Omni-channel is the concept of weaving all of your channels to create one unified experience for your customers. This means all your channels work together to present to users a united brand that ultimately enhances their shopping experience.
In an absolute sense, omnichannel marketing means equipping your customers with a coherent, wholesome idea, image, and experience across all channels.
When your customers interact with you through email, SMS, social media, print ad, or even a physical store, your message must be impeccable and consistent.
In short, as customers switch from one medium to another, your reputation must precede you.
The word seamless is highlighted here because we all know what first impressions mean. It is challenging to reel a customer in after a bad first experience with your brand.
This is why once you opt for omnichannel marketing, all your platforms must work hand in hand to offer customers a memorable experience.
As the saying goes, one lousy cook spoils the broth. Therefore, if you have committed yourself to reach your customers through several channels, they must all be unblemished.
What is omnichannel retailing
Omni-channel retailing is how several channels are consolidated and leveraged to persuade a customer to purchase.
Unlike before, when customers had limited shopping options, shopping outlets are limitless. You could go in a queue at the counter while browsing online for items to purchase or even switching between different websites or apps.
Garnering for and keeping the buyer’s attention is now a lot more complicated, making it necessary to have an outstanding marketing strategy and an even better customer experience.
Here is where omnichannel retailing comes in. All your pipelines work together to produce a seamless customer experience from the start of their journey.
For instance, if I fill my cart on my mobile phone, I should find this same cart available on my laptop without having to start from scratch when I get to work the next day.
Also, if I decide to do a physical pickup of my goods, this should trigger a wholly separate but connected in-store customer experience that will match my online shopping one.
Multi-channel vs. Omni-channel marketing
These might seem like complicated terms, but they are pretty simple. One can be a subset of another. All omnichannel experiences will use multiple channels, but not all multi-channel experiences are omnichannel.
The differences will be starker in the differences below.
Isolation vs synchronisation
A multi-channel experience is what most modern-day businesses provide. A company will have a website, blog, email marketing, mobile app, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp business, and a physical store.
The difference is that all these work in isolation of one another. There are no efforts to synchronize the customer experience.
The goal is to have as many platforms as possible to reach a wider audience. In most cases, there is no cohesiveness or joint strategies.
On the other hand, omnichannel marketing strives for a streamlined customer experience both online and offline. Every platform is utilized to provide an integrated customer experience.
Static vs. evolving
Multi-channel marketing is fixed. The message remains the same but distributed across different channels.
The goal is to reach as many customers as possible and increase product or service awareness. With omnichannel marketing, communication changes due to customer online behaviour.
As the consumer’s purchasing decisions keep evolving and more data collected on their preferences, the approach and messaging get more tailored to content relevant to the user.
For example, if you added fitness equipment to your cart, you may get a tailored email on discounts on yoga mats or running shoes. The website used your wish list to inform you about deals that would interest you.
Brand vs. customer
Multi-channel marketing puts the brand at the centre of its grand scheme. The goal is to increase brand awareness and sales by using two or more channels to engage users.
They try to cast the net as wide as possible using the same message.
Conversely, omnichannel marketing puts the customer amid their approach. Every move enhances the user experience across all platforms from the onset of their journey with a brand.
The strategy, engagement, and service delivery keep changing according to the user’s choices and patterns to give them a holistic and frictionless experience.
What defines an excellent omnichannel customer experience?
In today’s world, there is nothing customers enjoy more than comfort. They want to avoid every hurdle possible in their shopping experience.
This is because they are either time-strapped or enjoy luxury. Any business that wants to beat their competitors should centre on this vital requirement; convenience.
Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer and provide them with every comfort you would want.
All platforms are coordinated when it comes to execution and service delivery. It takes only one loose brick to bring the entire building down.
Consequently, all the channels employed in an omnichannel marketing strategy should work together to offer customers a consistent and fluid journey.
Let me use a real-life example; If I make a payment for an order through your website, I should get an SMS notification confirming my payment and an email with my payment details.
Engaging your customers across several platforms is great, but what kind of content are you using to get their attention. It is important to tailor messages according to their online purchasing or viewing behaviour to feel catered for not harassed with irrelevant content.
The latter can even induce them to uninstall the app or unsubscribe from your website completely. On the other hand, if your curated messages are to their speed and style, your sales will grow, and so will their loyalty.
As a business trying to build customer loyalty, it is your job to empower users with information that will enable them to make the most suitable purchasing decisions.
All your platforms should be in alignment such that users are not left to their own devices at any stage in the buying process. Equip them with information on hot sales and bargains or information about products in a weekly newsletter.
A competitive brand should be able to keep up with new and emerging marketing tools and features. Every other day, new technology is emerging to reduce the hurdles that users face when shopping online.
It is incumbent upon you to quickly adopt these features to capture and retain as many users as possible. This is because the needs of a customer are never changing. Their standards revolve around ease, speed, and convenience.
How to create an omni-channel marketing strategy
1. Embody the user
If you want to know how best to custom-build your brand to cater to the needs of your users, put yourself in their shoes. Before a business owner, you are a buyer yourself.
Look for processes in the buyer experience you wish were shorter or easier and modify your features to eliminate these hurdles across all platforms.
2. Plan the experience of the user
Start by isolating every step of the buying process and looking for ways to streamline it.
This is followed by walking through each step after making the necessary adjustments.
After simplifying the customer shopping experience, it is now time to make it frictionless across all channels.
3. Collect and utilise data
To implement a great omnichannel marketing strategy, it’s critical that you learn everything you possibly can about your customers.
This information is available across all platforms from their purchasing choices, their carts, and browsing history on the websites. Alternatively, you can use questionnaires and survey forms if you have specific questions.
