Channel-Less Marketing: Why Your Brand Needs Channel-Less Communication
Retailers and marketers know what channels are. The terms “multichannel” and “omnichannel” have been around for years. But the truth is, customers don’t care about channels.
They want a cohesive and personalized experience they can access wherever they go. And increasingly that’s what they expect. So how can retailers create a seamless omnichannel experience?
The answer is channel-less marketing. This marketing approach takes the focus away from the channels themselves, and instead puts the onus on creating a seamless experience for the customer, no matter how they interact with your brand.
In this guide you’ll find out everything you need to know about channel-less marketing, including how it differs from omnichannel marketing, and how channel-less marketing could benefit your business.
In this channel-less marketing guide:
- What is channel-less strategy?
- Why channel-less marketing?
- The benefits of channel-less approach
- What does a channel-less experience look and feel like?
- How to get started with channel-less
- Frequently asked questions
What is channel-less strategy?
A channel-less marketing strategy is similar to omnichannel marketing in that it strives for fluidity across channels to make the customer experience as seamless as possible. However, channel-less marketing is unique in that it omits the idea of channels altogether.
Channel-less communication takes place when customer communication across multiple channels is linked into a single smooth conversation. The channels themselves become irrelevant – creating a cohesive customer experience.
A channel-less strategy uses channel-less communication to improve the overall customer journey. It should make interacting with your brand cohesive, effortless, and consistent, no matter which channel the customer uses or which stage of the purchase journey they’re on.
Why channel-less marketing?
Think of channel-less marketing like the analogy of the chef and the diner. The chef knows and understands the complex process involved in every stage of preparing, cooking, presenting, and serving a meal. The diner only experiences the finished product on their plate. This is the same as the channel-less strategy – the marketer knows the complex role of every channel in reaching the consumer, but the customer only enjoys the seamless brand experience.
The modern customer doesn’t think – or shop – in the confines of channels, so why make channels the focus of your marketing approach? According to a 2017 report by Microsoft, most 18-to-34-year-olds use six or more customer service channels to talk to brands, and three quarters of customers expect agents to know their contact, product, and service history.
Channel-less marketing removes the pain point customers loathe – having to repeat themselves.
A channel-less strategy instantly adds all new customer information from each interaction into one ongoing stream. So whether they contact you by telephone, social media, instant messenger or chat bot, all their previous communications are available instantly. It can also be applied to consumer interactions like abandoned baskets, recently viewed products, and much more.
Channel-less communication is also becoming the norm in people’s personal lives.
Your customers might WhatsApp their friend, like their Instagram post, email them a recipe and tag them in a Tweet all in one day, with the communication across channels forming a seamless conversation. When they come to communicate with your brand, they expect the same interaction.
Many retailers are coming around to the idea of channel-less marketing. A survey of 500 leading North American retailers found that their top priorities are personalizing the customer experience (62%) and aligning it across mobile apps and the web (54%).
Brands are no longer looking at channels in isolation but rather how they work together. In other words, they’re creating a channel-less experience that’s centered on the customer journey.
The benefits of channel-less approach.
The channel-less approach has a multitude of benefits for brands and customers.
- Personalization. With all customer data stored in a single centralized location, you can provide a truly personalized experience for your customers at every touch point. This improves the customer experience, which in turn improves customer loyalty and brand reputation.
- Accessibility. Channel-less communication breaks down barriers between the customer and your brand, making it easier for them to contact you on their preferred channel. Whether they’re a millennial who hates phone calls or someone with hearing loss, they can reach your customer service team with ease.
- Transparency. A complete log of every customer’s interaction with your brand means you have all the information you need to deal with issues or complaints and review processes to make improvements.
- Simplicity. Channel-less makes it easier for your customer service team to do their jobs and creates a smoother, seamless experience for the customer.
- Flexibility. Customers get the same shopping, payment, and delivery service across channels, with any issued resolved swiftly and efficiently.
What does a channel-less experience look and feel like?
A channel-less experience becomes a natural part of your customers’ lives. It makes shopping effortless—something they never have to think about. Every branded experience is personable, shoppable, and unified.
What exactly does that look like? Here are five characteristics of a channel-less experience:
1. It’s portable.
Wherever your customers go, your brand should be right there with them. And that means a mobile experience that’s inextricably connected to your in-store experience. Your mobile experience should let customers know about deals in their local store. And sales reps should recognize online customers when they walk through the door.
For example, let’s say a customer visits an electronics store. If there’s a sale on products they’ve searched for online, they might get a push notification on their phone. Or, if they have a question about a product demo, they can contact a salesperson through their mobile rather than having to physically search the store or wait while they help someone else. And that salesperson on their mobile will know their preferences, order history, and location.
2. It’s relevant.
Your customer experience should be relevant to each customer’s needs, preferences, and location. They should receive product information that looks great, speaks their language, and tells them everything they need to know. When product information is contextually relevant, consumers are significantly more likely to buy. Some research suggests it can increase conversion rates by up to 400%.
3. It’s personalized.
Whether they’re on their phone, on their computer, or in your store, customers want to get personal. In fact, 63% of customers say they want more personalized product recommendations.
This is also good news for you. A survey of 1,000 shoppers ages 18-64 suggests consumers are 80% more likely to buy when brands offer personalized experiences. Moreover, consumers who believe personalized experiences are very appealing are ten times more likely to become your most valuable customer—those who make more than 15 transactions in one year.
4. It’s transparent.
Consumers want to know where their orders are at every stage of delivery. 73% of customers want order tracking across all touchpoints. And they want access to their whole history with your brand, whether they bought online, in the store or through your retail partner. Ideally, they’d like to do this through their mobile and desktop ecommerce website.
5. It’s flexible and responsive.
Consumers want an experience that’s both flexible and responsive. No matter where or how they shop, customers can choose between many options for payment, shipping, and delivery. And, when things go wrong, they want brands to act quickly and provide frequent updates until the problem is resolved.
How to get started with channel-less.
The channel-less experience is all about building connections. Rather than treating each channel as an island, you must think of them as nodes on a network. For many omnichannel retailers, this can be a challenge because some of their channels are powered by legacy technologies that are difficult to connect into a seamless whole.
But brands which already use omnichannel can use the foundations to build a channel-less marketing strategy that your customers will love.
Frequently asked questions about channel-less marketing.
Why is the channel important in communication?
In channel-less communications, the channel isn’t important. You’ll be able to communicate with your customers across channels seamlessly, picking up where you left off with them with access to all your prior conversations.
What is channel-less CRM?
Channel-less Customer Relationship Management is when communication channels are linked to create one smooth conversation between brand and customer. Doing this makes the channels used irrelevant and puts the focus on the communication instead of the medium.
How does channel affect the communication process?
Brands that don’t use channel-less communication might force their customers to repeat themselves multiple times across channels when they get in contact. This can lead to frustration and customer dissatisfaction – potentially creating a negative brand reputation.