What Is Omnichannel Marketing?
Omnichannel marketing is the seamless integration of online and offline marketing channels a company uses to interact with customers. It provides consistent branding and messaging across the entire purchase journey, regardless of where a customer interacts with the brand. It also assumes that the customer may start interacting in one channel and continue it in another.
For example, a customer wants to purchase a new TV, so they go to a brand’s website and research TV types and options. The website offers specials and deals, but the customer decides to look at the TV in person before making a final decision. The website indicates that a particular TV is available in-store in the customer’s location. The next day, the customer is out shopping, and the brand’s mobile app on the customer’s phone pops up a notification that the TV they were looking at on the website is available for a special advertised price, and the store is just around the corner.
The concept behind omnichannel marketing is that customers don’t want to interact with a brand on a channel-by-channel basis, restarting the experience in every channel. Instead, they expect the brand to remember them and their activity and continue the experience seamlessly as the customer moves between channels.
Multichannel Marketing is Not Omnichannel Marketing
Omnichannel Marketing and Multichannel Marketing are frequently used interchangeably. But these are two different strategies, and it’s important to be aware of the distinction. Although omnichannel marketing is the gold star of marketing, most companies currently perform multichannel marketing.
Multichannel marketing is similar to omnichannel in that it involves interacting and engaging the customer in more than one channel. However, the channels are not connected; each channel assumes the engagement starts and ends within that channel.
For example, a customer shopping for a new pair of winter boots will look online for options and sales, but the interaction ends if they don’t make the purchase online. The next day while out shopping, and she sees the boots in the store and decides to purchase them. In this example, the customer used two different channels to buy, but there was no integration between the experiences, and the company’s marketers probably won’t understand that both interactions resulted in the purchase.
With multichannel marketing, the marketing team manages each channel as an individual channel with its advertising, messaging, and customer interactions.
Omnichannel Marketing is More Personal, But Harder To Do
Omnichannel marketing requires a company to understand the entire customer journey and how a customer may engage the company at any touchpoint. It assumes a continuous journey, with the customer moving in and out of channels seamlessly on the path to conversion. Personalized messaging continues as the customer moves to a new channel, remembering any interactions on prior channels.
The complexity involved in understanding the buyer’s journey is what makes omnichannel marketing so difficult. It requires a deep understanding of how customers move through the buying process. The problem is, the buyer’s journey is rarely linear, with a customer moving in and out of channels at any time.
Omnichannel marketing also requires tightly integrated marketing technology that can recognize where a customer is in the buying process, share customer data across applications and channels and provide the right messaging for the channel and buying stage.
The Benefits of Omnichannel Marketing
Omnichannel marketing improves customer experience, empowers employees, and ultimately benefits the brand itself.
- Customers get quicker resolution to customer service issues, spend less time repeating information, and receive more personalized and relevant marketing messages.
- Employees get the information they need to make their work effective and meaningful. They can see the context of each customer interaction for quicker problem resolution with fewer intermediate steps.
- Brands can see a boost in marketing effectiveness thanks to more targeted, relevant and timely messaging. This can also help develop deeper relationships with customers for repeat business and referrals.
Omnichannel experience yields tangible benefits in study after study. One study found a 10 percent increase in spend online and 4 percent in-store for omnichannel customers. Another recent study found a 250% higher purchase frequency with omnichannel versus single-channel.
How to Implement an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy
Data management is the foundation of a successful omnichannel strategy. It starts with connecting, cleansing, and consolidating your data streams on a Customer Data Platform (CDP).
Don’t stop with marketing department data, either—sales, customer service, and even HR have valuable data for omnichannel marketing.
A CDP can create a single source of truth, a central location where you can analyze data across every channel in order to guide your strategy.
With data management on a CDP, you can start developing a single view of the customer, uniting channels into a single conversation backed by your data source of truth. This makes it easier to transform from channel-based communication to customer-based communication.
Here’s how to create an omnichannel strategy that builds on your CDPs strengths:
- Map Omnichannel Customer Journeys. Define your customers’ behavior stages, identify their goals, and use your CDP’s analytical power to identify the most meaningful touchpoints. Then use these insights to remove friction.
- Create an Omnichannel Customer Experience. Make sure customer interactions feel like part of a seamless conversation: Make your brand voice consistent across channels, personalize as much as possible, and find ways to reward loyalty across channels.
- Evaluate and Improve. With your data consolidated on a CDP, you will be able to more accurately measure what’s working and what isn’t. Keep refining your customer journey map and the customer experience to see ongoing improvement.
Changing the Channel
Conversing with your brand should be as easy as talking with an old friend: It’s a conversation that can start anywhere from social media to SMS to email, and continue through any and all of those channels without losing the thread of the discussion.
With the right CDP and a comprehensive omnichannel marketing strategy, you can eliminate friction for your customers, empower your employees, and build lasting customer relationships that directly affect the bottom line.