The consumer changes and marketing evolves. More and more consumers are finding new ways to shop, shifting between channels, starting research on one device and in one channel, and then switching to another. In response, some companies have started to develop a new approach to match this new shopping style. But as more and more companies go omnichannel, more and more consumers expect each business they interact with to provide them with the same high-level, seamless shopping experience.
Omnichannel marketing is a marketing approach aimed at delivering a seamless customer experience across channels.
An omnichannel marketing strategy refers to the broad plan for achieving the company’s objectives by creating a seamless customer experience across all channels.
Why is an omnichannel marketing strategy important?
When you develop your strategy for the next planning period and review your operating environment, you’ll notice some trends. One of them is that some, or most, of your competitors are already taking steps towards an omnichannel approach to marketing, and the other is that your customers expect you to deliver the same kind of experience.
Studies show that the brands that have embraced a strong omnichannel strategy are more successful than those that don’t. They’ve increased their engagement and purchase rate and their customer retention rate is 91% higher.
Another point is that, for now, most companies use the multichannel approach and face challenges arising from it. An example is the management of order fulfillment and customer service via multiple channels. The company that develops an omnichannel marketing strategy is prepared to overcome these challenges by channel integration.
Who needs an omnichannel marketing strategy?
As the omnichannel approach becomes increasingly popular, most probably, in the near future, every company will have to take up an omnichannel marketing strategy. For now, it gets a must-have for B2C, retail companies.
How to build an omnichannel strategy
You can choose from a number of omnichannel marketing best practices and tactics, gaining insight from the experience of other brands. But to develop a strong strategy, you can’t just add a few best practices to your marketing efforts, you need to start from the beginning.
1. Understand and segment your customers
Use data analytics to understand who your customers are, what channels they prefer and how they behave across the channels. Plan the flow of their experience. Based on common behavior patterns, segment users into categories and map personalized journeys for each segment.
2. Create a unified brand message
To engage users and create a persistent image across all the channels, you should deliver a unified message, in a specific tone of voice, and support this with unified visuals.
3. Select the right tools
Select your tools based on your customers, their chosen channels and the main business objectives for the forthcoming planning period. Most companies will have to update their systems and integrate their tools for multi-channel marketing.
4. Organize the implementation of the strategy
To make your strategy work, you may have to make some organizational changes. Rethink how your marketing team works for example. If there are separate online and offline teams, it may be wise to merge them for more effective teamwork. Separate marketing budgets may also hinder progress. Consider all your internal processes and how you can improve them under the new approach.
Practical examples of omnichannel marketing strategies
The customer journey to the Disney world is carefully mapped. People can start their research on the website and then seamlessly continue it on the app. Both the website and the app allow you to plan a trip to Disneyland in fine detail, booking the stay and tickets, choosing the attractions and more. As customers come to the park, they receive either Magic Band wearable devices or cards that help to create an unforgettable Disneyland experience. Visitors can get everything they want, and they’re completely unaware that they are switching channels. They can get a FastPass in the app and use it via their Magic Bands. They can check the waiting time in the lines to the attractions they planned to visit, find Disney characters on the map, and unlock personalized surprises. Even the pictures taken in Disneyland are automatically synchronized with the app, and they’re easily downloaded. Disney uses online tools to enhance the visitors’ offline experience.
Nike’s strategy is to create a community of active people who purchase their sportswear. In the course of this strategy, they create apps for loyal members and, at the same time, offer customers a great offline experience. Nike+ is a mobile apps suite that consists of the Nike+ app which corresponds to the website and offers the same merchandise plus personalized offers that include Nike+ Run Club app, and Nike+ Training Club, Nike+ SNKRS, and Nike+ Fuel. These apps create memberships and allow customers to interact with the company beyond just making purchases. Nike’s Houses of Innovation provide consumer-focused spaces and experiences like Nike+ Running, Soccer, and Basketball trial zones with sensors, powered by a gaming engine, where you can try on the footwear and get real-time, on-screen feedback to understand the benefits of playing in different Nike shoe pairs. Nike also provides an in-store experience by allowing visitors to play a VR game wearing its shoes. The offline and online experiences are connected. Customers can, for example, check in-store availability of an item and reserve it to collect from a special locker. Nike is doing a great job in developing a consistent and clear brand message via all channels.
This pharmaceutical giant defines itself not by the products it sells but through the benefits its customers get. Walgreens relies on its app for its omnichannel marketing strategy. In the app, consumers can make a virtual appointment with a doctor, and then collect the prescription at the nearest Walgreens. The brand also solves the refill problem. Its customers can choose from among several convenient ways to refill their prescriptions automatically. The app uses geofencing to remind the customers, in the Walgreens vicinity of their remaining loyalty points. Shop assistants in-store are armed with mobile tech so that they can provide accurate product information and check availability of stock, as well as order products that are out of stock. So the brand preserves the necessary “human touch” in the pharmacy empowered by tech. All this creates a seamless, caring experience and increases engagement and sales.
The omnichannel marketing strategy allows a company to increase engagement, retention and revenue by providing customers with the seamless experience they expect. The strategy defines a way to deliver a consistent brand message and great customer experience across channels. Successful brands are leading the way in showing that customers need more than just products. They need to shop in the most convenient way, and they must be taken care of as part of the community.