Traditional Marketing Efforts Prioritized the Message. With Omnichannel Marketing, Brands Build an Affinity with Individuals Across All Channels by Focusing on the Customer!
The modern consumer has evolved from a mere shopper perusing grocery shelves to an individual who knows they are special; esteemed as a valued customer, and held in high regard by the firms who seek their business. That being said, the modern shopping experience has, in turn, evolved from a mono-point basis to expand across a variety of media outlets, engagement checkpoints and interactive channels.
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Unlike in the past, consumers utilize multiple channels and devices to research products, browse selections and execute actions to either make a purchase, put off a decision or dig deeper to find exactly what they’re searching for, and from a trusted buyer. It’s also not uncommon for target audience members to sit down on their desktop to respond to emails, browse new retail options on their laptop or tablet, and call in businesses on their smartphone.
A Google study revealed that 98% of Americans switch between devices every single day! As such, the very nature of marketing itself has in turn transitioned from a direct, push-based style towards a gentler, more personalized buying experience spanning several communication pipelines. The effectiveness of print media, traditional television or radio ads, and wide-cast batch and blast emails has dwindled…a new era has been ushered in!
This paradigm shift in consumerism and technologically-fueled marketing has given way to the intelligently scalable and hyper-focused field of omnichannel marketing. This new terminology, while at first glance seems like another redundant buzzword, is in fact one of the most powerful new ideological systems that business owners, marketing directors and entire teams are implementing as the foremost solution in their marketing strategy. The need for such a robust approach appeared as a result of issues such as customer preference and data privacy taking center stage. Marketers needed to stay a few steps ahead of consumers, who were already way ahead of the curve!
Understanding their ever-changing shopping habits, the means by which they engage either online or offline, and anticipating future needs by advantageously using historical data and previous user behavior are just a few of the switches to hit when considering an omnichannel marketing plan. Businesses that push content and offerings through multiple channels experience 3 times the effectiveness rates as single-channel ones, and yet only a quarter of companies have made the move towards omnichannel!
It has become abundantly clear that the deepest significance in modern marketing lies in approaching, engaging and nurturing consumer-brand bonds across several channels—and in a unified, cohesive manner. The primary aim of omnichannel marketing, after all, is to engage with your customers on those channels within which they are most active.
It’s a method that utilizers can push themselves through by social media, email marketing, and even brick-and-mortar stores. The largest challenge, however, remains in captivating customers through these channels and retaining their loyalty with a single message that can be easily adaptable across any and every platform—and generate the company revenue!
So…what exactly is omnichannel marketing? How does it differentiate from multi-channel marketing? And what does its future hold in store for avid digital marketers who hope to penetrate this new and uncharted territory for traditional marketing avenues? Read on to find out!
WHAT IS OMNICHANNEL MARKETING?
Omnichannel marketing is the concept of using all of your channels within a marketing infrastructure to create a single, unified user experience. This can include both analog or digital medium, communication channels, point-of-sales, or touch points otherwise.
This system of online marketing manifests a seamless message that remains flexible to your customer throughout the sales funnel, regardless of taste, demographic or personalization. As it is, the modern consumer is just that—flexible! They bounce in between devices, media formats, and advertising outlets. They enter a physical retail location, and then walk out to immediately hop on an e-commerce site to find a better deal.
It’s only today that marketers are beginning to acknowledge and respond to this behavior in kind; with marketing campaigns centered around the customer as opposed to focusing on the message being delivered. Customers these days must build up a certain level of trust with a brand before committing or feeling comfortable purchasing…and this can be said both online and offline. With these elements approaching the forefront of a company’s attention, it’s vital to stay relevant and overcome such obstacles.
Omnichannel inherently spans across distribution, promotion, and communication channels (even within back-end functions). As such, each aspect of the consumers’ adjacent experience should be consistent and complementary alongside any of those avenues.
Implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy can mean a few different things, particularly in consideration of your customer. Here are some rule-of-thumbs that may establish some grounding within the turf that this relatively new marketing method has created:
– When your customer approaches you, stay present—no matter the channel!
– Maintain an automated system of updates, reactiveness and responsiveness conducive to your customers’ needs
– You should obtain a deeper level of personalization no matter who the customer is, which channel they’re on, or where in the funnel they are!
Now bears the distinction between two fundamentally unique yet easily indistinguishable concepts within the multiple avenue marketing approach—multi-channel versus omnichannel. So, what is the difference, and why is it significant?
WHEN TO USE MULTICHANNEL MARKETING VERSUS OMNICHANNEL MARKETING
Take it from the Senior Vice President of Time Warner Cable himself, John Bowden:
“Multi-channel is an operational view – how you allow the customer to complete transactions in each channel. Omni-channel, however, is viewing the experience through the eyes of your customer, orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent. Omni-channel anticipates that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution. Making these complex ‘hand-offs’ between channels must be fluid for the customer. Simply put, omni-channel is multi-channel done right!”
