Marketing is changing rapidly. Brands seek to create relationships with customers, rather than just pushing products and services. The interaction between a customer and a brand takes place in multiple channels, and most brands strive to make it seamless. This article aims to show you how to stay tuned and adjust your marketing strategy to the needs of the modern customer.
What is Omnichannel Marketing?
Omnichannel Marketing is a marketing concept which relies on switching between different marketing channels throughout the buyers' journey, creating a seamless and comprehensive customer experience with the product content.
The aim of omnichannel marketing is to create the highest level of flexibility for the customer. It creates a seamless, cross-channel message personalized for each customer based on their behavior. All the channels are integrated, the company’s voice and image are consistent, the information is unified.
Consumers can interact with a company on an online website or mobile app, in a physical store, through a catalog, and on social media. They can interact with you online using a smartphone, tablet, desktop computer or a laptop, or they can call you.
Usually, they start their journey on one channel and then move to the other. Many customers will, for example, browse for items online, then go and try them on in a shop before buying, or vice verse, spot something while visiting a store and then order delivery online. The majority of customers switch between at least four devices while making a buying decision and purchasing. Each time the customer browses, the brand image and information should be consistent and complementary.
Omnichannel Marketing vs Multichannel Marketing vs Cross-Channel Marketing
Multichannel marketing describes the communication strategy where brands use different communication measures to reach and influence people from different target groups. Communication over different channels operates completely independently with no cross communication. Resources are divided between the channels.
In cross-channel marketing, messages interact with the target group on the different channels. These messages are attuned to a particular mean, by using the advantages of all channels, maximizing conversions and using synergistic effects.
Omnichannel Marketing takes cross-channel marketing even further, by enabling synchronization and coordination of product communication among different channels. Customers can switch seamlessly between channels. Communication via these channels can take place simultaneously and in parallel. The aim is to offer a uniform but unique customer experience.
For all these marketing concepts the communication measures include online aspects such as search engine advertising, display marketing, social media marketing, online PR and email marketing, as well as offline measures such as print advertisements, sponsoring, trade fairs and events or personal sales.
Why omnichannel marketing is important?
Omnichannel marketing makes the products or services of your company easily accessible. Customers who consider purchasing them and consistently encounter relevant, personalized and unified information across the channels, are more likely to buy. According to the BI research, customers spend more money with omnichannel brands.
An omnichannel marketing strategy simplifies your marketing message. If you just keep bombarding consumers with information via all possible channels with no consideration for consistency and personalization, Your customer could become confused and get tired of it.
The omnichannel marketing approach increases customer retention and loyalty. It enables correct follow-up integration, convenient customer service, seamless operation across channels, the ability to address all questions, and should include convenient returns. As a result this approach improves brand recall for your customers and increases the possibility of purchase. Omnichannel marketing in the first step to increasing brand revenue.
The customer journey isn’t a straight line from point A to point B. Omnichannel marketing makes interactions with your company easy and useful at every touchpoint.
Who needs omnichannel marketing
For b2c companies, omnichannel marketing is already a must. Brands have had to adjust their omnichannel strategies to the expectations of consumers. But in b2b revenue depends even more on relationships. That’s why b2b companies are taking the omnichannel approach too.
Challenges and trends in omnichannel marketing for 2021-2025
Creating a great customer experience across multiple channels is still a challenging task. So, what are the most important challenges predicted for 2021-2025?
You can’t just cover all the channels and then forget about them. New channels will appear and old ones may become irrelevant to your business. You have to constantly follow the processes and quickly establish your presence on new channels. On the other hand, marketing funds have to be timeously redistributed from irrelevant to more relevant channels.
Switching between channels should be easy but it shouldn’t be a requirement nor should it be pushed. Many customers may find this disturbing. In the best case it should be possible to checkout in a single channel.
Many companies have tried to implement an omnichannel marketing strategy in siloed teams with siloed budgets. Often, the results are contra-omni. If there are separate offline and online marketing teams, for example, they may compete with each other. Suddenly, they’re not working to gain new customers for the brand. Instead, they’re competing with one another for existing customers. To overcome this challenge, omnichannel companies often merge the teams and reorganize the company.
To develop and support an omnichannel marketing strategy, you have to collect, integrate and process large volumes of data from different sources. To get insights from the raw data, you need Data Science and AI. Plan this in advance. Also, it’s important to act timeously and use the data to improve your strategy, and not just store it.
It’s important to integrate all the channels to distribute consistent and unified information. The technical connection of all channels and cross-channel data is a basic requirement for omnichannel marketing. This can be accomplished only with the right technological solutions. The integration of the entire omnichannel approach into existing structures and processes as well as into the corporate culture has been the greatest challenge (or even hurdle) so far.
Integration of data management tools
Many companies have acquired software for analytics, social media marketing management, content creation, lead nurturing, SEO, email marketing, etc. For omnichannel marketing purposes, to create a seamless experience and deliver high-quality unified data, they must integrate all these systems. Sometimes, it’s possible to use all the necessary tools on one platform.
The wide use of AI
AI is increasingly used to understand customers (it’s closely connected with personalization). AI solutions can let you know exactly what people say about your brand in real time. It’s a key to many crucial marketing moves, like delivering better ads and a more efficient search for definite items and forecasting sales.
