Amid the booming of technology, customer behaviors have changed rapidly. They integrate technology into their daily life and expect brands to offer a personalized and consistent shopping experience. This requires marketers and salespeople to adopt an omnichannel marketing strategy to reach, engage, and delight customers wherever they are. While there’re many online and offline channels, the key is to take a holistic approach to unify the customer experience across channels. In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need about omnichannel and explore the 10 tips for a successful marketing strategy.
What is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel marketing is the interconnection of your brand touchpoints with customers as they move down the sales funnel. It aims to provide a convenient, seamless user experience throughout their shopping journey with higher fulfillment opportunities, regardless of the channel they’re using.
Omnichannel marketing puts the customers at the center of all marketing efforts. Customers can interact with brands on various channels, including physical stores, websites, social media, or customer service hotlines. To ensure shoppers have a joyful and cohesive CX, an omnichannel method offers these key components:
- Recognizable, consistent brand image and voice tone
- Personalized messages depending on customer interests and their current shopping stage
- Centralized data about customers’ past purchases and interactions to gain valuable insights
Examples of how companies are applying omnichannel marketing in their business
To give you an idea of how omnichannel marketing is applied, here’re some examples:
Disney has the highest standard for omnichannel, which all business owners can take inspiration from. Starting from Disney’s website, visitors can move to the “My Disney Experience” app to view the detail of their trip. This app lets visitors explore the rides and attractions at the park and display the wait time. Disney also provides visitors with “The MagicBand”, a wristband that enables visitors open hotel room doors, enter the park, check in ride entrances, get photos, and charge food to their hotel rooms.
Sephora is a famous cosmetics brand that perfectly blends the online and in-store experiences. Their physical stores offer consistent beauty tips, well-trained staff, and free trial products. While customers are in-store, they can use their “Beauty Bag” app function to scan items, see tutorials, try on virtual makeups, add to their wish list, and make purchases using the app.
Apple levels up the omnichannel game by creating an ecosystem of their devices interacting with each other via the user’s iCloud account. All users' photos, messages, and files are displayed seamlessly, regardless of which Apple device they use. Once a user gets a new device and logs in to their iCloud, all their data and settings are downloaded to the new device.
The big retailer Target integrates with Pinterest’s Lens to provide an interesting and easy shopping experience. Users can take pictures of a product they like and use the Target app to find similar items. In this way, the customers easily explore if Target sells similar products and directly place an order there.
Starbucks rewards its customers with special loyalty cards. You can use this card to purchase whenever in-store or choose the delivery method via its app. You can check and reload the card via phone, website, app, or in-store. Any card modifications will be updated in real time across all channels.
As one of the top pharmaceutical chains, Walgreens provides customers with a mobile app to check and refill prescriptions quickly. The app will alert the customers if their medication needs renewing, and the customer can click promptly to buy medicine without having to call or go to the pharmacy.
Spotify offers an interconnection of its web app, desktop app, and mobile app. It syncs all app data when you open them at the same time. For example, if you open a song on your phone, the desktop app will show the same song currently in play.
8. Bank of America
Bank of America is the pioneer in setting omnichannel experience for the finance industry. It launched a mobile and desktop app that supports various customer queries, from depositing a check and paying monthly bills to scheduling appointments.
9. Singapore Airlines
Aviation companies like Singapore Airlines have set foot in omnichannel marketing and achieved sweet results. It partners with AOE-integrated airports and shopping malls to offer customers easy booking with enhanced in-flight options and gain real-time loyalty points.
Chipotle offers a pleasant restaurant experience online and offline. You can make orders directly from its app and note special requests for the restaurant. For example, you can save your favorite sets and quickly order when you’re on the way or book a table to be ready for a team when you arrive.
Differences between omnichannel and multichannel marketing
Although the two terms sound similar, they have clear distinctions. Multichannel marketing refers to using more than 1 channel to interact with customers. The objective is to have as many touchpoints as possible to push the advertising and marketing content to the mass audience.
On the other hand, omnichannel is differentiated due to its “personalization” methodology. No matter which channel the customers use, they must have a consistent experience across their shopping journey.
