, remember that not all of it is relevant. You must determine what context is important to drive the experience that is right for your brand.

Context is always evolving, so systems must be in place to collect and manage the consumer data in order to iterate on customer profiles. It is also a good idea to designate employees to manage and analyze these profiles.

Content

“Content” facilitates communication and engagement with consumers. It is what we deliver to consumers over digital channels to help them achieve their goals, while simultaneously driving them towards taking an action we desire of them.

Content is the currency that delivers value to consumers in digital channels. While design evokes subconscious thought and emotions within a consumer, content engages the conscious mind to influence decision making. Consumers determine the value of an omni-channel digital experience based on the content it delivers to them. Brands then receive some form of value back from the consumer by way of interaction (e.g. purchasing a product or sharing an article on social media), or responses (e.g. comments on blog posts or restaurant reviews).

Content should be adaptive – presented in a format, length, and appearance tailored to the channel on which it is consumed. Content should also be tailored to address the user personally, delivering information based on their mindset and environment.

Conditions

“Conditions” determine how your omni-channel digital experience is delivered to a consumer along their journey. Think of conditions as actions and reactions:

Action: A consumer visits the men’s denim section of your retail website from their mobile browser between the hours of 9am and noon on a Sunday, which happens to be when you release weekly sales.

Reaction: Because you know the user previously purchased a particular style of denim from your website, you display a promotion offering them 20% off for today on that same style.

Conditions connect the user need and your brand’s business objectives. Brands should infer from the actions of a user what they are trying to achieve and react by serving up content that both aids the user in accomplishing their goal and nudges them towards taking a specific action. If you find complete alignment between a consumer’s goal and your brand’s business objective, drive that user directly towards completing that goal.

Conditions can be programmed into a system by a person, or intelligent systems can be designed to determine the best reactions to consumer interactions. They may not, however, be housed in a single system. Your brand may need to employ multiple systems to drive the logic for your digital experience to a subset of your consumers, channels or platforms.

Touchpoints

“Touchpoints” are simply the channels and platforms to which content is served based on the aforementioned conditions. This may be your website, mobile app, Facebook, email, SMS, etc.

Touchpoints fall into three categories:

  • Digital Properties:  the systems you build, maintain, and own, such as your website
  • Digital Presences: externally owned and managed digital properties on which you have an account(s) or profile(s), such as Twitter, Medium, or Slideshare
  • Digital Messages: Avenues through which you can communicate directly with consumers, but do not maintain a digital property, such as email, SMS, chat, or conversational interface

Different systems can integrate with you content management system (CMS) to handle distribution to various channels. Distribution systems need to understand what content and experience to deliver based on the defined conditions, and be able to effectively deliver and report on said content.

Feedback

“Feedback” is the data served back to the brand from a consumer’s interaction with a digital experience. This may be in the form of digital analytics, transactional information, personal data, or customer feedback. You’ll need to develop a system to ingest this data from disparate touchpoints in a way that is useful to your brand.

Several systems may be needed, but ultimately this information should be aggravated and presented to measure performance against a set of key performance indicators (KPI’s).

Resource Planning for Your Omni-Channel Digital Experience

When developing your omni-channel strategy, plan the resources you will need as they relate to these elements. Resources are not just technological – consider what human, process, and financial tools are necessary to execute your strategy. This will help you to identify gaps and test assumptions.

Up Next

Learn more in our Omni-Channel white paper! It’s packed with background information on omni-channel, as well as practical strategies for creating your digital strategy roadmap. In addition, learn how Drupal 8 supports omni-channel and begin planning with our most recent blog posts!

Riche Zamor

Director, Strategy