This data can personalise the content and engagement across all platforms with relevant and meaningful content.
4. Segment the users and personalize their journey
A big part of getting your omnichannel marketing strategy right is targeting and personalization.
With all these platforms, you have a vast expanse of data at your disposal. Liaise with the technical, sales, and marketing departments so that you can use this data to segment users.
Decide along which parameters you want to categorise them, and then tailor your messaging and engagement to suit each group and stimulate more sales.
You can segment your users; Demographics, Geographical, Behavioural and Psychographic.
Consumers are grouped according to their purchasing habits, frequency, and average purchasing power in my behavioural segmentation.
If a user has not made a purchase in over a month, an automatic message is triggered to remind them about an abandoned cart or a seasonal offer.
It would be wasteful to send such a message to a frequent user, which is why capitalising on the available data is vital.
5. Use the right channels
Just like anything in life, omnichannel marketing is not a one-fit for all kind of strategy. You cannot pick one company’s success story and apply it to your own business.
The channels that work for your demographic or income bracket might not work for another. It is essential to select the right omnichannel marketing platforms that best suit your target market.
6. Ensure that your organisation is customer-oriented
All these platforms are pointless if your workforce is not well trained in customer care and elevates the customer experience.
All departments in all channels are trained in handling the customers right from when they encounter the brand to provide feedback on their purchase.
The sales, marketing, and technical departments are vital in streamlining and integrating the customer experience at all touchpoints.
7. Test, Measure, and Test Again
Your omnichannel marketing strategy will make bigger and better strides as you collect, analyse and exploit more customer data.
This requires you actively trying out different messages, approaches, campaigns, and even platforms. Test your processes frequently to see which of your classes of buyers best respond to which types of messages.
Tracking and measuring your sales, revenue, responses, buying trends after executing new approaches will result in finding a working formula.
Update and re-audit your customer experience after new findings to get the most out of your omnichannel marketing strategy. Remove what is not working or tweak it and try out new things. The key to success is removing the fear of failure.
Benefits of omni-channel marketing
1. Boosting customer loyalty
Who would not return to a brand with outstanding customer care and excellent service?
Because all channels work together to produce one pleasant experience, customers are inclined to return for a second and third purchase.
Customers appreciate structure and responsiveness, which an omnichannel marketing strategy offers adequately if well designed and executed.
2. Improving brand recall
Omni-channel marketing provides a consistent message throughout the customer journey.
Take note, the message is not the same across all platforms but merely aligns across all platforms. This means that all the channels work in harmony to complement each other.
The ease with ordering from the website is followed by a stress-free payment confirmation and delivery or transparent return policy.
The channels are an extension of one another, thus presenting a well-put-together brand.
When a client has such a comfortable experience on more than one channel, the chances are high that they will always take note to use your service because it is difficult to find good service providers.
Another advantage is word-of-mouth advertising. First-time buyers will rave about your company to others hence expanding your customer base at no extra cost.
3. Increase in revenue
Because of brand recall, increased customer retention, and word-of-mouth marketing, your revenue is bound to increase.
Omni-channel marketing is a double win because you cast a wide net by employing many channels. Still, you retain those customers by offering them a cohesive and fluid customer experience.
Is omnichannel marketing worth it?
Without a doubt, omnichannel marketing is worth the effort.
Customers who employed an omnichannel campaign using three or more channels had higher engagement than those who interacted with email-only campaigns.
When studying the engagement rate based on total engagement per channel, marketers who used more channels had higher engagement across the board.
Engagement rate: 18.96% on omnichannel vs. 5.4% on single-channel
Using three or more channels in an automation workflow earned an 18.96% engagement rate, while the single-channel counterparts earned a just 5.4% engagement rate.
These numbers are too staggering to ignore. Omni-channel marketing is a game-changer and a sure way to build your reputation and claim your stake in the eCommerce world.
Brands that have succeeded with an omnichannel marketing strategy
You cannot talk about omnichannel marketing without mentioning Amazon, which has been the most successful eCommerce platform globally. When you hear Amazon, the first words that come to mind are innovation and customer orientation.
Amazon is so convenient right now that you can place an order using a voice command. They have made it possible to eliminate the cart filling process with the ‘one click’ to repurchase.
Recently, they have introduced Amazon Prime that comes with same-day deliveries. All this with the most unbeatable prices. Amazon is a true testament to a well-oiled omnichannel marketing machine.
Sephora was one of the first adopters of an omnichannel strategy as part of their digital marketing approach.
Sephora utilised both data and technology to personalise the customer experience online and in physical stores by using an app where customers can purchase beauty products and even watch makeup tutorials.
With this ‘Beauty Bag feature,’ they can go as far as seeing see how different shades of makeup look on them and add them to their cart if they approve.
VIP.com is a prominent ecommerce marketplace that operates in China. The company is a B2B website that charges retailers that sell goods on its platform.
VIP.com offers an omnichannel experience by helping retailers find and trade with potential customers. When retailers post new products on VIP.com, the site’s geolocation feature sends push notifications to customers located in the seller’s area.
These potential buyers can then visit the store physically or have VIP.com deliver the order for them, a wholly contactless and convenient delivery, just by the push of a few buttons.
These brands are a few of the hundreds that have employed the unfailing strategy that is omnichannel marketing. You do not have to be a big brand to make the most out of omnichannel marketing strategy.
Take your brand to the next level, boost your sales, revenue, and customer retention by making the most of this free trial today.
Gerald Ainomugisha is a freelance Content Solutions Provider (CSP) offering both content and copy writing services for businesses of all kinds, especially in the niches of management, marketing and technology.