The below table summarizes the main factors that distinguish the 2 marketing approaches:
If there’s one thing to take away from this comparison, it’s the integration. Omnichannel marketing creates an interconnected flow for all your channels.
Why do you need an omnichannel marketing strategy?
An omnichannel marketing strategy will benefit your business in various aspects:
1. Better user experience and satisfaction
The customer experience lies at the heart of an omnichannel marketing approach. By focusing on the customer and not the platform, you can understand customers better and create suitable sales scenarios to personalize the CX. This leads to higher customer satisfaction, as customers can get valuable content and easily purchase products on their preferred device and platform. A proper UX design process is at the foundation of great customer experience.
2. Cohesive brand strategy and identity
A seamless marketing strategy across channels can establish a unified brand image and voice tone. Companies can deliver consistent and identifiable brand content on all platforms contributing to the overall customer experience. The comprehensive brand strategy helps convert your shoppers into loyal customers and advocates.
3. Higher revenue
Customers can interact more with the brand across channels, so they’re exposed to products more frequently and have a higher chance to buy. Research by GE Capital Retail Bank shows that 81% of retail customers do online searches before they buy a product. Omnichannel marketing ensures that, when the customer is ready to purchase, they can easily find and buy your products on any channel, thus, helping increase revenue.
The diverse touchpoints and targeted messaging also boost customer retention as they repeatedly come back to buy. Repeat customers are an important segment in your strategy, as they can contribute a stable and recurring order value to your business.
4. Better attribution data
As you go omnichannel, your data analytics can evolve as well. By tracking and unifying customer behaviors across channels, you can gain more insights into their shopping journey, what attracts them, and when and where they interact with your brand. Centralizing data allows you to map your client's profile and evaluate which campaigns are the most valuable. You can then use this information to improve your marketing strategy and optimize your budget.
10 Tips for building a successful omnichannel strategy
1. Understand your customers
Before getting into the details of your strategy, you must know your customers. To gain a deep understanding of your target consumers, look for this information about your ideal customers:
- Demographics: who they are, their location, income range
- Interests: what attracts them
- Behaviors: How and where they search for information, interact with the brand, and purchase products
- Values: what they believe and their purpose
- Pain points: what problems they’re having and how you can help them with your product or service
To do this, you can read product reviews, conduct social listening, investigate the top brands in your industry, and conduct email surveys to get customer feedback. Then, you can create detailed buyer personas that represent your target audience. This will guide your robust omnichannel marketing plan that engages with customers at the right time, right place, and with the right content that resonates with them.
2. Segment your audience
Correct targeting and message personalization are critical in an omnichannel marketing strategy. To send personalized content, you should divide your customers into categories and groups based on similar traits, such as:
- Profile data: gender, age, location, marital status, etc
- Campaign engagement: interaction with specific campaigns and channels. For example, people who clicked or liked a social media ad post
- Shopping behavior: how often, when, and where your customers shop. For example, people whose last purchase is within 6 months have accumulated order value above $300 in the last year, etc
3. Craft a recognizable brand voice
You need a consistent brand voice to make your brand recognizable across all platforms and channels. It is the tone, language, and style that define your company’s communication and make customers remember you.
Keep your audience in mind when you create the brand voice. You should use language that directly talks to them to build personal connections. This brand style will be used across all online and offline channels, from your marketing campaigns to how your sales and customer services answer customers’ questions.
In addition, try to differentiate your brand voice from your competitors and partner with suitable KOLs who have similar styles and audience bases as you. Selecting the right ambassadors will boost your branding efforts seamlessly.
4. Customize the journey
Drawing your customer journey helps you determine the roadmap a customer goes through before making a purchase. You will know how they interact with your brand and what content they expect in each stage to implement proactive customer service. You can better serve customers once you understand their motivations and be right where they need you.