Multichannel Marketing is definitely NOT an exact synonym for omnichannel, while it may seem like yet another arbitrary buzzword. However, they each signify an important aspect of the overall modern digital marketing infrastructure and carry with them their own unique benefits!
Multichannel indeed uses multiple channels as a pathway approach—but at the cost of putting the brand at the center of the strategy and, therefore, sending out the same static message to customers on all channels…regardless of if they’ve seen or heard the message before. Omnichannel, however, puts the customer at the center of the strategy.
In this form of data-driven marketing, you are literally utilizing historical data, user behavior and experience logs, and multitudes of data heaps to parse and make sense of how your consumers have already interacted with/behaved upon on the channels you’re tuned in to. And as your customer progresses through the journey within your pipeline, this infrastructure automatically shapes and molds to offer a message more pertinent and relevant to your audience!
OMNICHANNEL MARKETING: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
As any intelligent modern marketer, one would be slightly apprehensive at the onset of such a bold, disruptive marketing tactic as omnichannel…right? HVMA is here to assuage and banish any fears to be had of this incredibly versatile marketing style, particularly within brands who seek to combine data analytics and a robust customer acquisition and retention process to generate raw conversions and return customers who know what to expect from your brand—what they expect!
In an Omnisend report, marketers who used three or more channels in campaigns yielded nearly 19% more engagement, compared to single-channel users who spat out a mere 5.4%. Of course, engagement doesn’t mean everything…except when it also involves a 2.5X higher purchase rate. So not only were audiences made to feel unique within their shopper experience—they spent more, and more frequently. In the same 2018 report, customers were found to have, on average, spent 13% more than bare, single-channel users.
And those same marketers, or even digital marketing agencies, who used three tiers or higher? Try 90% higher retention rates over mono-channel static. Proof plenty, for a highly lucrative and electric new outtake on consumerism and digital marketing!
But statistics, of course, aren’t enough to rattle the nerves of a hardened marketing veteran. So below, we’ve addressed six major benefits to omnichannel marketing which can bolster your business and help you resonate with your main audience profile!
- Omnichannel strategies enable brands to collect and consolidate customer data scattered across various platforms and disparate channels such as cookies, device IDs, online carts, social media posts, email lists, point-of-sale systems, loyalty or membership programs, and so on. This kind of information can provide a literal 360-degree perspective of individuals consumers on a personalized level—and is still working to your benefit! While you are collecting this very data and interacting with your prime audience base, you are analyzing their behavior, interests, intent and developing more effective, efficient and enhanced campaigns designs that can ultimately pull higher conversion rates.
- Customer data analysis can also help you locate, detail and analyze your ideal customers and group—or segment them—based on intent. A customer who has already purchased a certain product doesn’t need to be shown the safe sofa ad—that’s annoying. Rather, marketing initiatives aimed at cross-selling or up-selling would be more viable. This kind of information helps in the creation of buyer profiles that can, down the road, also aid companies in understanding the timeliness, pertinence and relevancy of marketing information towards their customers.
- An overall more integrated marketing schematic can only provide increasingly binding results, particularly across all the channels involved! Omnichannel marketing creates a stronger synergy across these channels by only intelligently engaging customers by the method they prefer, making sure all those channels know what’s going on with the others, and not losing a byte of data or context to bat. Deep data analytics integration also enables the ability to pull and combine consumer data within seconds and acknowledge them as the people they are—without skipping a beat.
- If a customer enters your domain, you should know exactly what he/she is interested in, the most proficient method to deliver them their solution, and the most interpersonal way to do it all! As such, your brand must remain in shape if it is to reflect upon a holistic consumer experience. Omnichannel approaches help place messages where they need to be at the right time…no matter the platform. Convenience is the call word, and a seamlessly personalized experience is the anthem…and that’s how you breed true customer loyalty!
- The expansive insight that omnichannel provides into so many individuals’ gold mines of information at such a ridiculously fractional cost is owed only to its innately ingenious approach. Driving marketing campaigns to their fullest and deploying your resources the most efficiently is what any brand yearns for—so why not start today? Analyze the data already presently flowing and gain a deeper level of comprehension for the channels to concentrate on, which are most profitable…and which ones your users are even active on. Reduce your wasted ad spends by avoiding the noise and hyper-focusing your marketing efforts on the customers who count!
- Ultimately…all of this boils down to your return. How much return on your investment? Is it worth it? Well…so far, with all the data and statistics to show…we think there’s no reason to NOT include omnichannel in your marketing strategy.
MASTERING OMNICHANNEL: HOW TO IMPLEMENT IT, AND WHY IT MATTERS
Omnichannel marketing is definitely the most powerful new solution to every marketer’s worst nightmare—being laughed at behind their customers’ backs because they did such a poor job of keeping their messages unified and sensible. It’s even more evident with over 60% of claimants saying they would implement omnichannel within their own businesses in 2019 (Omnisend).
