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Measuring ROI From An Omni-channel Strategy

Karen Snyder, Senior Analyst
#Omni-channel | Posted

When an organization has invested its resources in an Omni-Channel strategy, it is only logical to pause and ask, “Is this really working?” But this simple question is not so easy to answer. While an initial assessment revealing an increase in traffic, sales, engagement, satisfaction, or other metrics may be considered a measure of success, it is not revealing how each channel may (or may not have) contributed to that outcome.

In order to accurately measure the success of the Omni-Channel experience, an organization must evaluate the performance of each touchpoint in a holistic way. This means that some of the traditional key performance indicators may need to be reconsidered, given the new ways consumers interact contextually with the brand.

Let’s take the retail industry as an example.

Retailers, for example, may need to rethink their interpretation of in-store foot traffic and sales per square foot. Similarly, they might need to reconsider abandoned online shopping carts vs. conversion rates.

Why? Because in an omni-channel ecosystem, multiple touchpoints are working in conjunction to drive success metrics. A sale made in a brick-and-mortar store may be the result of research conducted at home on the store’s website, or may have been inspired by a social media recommendation, or a coupon received via e-mail or clipped from a sales circular. The sale may have simply been an impulse purchase made by a customer returning an item purchased online.

Other questions worth considering are:

  • How does the company account for the impact of the merchandiser on that sale vs. the sales associate at the cash register?
  • Can the organization calculate the value of friendly assistance provided to the customer by a call-center representative prior to the store visit?
  • What role does advertising play in the customer journey?
  • How are TV commercials and radio spots influencing sales?
  • Are print ads and direct mailers driving digital traffic?
  • What about the efficacy of billboards, celebrity endorsements, corporate sponsorships and events?

With these questions in mind, you can see how things can be difficult to assess individually.

So how can you assess an omni-channel strategy?

The key  to determining the contributions of each channel is the definition of common metrics. Unless these shared KPIs can be established, there is no way to understand how each touchpoint is performing independently, nor how it is bolstering the others.

Data must then be normalized, and systems put into place to calculate the impact of each channel upon these goals. This is where Big Data struts its stuff, employing algorithms to provide insight and discover correlation among channels. These sophisticated analytics systems allow organizations to employ advanced attribution to properly assign fractional credit to the contributing channels.

These quantifications not only reveal the viability of the OmniChannel strategy, but also divulge strengths & weaknesses in the delivery chain.

Tracking a multifaceted approach is not new.

Marketers have long employed strategies to not only determine the ROI of earned, owned, & paid media, but to also understand how each content vehicle complements the others. A number of methodologies have been tested, and each has its strengths and weaknesses.

The “top-down” approaches effectively measure the impact of cross-channel marketing efforts (particularly paid advertising) on sales, the aggregate information provided can really only inform broad recommendations about how to budget across media to achieve the best results. “Top-down” models also rely heavily on less-frequently collected historical data that can require much consultative interpretation.

On the other hand, “bottom-up” methods can effectively measure performance at a very granular level using technology to process data in a timely manner. However, this approach best serves addressable channels that use unique identifiers to track user behavior, making it ideal for analysis of digital touch points, but not for offline experiences.

graphic showing the "top down" and "bottom up" approach

So what’s the best approach for omni-channel?

In an Omni-channel world, it makes sense to leverage a mixture of these two approaches to track KPIs. The combination of “top-down” and “bottom-up” analysis provides a comprehensive view of all touchpoints. Each step in the user journey is taken into consideration and each channel is credited with its contribution to the KPI. As attribution vendors hone technology to accomplish this ideal marriage of offline and online data analysis, expect to hear a plethora of new buzz words & phrases.  

Whether it’s defined as “unified attribution,” “multi-dimensional attribution,”“advanced attribution,”  “cross-channel attribution,” “pipeline marketing,” “person-centric measurement,” or “customer-experience performance,” the end goal is the same: to create synergy among all touchpoints. Read more about omnichannel in our whitepaper.

Karen Snyder

Senior Analyst