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The third omnichannel lens

Omnichannel has become so overused it's almost a cliche. But as overused as it may be, it certainly isn't over-executed. Geared towards making shopping seamless regardless of channel, omnichannel is a lofty aspiration with a hefty amount of operational, strategic, and interdepartmental headaches to navigate before a brand can truly realize its full potential.

Any seasoned executive knows that a goal as cumbersome as omnichannel must be measured if it's to be funded. How do we create and benchmark KPIs for omnichannel measurement? Pretty simple -- the way we do it with everything else:

Extent of reach to targeted customers

  • How customers were affected by the experience, and whether it spurred reactions
  • How memorable the experience was for customers, and how many later shared their experiences
  • How the experiences influenced return visits to the store

These are the benchmarks we measure for most media, and there are a litany of valuation terms and monikers we know and love behind every one.

If omnichannel is the goal, sales will be the ultimate KPI to measure its success by (in the end, it always is). However, media value is also essential. In a world now fueled by digital, are we getting the full picture if we don't dig in further?

Media is simply the means of communication that reaches or influences people to some degree. In the "phygital" world, now our everyday reality, that reach happens across home, life, and store. This means everything is a form of media -- including the brick-and-mortar experience.

It's not possible to strategically deploy omnichannel without connecting the ever-important store channel. However, for the first time, we are truly able to connect the digital paths. Mobile has evolved with true ubiquity, and digital media has seeped into physical environments via digital signage, interactive touch screens, phones, and more. The key point is that we now have the ability to synchronize clickstream (on any device, in any place) with the in-store data path -- a notion we will call "storestream" for lack of an established term.

"Hallelujah," we all shout, "We can finally connect the connections!" The challenge is that those we are only measuring part of the holistic media value.

As a cross-functional marketing vet of many years, much of it dedicated to in-store, one key point has become crystal clear: We must measure from the tried and true (reach/frequency/behavior) as well as sales. But there is a missing media value lens that actually drives it all, and that lens is emotions.

Emotions, not logic, drive purchase decisions. Emotions are incredibly important when it comes to why or why not someone was indeed "influenced" as a result of a media exposure. Yet emotions are the least measured, least understood, and the most potentially powerful outcome of said media. They are also why we have become rabidly allegiant to a new media acronym: EpX, meaning Emotions per eXperience.

The human brain floods with dopamine upon having a great experience. It's not logical, but it drives the rational conversations we have with ourselves to justify our purchases. Dopamine is also the glue behind positive emotional memory, which translates into advocacy behaviors. When we get happy because of a branded experience, emotions becoming "loyalty crack" -- we want more of that experience-based dopamine. And, according to the 2015 Temken Consumer Benchmark Study of 293 companies and 10,000 consumers, dopamine-fueled emotional experience trumps all other loyalty drivers -- price, convenience, and selection -- as the primary driver for customer loyalty.

Media-oriented emotions can appear as negative, neutral, or positive, and the brand's goal needs to minimize the negative, emotionalize the neutral, and amplify and scale the positive. There's a litany of tools that we rely on to track how people are feeling: ethnography, guerilla observations, biometrics, facial tracking, sentiment tracking, and more. It must all be noted and assimilated into models that provide us meaning not only to what's happening based on the exposure/experience, but why. Further, what valence/potency does each emotion carry, and how is it driving behavior and transaction?

Only by knowing how people feel can we truly prescribe solutions that will scratch that consumer itch.

This, in essence, is why the omnichannel world now covets three buckets of data -- behavioral, transactional, and emotional. Thanks to recent breakthroughs in neuroscience, wearables, and facial micro-expression sensing, this third and critical lens is taking its rightful position as a real, measurable business tool.

In an omnichannel world, dopamine drives dollars. And the EpX metric will become your new best friend.

Laura has been focused on creating meaningful brand experiences that bridge home, life, and store for over 20 years. Her experience is multifaceted, ranging across brand planning, digital engagement, store design and, more recently, next generation...

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