This trend is evergreen since it became technically possible. Many customers, especially younger ones, don’t mind sharing their personal data to receive more personalized services. They expect the brands to know who they are and what they want, and to offer the right products and services. There are numerous stats that illustrate the importance of personalization for 2021.
This is one more tool that you may want to embrace. People are often more willing to buy from someone they trust than to react to an ad that pops up on their screen. More than 60% of consumers have at some point taken a buying decision, been affected by digital influencers.
It is not easy to examine the effects of the various channels on success of the company and its brands. Customer journeys should be analyzed in detail. The following questions must be answered - which channels does the customer use to gather and analyze the information about the product he wants to buy and which channels are used for purchasing. Channel marketing must be optimized accordingly.
Leveraging user-generated content
This is another way for a brand to generate recommendations by someone who people trust. It’s a form of word of mouth marketing. Studies show that people trust other consumers. Reviews and testimonials, user-generated images, videos, and blog posts can all be used to increase awareness. Companies may offer customers incentives to create and share content that features the brand and so, encourage recommendations.
Best practice for omnichannel marketing
Before embarking on a new venture, you should revise what you already have and understand how it works. Revise the experience of your customers. Try searching for your own goods in search engines, in reviews, etc. Complete an order in the way you would do if you were a customer. Contact the support team. You might get insights about some inconveniences your customers face, if there are any.
Start by laying the basis for omnichannel marketing
Restructure the marketing team to create work efficiencies for the omnichannel strategy. Merge offline and online teams. Train and educate all the employees to support the strategy.
Collect the data that you can leverage to build your strategy free of guesswork. Even if you are not using AI at this stage, you should base your strategy on data analytics.
Know your customers
Omnichannel marketing puts the customer in the center of its efforts. The customer journey should be analyzed with the aim of providing a consistent customer experience over all channels. A customer-first focus is a must for your whole marketing team.
Segment your audience and target the message
Be sure to target your audience with individual promotional messages. Collect and analyze the data from all possible sources, create customer personas and use cases. Decide on what channels your audience uses and what content you should deliver. The content delivered to each customer should be aligned with their previous behavior (eg activity during recent campaigns), demographic information, the age of the customer, the money spent, gender and so on. The more information you have about your customer, the more accurate is your customer segmentation.
Start with a few channels
A customer needs at least 5 touchpoints with a brand to feel comfortable so that they are happy to purchase the product. You can only achieve this if you subscribe to several advertising channels. So forget the single channel approach and choose a couple of channels which will interest your target audience.
Audit the offered customer experience
Audit everything you do and learn from your mistakes. Imagine being a customer and analyze information offered and how it is delivered via different channels. Don’t hesitate to ask your customers for feedback, how can you improve your offering and create a better experience unless you do. Collect feedback on a regular basis, if possible automate it.
Provide a multi-device experience
Customers want to continue where they left off. Create an integrated experience to provide a consistent message, design and tone of voice across each channel and device to support seamless interaction. The content should be delivered so that it creates a unified picture. Consumers use different devices to purchase. According to statistics more than 60% of customers start their journey on a smartphone, about 60% of them continue on a PC/laptop. About 25% start on PC/laptop and about 20% of them continue on a smartphone.
Use the right mixture of marketing and service tools
Using the right technologies for your marketing mix in omnichannel is a must, if you want to succeed, you should use the following tools:
- Social Media Tools
- Data Analytics Tools
- Customer Service Software
- Marketing Automation Tools
- CDP (Customer Data Platform)
- CRM (Customer Relation Management Software)
- PIM (Product Information Management Software).
Reliable customer service software should be mentioned separately. With the help of these tools service personnel can gather more information about customer problems and needs and use the information to better assist them.
Integrate these tools, to centralize all the needed information.
Personalize across all your channels
All the tools mentioned above will enable you to personalize the customer experience at different touchpoints across all your channels. This should make your customers happy and convince them to purchase your product.
Enable chatbots and self-service
Customers have questions. Getting an answer to these questions can cost a lot of time, because it is not always possible for customer service to answer questions immediately. Use chatbots to answer customer questions. By enabling self-service (eg via Online Help centers, FAQs, HowTo sections on the website) you give the customer more ways to find the right answers.
Measure everything you do
Carefully check the results of your campaigns to align your strategy with customer behavior. But be sure to reconsider your metrics as you start implementing the omnichannel strategy. Online and offline sales, for example, shouldn’t be evaluated separately.
B2b and b2c companies use omnichannel marketing to ensure a unified product experience. This approach can offer a business many advantages and can lead to better user engagement and brand awareness. Customers will, at the same time, expect a higher level of service from you. Delivering a simple, unified message helps to motivate customers in their buying decisions and increase customer retention.
You can’t build an omnichannel marketing strategy in a day: you need a trained team, new success metrics, and a technical basis for channel integration. Some omnichannel marketing trends for 2021-2025 are personalization, the use of user-generated content and influencer marketing, and the application of AI to data analysis.
Today, customers expect that as they move from channel to channel, device to device, or from person to chatbot, you will follow them. So don’t disappoint them and start developing an omnichannel marketing strategy now.