You only need to rewind about 15 years or so to remember a time when marketers were limited to communicating with their audiences across just three channels: Television, newspapers, and mail. This meant that marketers could communicate the same message across all three platforms with minimal detrimental impact, but the explosion of new channels and platforms over recent years has forced them to start thinking differently.

Thanks to the Internet, mobile phones and the proliferation of social media, we live in an omnichannel environment where consumers are almost always susceptible to marketing communications. This opens up a whole world of opportunities for marketers that are keen to think creatively about how they interact with their audiences, and when done correctly it can be incredibly effective, but it also means that it is no longer enough to simply bombard them with the same message across all platforms. Not only is this ineffective, but there is a risk involved in losing customers to other brands who are delivering seamless customer journeys across more channels, and therefore providing greater value for consumers.

In an ideal scenario, marketers can track each customer’s journey, then push personalised communications to them at every step of that journey. For example, let’s say that a customer opens their laptop and starts browsing for flights to Rio De Janeiro one day on an airline’s website, but ends up eventually abandoning the search without making a purchase. A week later, they find themselves on their smartphone looking for hotels in Rio via a different site, but they still haven’t booked a flight yet.

At this point, the airline is able to identify two things: 1) they haven’t yet purchased any flight tickets from themselves or any competitors, and 2) they’re still interested in going to Rio because they’re browsing for somewhere to stay. The airline can then use this data that’s been collated from two different channels to send them a message with a one-off flight offer to entice them into making a purchase.

This is the level of interactivity that omnichannel marketing can deliver with more comprehensive customer journeys in mind, but it’s not always so easy for businesses to deliver. Many businesses still rely heavily on ‘legacy’ IT systems that remain an integral part of their operations but are simply too outdated to communicate with other platforms in the way that effective omnichannel marketing requires.

Plus, if a business were financially and logistically able to upgrade their systems accordingly, it would still need to carry out subsequent updates every time it wanted to introduce a new platform or channel into its omnichannel strategy. Unless there is a serious business need to carry out these updates, the process needn’t be this complicated. Ultimately, as the number of channels and technologies that have an impact on marketers continues to grow, businesses must have the flexibility to frequently adapt its marketing systems while ensuring minimal disruption to core business applications.

To ensure a much more successful omnichannel approach, marketers require a solution that enables them to gain customer insights through multiple data sources , before using this data to orchestrate a seamless, multi-channel customer journey with no impact to underlying business-critical systems. Luckily, this solution already exists in the form of a data management platform (DMP).

Thanks to their sophistication, intelligence, and flexibility, DMPs are incredibly powerful and useful solutions that should represent the beating heart of any effective marketing operation. Once implemented into a business’ infrastructure they can be tweaked and customised at the most specific of levels to ensure that the right customers are being targeted with the communications that are relevant to them. No matter how niche the demographic segments might be, DMPs have the power to automate a personalised experience for each audience.

DMPs can help marketers to achieve the same over-arching goals, but they are not all the same. The most effective DMPs are both platform and system agnostic, meaning that old and new applications and data sources can be connected easily and seamlessly. As a result, marketers can benefit from even more accurate customer targeting thanks to the additional wealth of existing data available to them.

While DMPs allow marketers to leverage existing customer data to deliver strikingly personalised communications, they can also make it easier to take advantage of any new and emerging channels that may become popular with their audiences. Whether it’s a new social media platform, an artificial intelligence-based chatbot or even an offline channel such as a ticket counter system, these can be seamlessly integrated into an omnichannel marketing strategy when using a DMP as a customer-centric tool for data orchestration. This is extremely valuable for businesses who want to be creative and establish a presence on these new channels before the rest of the competition.

If marketers really want to connect with their audiences in a meaningful way, they need to be where the customer is. They must deliver messages which work for them, on a one-to-one basis, regardless of the platform they prefer. DMPs are the perfect way to achieve this, allowing for an incredibly high level of accuracy and personalisation with minimal changes to existing IT infrastructure.