Measuring Omnichannel Engagement: An Albatross Framework
Guest post by Audrey Brandazzi, Senior Research Analyst and Branding & Positioning Leader
Omnichannel engagement may be the single biggest challenge luxury brands face today. Gone are the days when your brand could control its image through a few boutiques, lush print ads, and carefully-selected celebrity partnerships. The modern luxury consumer actively seeks out brands at a dozen different touchpoints across four major channels (digital media, traditional media, the store, and personal recommendations). Brands no longer choose the medium of communication; consumers do.
We believe it is essential for brands to have a well-thought-out communication strategy, wherein every touchpoint contributes to the overall brand experience. However, we know that this is much easier said than done. There is no more common catchphrase in the marketing world these days than “omnichannel engagement”, and yet precious little practical advice for how brands can accurately assess and meaningfully improve their omnichannel experience.
At Albatross, we say our mission is to help our clients align their organizations to develop meaningful and sustainable relationships with their target consumers, and an essential part of that is aligning communications across channels. To this end, earlier this year we piloted a new framework for measuring how consumers perceive a brand’s omnichannel presence, allowing us to identify the touchpoints that are subverting the brands intended message and create specific, actionable recommendations for improvements.
The key is to see how consumers’ perceptions evolve as they are progressively exposed to a brand’s various touchpoints. We start by measuring initial perceptions: the feelings and ideas consumers already have about a brand when they first come in. This gives us a ‘base line’ against which we can measure how a given touchpoint shifts their perception. We also compare these preexisting ideas against the brand’s intended positioning. This shows us an initial gap: how the brand wants to be seen vs. how consumers actually perceive it.
Next, we expose the consumers to a selected touchpoint. It is important to note that, since actual consumers do not encounter a brand through any ‘standard’ sequence, this first touchpoint can and should be changed for different groups of participants. In this case, let’s say the consumer starts with the website—the first digital touchpoint for 50% of consumers, according to our research. We study their engagement of the website from several distinct points of view. What features of the site created the strongest initial emotional reactions, positive or negative? Which dimensions of the user experience enhance or diminish the consumer’s enthusiasm for the brand? Does the site confirm or undermine their pre-existing impression? What aspects of the site pull the consumer’s perception closer to the brand’s intended positioning, and which pull them away from it?
Then, we move on to another touchpoint—in this case, the store. Participants visit the store and record their experience using our established Store Performance Evaluation framework. By using this tool, we can not only analyze how the overall store experience shifted their perception of the brand, but do a finer-grained analysis on which specific aspects of the visit had the most impact: the store environment, the product range, the conduct of the sales advisors, etc. By using the knowledge we’ve built from ten years of store performance work, contrasting the consumer’s final perceptions against their earlier ones, and comparing both with the brand’s desired positioning, we are able to get a full picture of effectiveness of a brand’s omnichannel engagement strategy, as experienced by their target consumers:
- How close are initial consumer perceptions to your intended positioning?
- Is the digital experience aligned with the brand positioning?
- Is the store experience aligned with the brand positioning?
- Are the digital and physical touchpoints in harmony or in conflict with one another?
- Are any aspects of the digital user experience or the retail store experience subverting the intended brand message?
Ultimately, the end of this process is an answer to the most critical question of contemporary luxury marketing: what does your brand need to do to optimize your omnichannel engagement strategy?
If you’re interested in working with us to find your brand’s answer, please ask your contact at Albatross about our Branding and Positioning practice.