In 2021, customers have never been more sophisticated. They have multiple touchpoints of interaction with your brand available at their fingertips, and they’re going to move through multiple channels before making a purchase. If they aren’t allowed to do this, or if the flow between the channels causes fatigue and friction, they’ll get frustrated and look elsewhere.
Omnichannel marketing recognizes this need for a customer-centric and integrated shopping experience. The customer must be at the center of all operations and interactions, and businesses need to work at building relationships and trust while providing a hyper-personalized experience, across all their channels at the right time.
In this article, I’ll be taking a look at what an omnichannel marketing strategy is, how it differs from multichannel marketing strategies, and how you can create your very own.
What Exactly Is an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy?
A unified message that responds to customer needs is the heartbeat of omnichannel marketing. No matter which channel the customer uses to interact with your brand or company, the message and, more importantly, the relevancy of that message needs to be customer-focused.
An omnichannel marketing strategy works with any channel, both online and traditional. After all, the vast majority of buyers will not always buy on their first visit to a store, after they’ve put items in their cart, followed you on social media or have given their email address to a squeeze page. They connect, research, and jump across various platforms and devices to weigh up the various pros and cons before committing to a purchase.
Omnichannel marketing supplies consistent unification of brand, voice, and message that is specific to each customer and changes to accommodate their needs. Different channels update with each new customer interaction. As the customer travels through various channels and purchasing stages, the communication adjusts to deliver a message at key points that are relevant to their journey.
Omnichannel Marketing vs Multichannel Marketing
At this point, omnichannel and multichannel marketing might sound really similar. But there are enough key differences to set them apart.
Businesses, and especially online stores, have been using multichannel marketing for a number of years now. Let’s imagine a business runs both a brick and mortar store and an online store while utilizing both these channels to promote their brand and engage with their customers with the same message. This is multichannel marketing.
With multichannel marketing, the customer might access a business via multiple channels, but the channels don’t interact with each other. Or, they interact very little.
Customers have developed a taste for more interaction between channels. If they buy an item online, they now expect to be able to pick it up in-store. If they leave their details with the business via the desktop version of the website, they expect the mobile app to remember them. This is omnichannel marketing – it’s when the channels connect and share data to provide a seamless and smooth customer experience. Hyper-personalization is key.
With omnichannel marketing, your brand becomes consistent because your marketing channels and sales become a single entity. This creates satisfied customers who are happy that you’re paying attention to them and their needs, which in turn yields significant long-term benefits.
Why do you Need to Implement an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy?
Omnichannel marketing, then, is the logical evolution of multichannel marketing. Here are some reasons why you need to implement it in your overall marketing strategy:
Better Customer Experience and Increased Customer Loyalty
Engaging your customers brings many benefits, such as improved purchase rates. Campaigns that use 3 channels or more have seen purchase rates rise up to 250% more than from a single channel campaign.
On top of that, when customers are loyal, they can turn into brand advocates, who spend twice as much as first-time buyers.
Ultimately, the numbers tell us that omnichannel customers spend once, twice, three times more with the same brand.
Apart from the gains made in customer loyalty and retention rates, omnichannel marketing can turbocharge revenue growth and overall sales numbers for businesses, both large and small.
How? For one thing, customer value increases. Reports have shown that omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.
This all tells us that omnichannel customers like to spend frequently – and they like to spend a fair amount each time.
Customers Save Time
Optimizing each of your channels so that they work together with consistency and provide tailored communications as a unified message allows for easier management, which saves your customer’s time.
Consider how omnichannel improves customer satisfaction by allowing an item that was bought online to be returned in-store.
Not only does it prevent them from having to travel to post the item, but it is also convenient if the customer would like to exchange the item.
They will then be able to make the exchange right there and then in the store, instead of ordering it online again and waiting for it to be delivered.
Customers may also prefer to use social media to get in touch with brands. By implementing the right social media tools, you can handle customer service issues, such as answering a question about delivery times or reminding customers about the items in their abandoned cart, all via social media.
How to Create an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy?
