“Omnichannel marketing” – a term you most probably have heard thrown around in recent years. Especially if you’re a marketer or business owner, you’ve highly likely been encouraged to implement it as part of your business strategy. But what does it mean?
Omnichannel marketing is a cross-channel content strategy that businesses use to improve their customer experience. It helps your business meet its customers where they are and allows them to engage with your company in the way that suits them best. You can think of it as the intersection between marketing, sales, and customer service—where all three of these elements come together to create a unified customer experience.
You’re researching online to purchase a product. After a couple of websites, you finally found something really suitable with an attractive offer. Sounding too good to be true, you wanted to clarify the offer. So you pick up the phone and call their hotline, only to have their staff saying that there is no such offer and that it’s been sold out. Have you experienced a similar situation? If you have, then you probably know how frustrating and disappointing it can be to deal with inconsistent messaging. Not to mention the time lost on researching and finally deciding on this product.
On the flip side, consider this:
Let’s say there’s a brand you really like. You visit their website, saw a few new products you like, read some reviews and blog posts, and sign up for their newsletter. Once you subscribe to the newsletter, you get sent an email promoting a sale at one of their brick-and-mortar stores nearby. You go to the store and find that the sale includes some of your favourite items from the online store. Since you’ve been following the brand on social media, you also know when they restock certain items if they run out of them in specific sizes or colours at the store.
Isn’t the second buying experience a whole lot more pleasant? Plus, you were given a discount online to purchase your favourite products in-store, without even expecting it.
That, is omnichannel marketing done right. The idea is to craft and give your customers a seamless experience of interacting with your brand both online and offline. Customers’ perception of your brand should improve more and more as they interact with your brand across multiple channels. They shouldn’t have to worry about finding things or information or needing anything explained twice.
Omnichannel vs. Multichannel
“Wait a minute, I am already implementing multichannel marketing, so what’s the difference?”
Great question! Omnichannel marketing is like multichannel marketing, but more. Both use multiple channels to reach out and communicate with customers – but that’s where the similarities end.
When you use omnichannel marketing, you want to make sure that all of those channels are working together seamlessly to provide your customers with a unified experience. Multichannel marketing usually just means that different teams are using different channels in different ways, often without synchronisation. Omnichannel marketing aims for the opposite – to make sure that every time a customer interacts with your brand on any channel, they are getting the same experience and information.
No longer an option but a necessity
In today’s world, customers expect businesses to do omnichannel marketing. They may not be familiar with the term, but these stats show that it is already ingrained in our day and age.
- Today, customers use an average of almost six touch-points with nearly 50% regularly using more than four (CX Today)
- 6 in 10 internet users start shopping on one device but continue or finish on a different one (Google)
- Omnichannel customers spent an average of 4% more on every shopping occasion in the store and 10% more online than single-channel customers (Harvard Business Review)
- Businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that don’t (Aspect Software)
It is now more important than ever that businesses are able to provide customers with an experience that moves seamlessly between channels – whether they’re on the phone, messaging on WhatsApp, interacting on social media, or purchasing in-store. And if your team can’t do that, then you might be doing your competitors a favour of sending customers their way.
5 key lessons for success
But how do you get started? Or if you already have an omnichannel strategy in place, how can you make sure it’s actually working? Here are five key lessons that are crucial for a successful omnichannel marketing strategy:
1. It is all about consistency
A big mistake that many omnichannel marketers make is not aligning their message across all channels. This can lead to serious confusion among your customers and ultimately make them less likely to purchase from you.
If you think about this from your own point of view as a customer, would you buy something from a brand that has different messages depending on the channel? Probably not!
Creating a cohesive message across all channels can be tricky, but there are ways that you can achieve it. For example, you could:
- Have regular team meetings to discuss communication strategies and share best practices
- Designate one team member as being responsible for messaging, who will then distribute it across the business
2. Customers don’t care how your business is structured
This is an important point that many businesses forget – customers don’t care how your business is structured. If they see an ad on Facebook and decide to WhatsApp your business to enquire, but then chose to call instead the next day, they expect whoever is answering the call to pick up where the WhatsApp conversation left off instead of starting the enquiry process all over again. They don’t care if these WhatsApp conversations or calls are being handled by different divisions of your company or external partners – they just want to know more about what they see advertised, when they want it, with the channel that is most suitable for them at that moment.
In addition, customers don’t just buy the product or service, they buy the experience. If a business doesn’t make an effort to personalise its communication with them, they very quickly and easily switch to a competitor. So make sure all aspects of your service are personalised and seamless as well — right down to the way you greet each customer by name when they use different channels.
3. Don’t focus solely on cross-selling and upselling
While omnichannel marketing definitely provides added opportunities to cross-sell and upsell, focusing purely on these goals are short-sighted and can easily frustrate customers. These will condition them into thinking all you care about is getting them to spend more money. It doesn’t account for the customer journey.
Customers often enter your store or website having done some research and are at various stages of the buying process. Rather than focusing strictly on selling, first determine where customers are in their journey and then tailor your content, recommendations and messaging accordingly. Subsequently, nurture that interest by following up with an email or social media message about the same product or service.
4. Marry your content marketing strategy with your omnichannel marketing strategy
While content marketing and omnichannel marketing are different, they are inextricably linked. And ignoring this connection could mean not only missing out on sales opportunities but missing out on invaluable customer data as well.
For instance, if you’re running content campaigns across channels such as Facebook or Instagram, but not collecting information on which content performs best, then you’re not getting the most out of your marketing spend. You need to know which types of content – videos, images, or text-based – perform best for your business on which channel.
But if you’re using different messaging across the various channels, then it becomes virtually impossible to get an accurate picture of what is working and what isn’t. If you want to fully understand how customers are interacting with your business, you need to be consistent with your messaging across all channels.
5. Use data to better understand your customer journey
Most marketers have a good sense of what their customer journey looks like. However, many businesses lack the ability to quantify how well they’re performing across different stages of the customer journey (Awareness, Consideration, Conversion).
The reason? They don’t have a clear understanding of how customers are moving between channels (both online and offline) and devices (mobile, tablet and desktop).
To get started, attribute, attribute, attribute! By attributing all your leads, the data gathered can inform you of which campaigns, contents and channels are capturing and converting customers. Essentially, you want to have a complete and accurate picture of what and where attracted your customers and how was their interactions with your business throughout the journey.
Omnichannel Marketing – Made easy with technology
Omnichannel marketing is all about making sure your customers have a seamless experience when interacting with your business; whether that’s online or offline. You want your customers to be able to easily find what they’re looking for, communicate with you when they need help, and feel like they’re being taken care of at every point in the customer journey. Customers no longer buy a product or service alone, they buy into the experience. If there’s one thing that’s important to remember when developing an omnichannel marketing strategy, it’s this: The customer comes first.
But if you’re going to have to create seamless and personalised experiences for each customer, while they interact with you on multiple channels and are interested in different products or services; doesn’t that sound too much to handle? Maybe 10 or even 100 customers at a single time might be manageable depending on the size of your team. But what about few hundreds or thousands? On top of that, what if there are manpower changes to your team? Will your customers wait while you adjust to the changes?
The good news is, you can continue to scale your business despite all these challenges. How? Technology is your best friend! Utilise a customer relationship management that has omnichannel communication integrated. Keep track of all customer communication, automate, and have a full picture of your customer journey.