However, such a diverse and expansive strategic outlay must include a powerful set of tools to develop a basis for functionality and with it, potential for success. Without it, a brand manager can easily lose sight of what’s important and find themselves in yet another ceaseless uphill battle in the never-ending fight to locate, captivate, establish and close potential conversions or return customers.
The first and most important aspect to consider before even trying to involve omnichannel itself is to prepare your business environment for the onset and approach of this forward-thinking solution. While omnichannel works effortlessly around the customer as a pleasant and slight experience, billions of pieces of data are being moved and parsed through in the background—consumer data. And if you’re placing your customer as the core of your strategy, their precious, personalized information stock is reflectively involved in creating their enhanced user experience.
Your team members must all have as much of a unified understanding of the intricacies of omnichannel marketing as the others. Marketers must remember that this data is utilized with the focus of delivering your audience the right message at the right time. The product team should know they need pertinent analytics to match merchandising options with those that customers yearn towards most. And customer service/PR departments must also pursue informational initiatives to maintain a consistent conversation in their available communication spaces. A terrific omnichannel strategy is one that is built from the ground up across all teams, and not in a siloed approach. After all, omnichannel is all about making things work together in unison!
In a system optimized to run smoothly alongside your individual consumer’s digital footprint trail, it’s crucial to understand and comprehend your customer on a microscopic level. However, the real question comes now, after understanding what omnichannel has to offer and how to prepare yourself and your brand for it. Where can this data be found, and how do you collect it? The first step is by overhauling your inherent customer experience.
Take a walk in your customer’s shoes and see how your business experience runs for yourself! The easiest way is by engaging in a full-run purchase walkthrough—testing the order placements systems, interacting with all available features, attempting to connect with all the given products or other modes of customer interface. Interact with all available channels, submit help or support requests, run internal or external user testing and understand on both a comprehensive and granular level how the qualitative experience was—along with its nuances.
The next step, albeit a bit trickier, is to gather informational customer feedback. The best way? Right from the horse’s mouth! Social listening, as a key component of audience research, can take you to a certain degree. Companies must remain attentive to their direct, hard-and-fast styles of data collection as much as quieter ones. Social listening can aid in analyzing customer patterns and trends, enriching your stock of consumer data and ultimately, helping you provide your user base with better services and support offerings across all outlets—a solid omnichannel marketing approach. But take it a step further by developing a solid customer-facing approach as well!
Approach and request consumers for feedback at any and all stages of the customer journey. Offer up rewards, bonuses, discounts and other such tantalizing tactics to entice their curiosity and gain you their trust in attaining their invaluable personal data. Omnichannel is innately targeted and personalized, so don’t forget to operate as such. Collect these gold nuggets though social platforms to generate personalized offers through, say, email marketing, down the road.
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Harvesting information such as customer interests, preferences for how consumers interact with your brand, how they perceive you relative to alternative options, issues they have encountered, and finally if and how they tried to reach out to you, and in what channel. Now, take this data and centralize it into a single shared database, or a customer relationship management system, and link all of your avenues together efficiently. Integrate this with all other aspects of the business for a firm cross-channel support network. Not all problems are social media-related! Adequately prepare your teams to handle all sides of a customer-related issue, whether its back-end related or right on the nose.
After understanding who your customers really are, what their innate desires and needs are and how you can best connect with them across a swath of platforms and still manage to get through to them personally yet seamlessly every time, the next step in the system is to segment your users into smaller, more defined groups. Categorizing them by certain parameters makes the overall personalized message process much easier and more refined; targeting users based on common traits eliminates wasted time and resources.
Using profile data such as demographics, age, gender, or location can provide specifics on each customer. Learning how they engage and interact with campaigns and channels can glean you insight on how to improve these aspects of your business. Finally, their direct shopping behavior and individual journey through the customer sales funnel and purchase pipeline can provide you with the best blueprint to make their experience smooth sailing and your automated efforts more worthwhile!
You can go further to segment these groups as well, creating levels upon levels of intricacy. Using marketing automation, you can capture the heaps of data and precious user info stored in all of these touchpoints, build rich profiles for each consumer and build a fundamentally strong understanding of your potential clients and brand loyalists.
As we have learned thus far, the omnichannel marketing approach is irrefutably the single densest node within the modern digital marketing landscape. It has turned what was already a precedent in the world of sales and marketing—the digitization of marketing efforts with the Internet and social media—into an entirely new paradigm shift all over again.
However, understanding what makes this stratagem to marketing success truly robust is the key to being able to wield it altogether. Multichannel marketing has its place amongst the terrain, but it is limited in its primitive approach to user data capture, consolidation of intent and messages, as well as ability to ascertain consumer interest and product/service efficacy compared to the omnichannel mastermind approach.
Having all your entry points for a potential customer entering your brand’s lane, depending on how they want to be approached, when, and with what level of depth or intimacy, can mean the world to your audience and your company’s ROI. Bolstering your brand’s growth lies in your hands, and that starts with forming a keen basis for wanting to connect, bond and grow with your customers as much as they love doing business with you. Investing in your own future starts with taking care of other people—golden words from a golden rule!