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Building an omnichannel strategy is a requirement in the age of the digital consumer, but marketers must take it one step further by adopting an optichannel approach.

Omnichannel is a term that anyone in marketing, retail or customer experience is undoubtedly intimately familiar with. Most companies are well down the path of implementing customer experience strategies across every digital medium including computers, smartphones, tablets and social media. In a world dictated by the habits of the digital consumer, establishing a presence on each available channel is a necessity. In 2015, Forrester Research found that U.S. consumers spent $1.5 trillion on purchases in-store that started through digital touchpoints—proving the power of the omnichannel. 

While an omnichannel strategy is essential, it would be naïve of marketers to believe that omnipresence alone will be the key to increasing revenue. Marketers should be aware that ubiquity doesn’t necessarily equate to efficacy, and that omnichannel is just the first step in a more complex approach that really drives customer experience: the optichannel.

Beyond multichannel or omnichannel, optichannel refers to the ability to communicate and support a consumer’s shopping and buying process using the channel that is best for them given their overall objective. In other words, it’s not enough to be all places at all times—you must be in the right place at the right time. Marketers need to move beyond siloed channels of marketing and embrace an approach that connects with a customer on the best channel for their needs and preferences in real-time. To achieve this, brands need to be able to identify not just transactional and behavioral patterns of a customer, but contextual information.

Context drives the optichannel experience

A lack of insight regarding context paired with an effort to be everywhere at once is creating a growing disconnect between how brands are attempting to deliver their message and how customers want to be communicated with. Despite the widespread embracing of omnichannel, today’s consumers are ignoring organizations’ marketing outreach. A Boxever survey found that nearly 70 percent of consumers are using ad-blocking apps on their phones because the mobile ads they receive are irrelevant and don’t add any value. Irrelevant communication is inexcusable in a digital age that offers brands the opportunity to consider context based on data.

Brands that act on contextual data will be in the best position to deploy an optichannel strategy. Consider the context a typical business traveler might find themselves in when researching flights for a business trip to an annual conference. In this scenario, the traveler “Jim” usually books personal vacation flights through a mobile app that’s connected to his personal PayPal for a simple one-touch checkout, which he loves. But given that he’s looking for a business flight and paying with a corporate card, he needs to book on his company desktop. If an airline has a smart, robust profile based on Jim’s contextual data, they’ll be able to know when he typically looks to book flights for that annual conference, and send him the best possible offer to his work email. Right place, right time.

Any brand that can create that level of convenience for a customer stands to earn a distinct competitive advantage and long term loyalty. Context isn’t just a good idea when you’re taking a multichannel approach to marketing; it’s an absolute necessity to delight customers and earn their trust, loyalty and satisfaction. Marketers building an omnichannel strategy deserve kudos for making innovation and customer experience a priority. The next step is the recognizing the importance of harnessing contextual information in order to service customers at the optimal time, through the optimal channel.

Download our survey report to find out how travel brands are creating seamless, personal experience: The Rise of Relevance