Gone are the days when there was a single channel that brands used to engage with customers. The digital customer of today is omnichannel. While each of us may have our preferred channels, interaction goes across channels. Brand properties now encompass not just websites and apps, but also the social media channels. From Facebook to WhatsApp to Twitter to Instagram to YouTube, all are creating ways to enable commerce. Communications are leading to conversations which in turn shows the way to commerce. The primary push channels are also becoming 2-way: email to Email 2.0 and SMS to RCS. WhatsApp is opening up rapidly for business enablement. Push notifications are being enriched with media. Across all these channels, brands need to create a unified view of each customer by feeding data into a CDP (customer data platform) and then building AI-powered journeys and next best actions for segments (of one).
Martech automation platforms have been seen as the key to making omnichannel engagement work. But they only start their work once customers open the app or land up at the website. What gets them there? It is the hotline. That is why hotlines must be seen as upstream of journeys. Because the customer is omnichannel, so must the hotlines.
We have discussed how AMP and Atomic Rewards can transform email into Email 2.0 hotlines. The same idea of Atomic Rewards can also help with the other push channels. Micro-incentives for actions can help continue the hotline across the other channels. The objective is to create habit loops – where messages sent by a brand are not ignored, and the feedback provided by customers helps make the messages more relevant.
I wrote in an essay introducing the Atomic Rewards idea a few months ago: “Purchase moments need to be preceded by persuasion moments. An atomic rewards program is the perfect driver for branding, delighting, positioning and decision-making. This space is a blue ocean as of now – with no competition. In a non-digital world, brands had little direct control on the customer relationship. But now, right from early interest, brands can track and identify individual customers, each of whom has a set of unique attributes (email address, mobile number) that can identify them across sessions and conversations. This enables action earlier in the funnel, which in turn creates the opportunity for atomic rewards. Atomic rewards can be offered to existing customers for their attention and engagement in push messages (emails, SMSes, push notifications), and on a brand’s owned properties (website, app). There is also an opportunity to offer rewards much earlier in the purchase cycle for future customers – in ads that are run, or via the physical product itself … Atomic Rewards…is the answer to the problem of attention recession that confronts every marketer. Attention and engagement need as much focus as marketers are doing with customer journeys, onsite and in-app experiences, and transactions.”
Omnichannel, powered by Atomic Rewards, thus becomes the third pillar for building the hotline. The final pillar is the Micronbox.