Here’re the steps to create an omnichannel user journey:
- Define the primary stages from discovery to purchase: awareness, interest, consideration, purchase, and after-sales
- Select marketing approaches to attract, engage, and delight customers at these stages that prioritize customer preferences
- Choose the channels to offer an incentive to buy based on customer preference, such as promotions, stock availability, marketing messaging, etc
- Personalization should be your focus across all channels and content in the customer journey
5. Choose marketing channels your customers prefer
After identifying your customer journey, check how they move across the channels with your brand. You can give customers access to all your channels at the beginning of their journey, such as a website, app, web push notifications, emails, social media groups, SMS, PPC advertising, etc.
Check the performance of your channels to find out which receive the most interactions and which are ignored. When you know your best-performing platforms, focus on them to create a smooth omnichannel customer experience and update your customers about promotions. From there, you can design the marketing plan that makes the most out of the communication touchpoints.
6. Personalize messaging and recommendations
By placing customers at the center of your omnichannel strategy, you can personalize messaging and product suggestions accordingly to the personas and audience segments.
Here’re some ideas to customize content and marketing methods for customer shopping experience:
- Retarget people who’ve engaged with a product on the website and send them recommendations with similar items in social media ads
- Display complemented products when customers checkout in your app to cross-sell
- Push SMS messages for a store promotion when customers are in nearby locations
- Send a birthday voucher via email that customers can use for in-store checkout
7. Invest in the right software
Technology can help your sales and marketing team automate manual tasks and get more customers with fewer resources and time. Getting the right tools helps you take advantage of your data, improve the customer experience, and streamline your marketing cycle.
Investigate your current tech stack to see if their functionalities meet omnichannel marketing requirements. You may need to adopt new software or upgrade the existing system to fill the gaps. Here’re the must-have software types for an omnichannel business:
- Customer relationship management (CRM): manages and nurtures leads across their shopping journey. CRM software stores all customer info and manages communications with shoppers on different channels
- Email marketing software: integrates with your CRM system to send bulk emails to your audience segments. You can also track and manage leads in your sales pipeline and measure email campaign performance
- Social media management: monitors all your social media activities in one place. You can organize and publish content quickly for all platforms and easily engage with your subscribers
- Marketing automation: automates repetitive tasks to save time and avoid human errors. It also helps ensure consistency in execution on multiple marketing channels
8. Optimize the purchase experience
Next, make sure all channels lead to a smooth eCommerce checkout process. Once your customers decide to buy, you need to provide an easy and convenient purchase experience. If customers find difficulties, they may abandon the cart, which costs you more effort to persuade them to return.
To optimize the purchase process, consider these ideas:
- Allow buying without creating an online account
- Provide auto-filling ability
- Request shipping information before billing
- Offer various payment methods like credit/debit cards, digital wallets, Buy-now-pay-later, etc.
- Allow adjusting carts like product quantity, size, remove items, etc.
- Show a clear exchange and return policy
- Support O2O method like Click-and-collect
9. Provide cross-channel support
Finally, your omnichannel marketing strategy must offer excellent cross-channel customer support. Allow customers to choose how they want to contact you, either via a call center, website, or social media chat.
The customer service strategies for inbound and outbound calls are different. While inbound calls refer to customers contacting you for their needs, outbound calls mean you reach customers. Both are essential for a successful omnichannel eCommerce plan. Therefore, ensure you have an effective system for making and receiving calls.
10. Monitor your result and make testing a habit
Measuring your marketing initiatives is crucial to track your results. The campaign analytics shows you what you’ve done well that should be leveraged and what should be improved.
As you collect and analyze data for all marketing platforms, you can get insights into your performance, from revenue, and product performance, to customer segmentation, and the marketing campaigns that create the most value.
This requires you to actively test elements like different messaging content, header lines, images, and the time to send. Regular tests of your campaigns can help you find the best content formula for your brand while preparing you to act quickly to changes in customer behaviors and new trends.
Customers expect a digital-first and a consistent omnichannel experience in their interaction with the brand. Delivering a personalized shopping journey across all touchpoints and devices can help you build customer trust and loyalty. Customers will find your products and services helpful and present at the right time they need. Follow the above 10 tips to launch your omnichannel marketing plan to success.