Omnichannel: The cornerstone of successful B2B marketing

Kevin Britt, country manager for UK & Ireland at Infobip, examines how omnichannel can be used to great effect for B2B companies

\r\nEfficient communication has always been the lifeblood of any successful business, especially when it comes to marketing. All brands, regardless of the sector they sell in, place tremendous value on the ability to communicate both quickly and effectively to internal stakeholders, customers, and new prospects. Although this principle has remained the same across the years, the available methods of communication have understandably changed over time. Email and SMS, two staples of the business communications environment, have been joined by a variety of services including automated voice, push notifications, and OTT applications such as Viber. There’s more opportunity for getting a marketing message in front of a brand’s target audience than ever before, but with these new tools has also come a degree of complexity.\r\n\r\nThe wide range of new services and platforms available have contributed to the situation businesses have found themselves in, where a one-size-fits-all approach to communications is no longer enough. And yes, contrary to popular belief, this isn’t only applicable to B2C. If anything, it’s all the more important for businesses operating in the B2B space, where marketing efforts often have to reach several very different channels at once.\r\n\r\nThis challenge has left marketers with the need for a single, unified digital communications platform that can be used to manage all these disparate tools and services to engage the end user. It’s no surprise, then, that an omnichannel messaging approach has long been identified as being best suited to fit the bill.\r\n\r\nAs a result, here are the five main considerations that all businesses must take into account when looking to introduce an omnichannel messaging platform capable of delivering a strong ROI:\r\n

1. Personalisation

\r\nSmartphone adoption, notification overload, and countless other factors have all contributed to the gradual change in personal preferences. Some business professionals prefer to receive updates via SMS. Many continue to rely on email, while push notifications and messages delivered through OTT applications are popular with others. Much like we’ve seen with the B2C environment, catering to the preferences of individuals for effective B2B marketing has become all the more important.\r\n\r\nBusinesses must consider this when they look to roll out a new omnichannel platform, ensuring the solution they choose has support for all the major communication methods currently available, and that support for future platforms will be quickly implemented too.\r\n

2. Technical implementation

\r\nEnterprises typically struggle with the initial implementation of an omnichannel platform on their existing IT infrastructure, or find it difficult to offer anything more than email and SMS together in a joined-up fashion.\r\n\r\nStitching together separate solutions in this way is neither efficient nor practical, particularly if there’s a later need to scale. It’s not cost effective either, which has led many businesses to delay the rollout of omnichannel as part of their marketing mix.\r\n\r\nFortunately, there’s now a much better approach. Global mobile messaging specialists are responding to this demand and rolling out omnichannel support for all major messaging platforms via the Communications-Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) model. This relatively new approach greatly simplifies how omnichannel can be both introduced and managed, helping businesses to recognise the true value of this technology and making it possible for them to tap into it far more quickly and easily than ever before.\r\n

3. Get the reporting right

\r\nHaving a professional omnichannel messaging platform in place is vital, but it’s only one piece of the overall puzzle. Being able to monitor, analyse, and report on engagement across all channels is also incredibly important. To make this a reality, businesses would be wise to consider how their chosen omnichannel messaging provider can support this. After all, once you know when, where, and how prospects and customers prefer to be engaged, a more receptive audience will follow for any further promotional messages.\r\n\r\nMore advanced messaging providers can offer a fully hosted, web-based platform that supports integrated messaging, user segmentation, and extensive reporting. For businesses, platforms like this offer an additional benefit in that they’re delivered through a web-based portal and therefore do not require any technical implementation or set up.\r\n

4. Have an SMS fallback

\r\nMobile platforms, as a communications medium, are in a constant state of flux. New platforms come, others go, and this all presents new challenges for getting your business message across to the right audience.\r\n\r\nChoosing an omnichannel delivery partner with a robust SMS platform and a longstanding heritage in in text messaging as a communications platform is essential as a result. Even in the age of omnichannel, SMS is still one of the fastest ways to engage decision makers. SMS is also a universal platform. It’s available on any phone and is the one method that’s capable of reaching users all around the globe. Therefore, it’s essential as an omnichannel communications fallback, to reach users where other channels cannot.\r\n

5. Do your due diligence

\r\nDon’t be seduced by a low price when choosing an omnichannel solutions provider. Ask the tough questions up front; if you need to send a large quantity of messages, can your chosen provider cope? Does their CPaaS platform offer support for reaching users around the world? Do they have solid, direct connections to mobile operators that are backed by the right security processes, ensuring your marketing messages can be delivered any the operation runs smoothly?\r\n\r\nAbove all else, it’s essential to do your homework before choosing a company and make sure they can cater for your needs. The benefits of omnichannel are well documented, but these benefits can quickly be lost if businesses fail to meet the expectations of their users or choose a provider that isn’t up to scratch.