When you plan an omnichannel marketing strategy, there are some things to consider and key elements to implement:
Gather and Use Customer Data
Analytics is the lynchpin of your omnichannel marketing strategy. Using the data you already have will help you to determine the purchasing process and design a strategy around them. Observing the entire user experience from the viewpoint of your customer will define the buyer’s journey and highlight key touchpoints in their process.
From this data, you can develop rich buyer personas and segment your audience to create messages at a highly personalized level for different buyers. Aligning content with specific personas and journeys will improve overall ROI.
Individual channels and devices can be prioritized depending on performance, allowing you to provide a seamless, frictionless experience for each customer.
Invest in a Robust Martech Stack
To create an efficient omnichannel marketing experience, you will need the correct tools for the job. A martech stack is essentially your collection of marketing tools used together, and which your team has easy access to.
Investing in a good martech stack will smooth the process and allow you and your team to optimize your marketing efforts throughout the customer’s lifecycle by successfully designing, implementing, and managing a consistent, seamless omnichannel strategy.
The thing with a martech stack is that every business will have a different idea of what one should look like for them. Here are some tools to look out for when planning an omnichannel strategy:
- Customer relationship management software
- Email service provider
- Video conferencing solution
- Marketing automation platform
- Content management system
Top tip: Your martech stack must include software that segments your audience and deploys triggered emails to be able to deliver an omnichannel journey in real-time.
Implement a Customer-centric approach
Implementing a customer-centric omnichannel marketing strategy ensures that the customer can find all of the information they need and complete their transaction easily.
This can be done by ensuring data insights are gathered from buyer journeys and personas that can be leveraged to place your customer at the very core of your business. Analyzing and comparing results across channels will allow you to keep the user experience and customer journeys at the forefront.
Align your Organization’s Departments
Having consistent messages delivered to the customer is not enough on its own. For your omnichannel marketing strategy to be successful, all departments of your organization need to be on board.
This means everyone from the customer service department to the marketing department should be delivering the same message as one consistent and unified voice.
Feedback and insights should be shared across teams and departments to drive improvements and enhancements. It is worth taking time to make assessments of how each channel interacts and corresponds with another.
Make the Payment Process Seamless
Providing a smooth payment process is critical. Each buyer’s purchasing journey may be different, but desiring an easy and uncomplicated process to complete a transaction is universal.
There are several omnichannel payment processors available that help with transaction integration and facilitation. Providing payment services between each channel should have a level of synergy and cohesiveness.
Meaning that no matter what channel your customer purchases from, they should find it a similar ‘ease-of-use’ experience that is free from friction.
Omnichannel Marketing Examples
If you’ve got this far but you’re still struggling to visualize what an omnichannel experience looks like, or if you’re still not convinced it’s something you need to implement, let’s take a look at some brands that are implementing this type of marketing strategy:
Starbucks is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. They’re also one of the most forward-thinking when it comes to marketing. Their rewards app is a good example of omnichannel marketing done right.
With its simplified and unified experience, their loyal customers are able to check and reload their reward points wherever they are, and from whatever device. This kind of thing is essential for customer loyalty and retention, as it shows your customers that you care about them.
Customers can also order on the way with Mobile Order & Pay so they don’t have to wait in line, save favorite beverages, and manage their accounts.
Amazon is a great example of omnichannel marketing done right. They’ve actually gone on record as saying that they want to be “earth’s most customer-centric company”.
True, Amazon has more resources than practically any other company. But their approach can be adopted by any business that is able to think creatively and strategically.
What started as an online ordering service has expanded into mobile devices, Amazon lockers, smartwatches, and in-store purchasing. All offer the same user experience to their customers, with Amazon using data to put together a responsive, highly personalized interaction across all their channels.
What we can learn from Amazon is that they’re laser-focused on collecting and connecting data, such as demographics, purchases and customer behavior. They collect this from all devices and unify the data to create a seamless omnichannel marketing strategy.
As the customer-centric business model continues to take hold, omnichannel marketing will feature more and more in the marketing world. The next step is to put together an omnichannel experience for your customers.
This will take time and cooperation from your whole team, and it also means you’ll need to select the right technology. However, the benefits are huge, and implementing an omnichannel experience will mean you won’t lag behind your rivals.