Why develop an omnichannel marketing strategy?
The modern consumer is impulsive and unpredictable – with infinite ways to shop but they have limited time and attention. As a result, a single task can take minutes or months. People bounce around among digital and real-world channels. They often begin a purchase in one place and finish it later, using a different device. All the while, they expect brands to follow this journey as it unfolds, anticipating their needs, and providing a delightful experience every step of the way.
This is the new reality of omnichannel marketing. You may be familiar with the idea, but if you are wondering how to build an omnichannel marketing strategy that’s worth the investment and sure to succeed – read on. Here is our perspective on best practices and ways that companies can evaluate the results of their omnichannel marketing efforts.
E-commerce alone is not omnichannel
Brands have had to serve many channels since the beginning of time, so why do most companies need an omnichannel marketing strategy now? In the fast-changing digital world, integrating e-commerce with physical stores is the only way to create a friction-free shopping experience for customers and an efficient way for brands to reach their audiences with personalized messages.
Marketers who implement omnichannel marketing strategies are able to meet customers at every stage of the buying journey with a timely and relevant message. Information that someone shares in one interaction carries over to all future points of contact. The result is a seamless and individualized customer experience.
How is this possible? An omnichannel strategy takes advantage of marketing automation technology to orchestrate experiences across every touchpoint you can think of – from websites, email, and mobile apps to physical stores and billboards. Once separate e-commerce initiatives get folded into the process, and the brand gets the ability to manage campaigns centrally, the customer feels like it’s a 1:1 conversation.
Omnichannel campaigns are incredibly dynamic, enabling marketers to adjust content and communications on-the-fly as the organization gains new customer insights. For example, a strong omnichannel platform will let you know when it’s time to send messages about related products, upgrade offers, or an abandoned shopping cart.
Omnichannel marketing strategies in practice
Omnichannel marketing strategies build and strengthen relationships by putting the customer first. A brand that understands sentiment and anticipates customer needs can drive higher engagement, accelerate the sales cycle, and increase loyalty. Furthermore, embracing omnichannel marketing now will help you navigate emerging trends around social selling through videos, shoppable media, conversational commerce, and other new digital channels.
Consider an example: A shopper browses Instagram while waiting in line at the grocery store, sees a sponsored product and taps the post to learn more. As the mobile page is loading, the customer looks up and sees that it’s time to unload groceries for the cashier to check out. Just like that, the digital moment is over.
Later, the same person may decide to continue researching the product at home, this time from a tablet or laptop. Will the brand recognize the individual and present relevant content that picks up where the earlier session left off? What kind of insight will inform this next interaction, and how can the brand show a deeper understanding of the customer’s need? Done right, an omnichannel marketing strategy helps you address these questions head-on, so that every potential customer has a positive and reinforcing experience with the brand.
The basics of omnichannel marketing strategies
When you’re ready to begin planning an omnichannel marketing strategy, it’s best to set clear objectives and start with a small test project. Consider these five aspects to frame the initiative and see Implementing Omnichannel Marketing for more guidance:
- Journey Mapping: How well do you understand customer personas and what behavior is typical on each available channel? Get a clear picture of how people interact with the brand by observing the patterns, testing the process yourself, and inviting direct feedback.
- Team: Omnichannel marketing is a transformative undertaking – one that requires significant cross-department coordination. Make sure to get your team aligned with executive buy-in from the start.
- Data Sharing: Breaking down silos is essential to successful omnichannel marketing. Talk to your peers across the company to plan how you will share customer information and insights.
- Technology Infrastructure: Do you have the right marketing technology stack in place to gather and analyze data across channels and deliver personalized content at scale? A unified platform can introduce efficiency by managing the entire customer experience from end-to-end.
- Audience Segments: Identify key audience segments for targeted brand messages and study their interests. Then prioritize a few channels and consider starting with a single campaign to test the process.
- Evaluation: Define and measure success metrics, then iterate continually to optimize results.
The stakes for embracing omnichannel marketing are high and climbing. “Today, consumers expect to buy on the computer, phone, or at the stand in the store and choose delivery at home, in the store, in a pre-set location, or in the trunk of their car. A retailer that cannot do this today loses out on around 10%-30% of sales,” writes Professor Carlos Cordon for executive education firm IMD.
Lowe’s Canada understood this trend when the company decide to modernize its website to support home improvement projects. A completely revamped omnichannel experience led to higher mobile sales, increased sales of in-stock items, and a higher average online order value.
You’ll know that the omnichannel marketing strategy is working its magic when you have visibility across channels, conversions start to climb, customer sentiment is positive, and repeat business becomes the norm.