Changes in consumer behavior and the introduction of new technologies have altered the marketplace. It introduced the multiple ways that customers can interact with your brand.
A few examples include website live chat, smartphone applications, online review sites, direct messaging, and social media shout-outs and comments.
These new ways to interact with customers presented brands, both opportunities, and challenges.
To make the most of opportunities and cope with challenges, brands are investing in a strategy known as omnichannel marketing.
What is Omnichannel Marketing
Omnichannel marketing is the seamless integration of every traditional and digital channel used by the brand to communicate with its customers before, during, and after the customer buys what they offer. The customer receives a unified and personalized marketing message based on where they are in the customer journey, also known as the buyer’s journey.
Image Source: Crazy Egg
Although the message is the same on all channels, it is delivered utilizing the strengths of each channel. This results in the brand providing a more compelling message while providing convenience and personalization to the customer.
Examples of useful omnichannel marketing include:
- Customers getting reminders through an email, direct message, or SMS about their abandoned cart
- Following up on customers who expressed an interest on an offer through email or Facebook Messenger
- Customers receiving promotions through SMS or Facebook Messenger while in-store browsing items
- Customers browsing items online that are on stock in the store
- Mobile apps that enhance customer experience with what the brand offers
- Front-end personnel having access to a CRM that lets them provide a personalized experience through updated and accurate customer information
- In-store customers getting out-of-stock items shipped directly to their homes
- A loyalty program that customers can access through an app
- Using customer shopping history to provide product suggestions in-store or online
- Customers can skip the line by using mobile applications to order products ahead before picking them up from the store
Why is Omnichannel Marketing Important
According to a study by Target Marketing magazine, 94 percent of today’s customers want an omnichannel experience from brands.
These customers expect it most from businesses and services in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, hospitality, IT, financial services, and publishing.
Retailing and e-tailing only ranked 7th out of all the industries that customers expect such an experience.
Customers want to see consistency from every point of interaction they have with a brand. They want the same level of excellence in all channels that a brand has in one. They want brands to remember them and give them a personalized service every time.
They do not want to repeat their questions or complaint from one channel to the next and expect that phone support knows exactly what they said in their email to them.
Full integration of mobile channels
Smartphones and other mobile devices have already surpassed internet traffic from computers. These mobile devices enable customers to access information and transmit transactions wherever they can access the internet.
This provides businesses immense benefits primarily through their promotional and e-commerce channels. However, these opportunities to interact more with the customer also comes with the problems businesses face with internet-savvy customers.
Customers learned to expect the best from brands, particularly in e-commerce, thanks to their experience with Amazon. They expect the same ease in checking out, paying, and receiving their orders. If they encounter any kind of inconvenience in their experience, they abandon their online shopping carts.
Through an omnichannel approach, customers have an easier time getting the information they need to make that purchase.
Online channels are seamlessly integrated into the business’ inventory management and logistics. Altogether, these help ensure that customers only see items that are in stock, easily make purchases online, to track said purchases, and receive the orders in a timely manner.
Customers do not think in channels
Customers expect an omnichannel experience.
But, they do not have any idea about these channels. All that they see is the brand as a whole. They do not see one channel as separate from the others.
This means the customer expects that the information they provide if they call customer support would be known by the in-store staff or by chat support. They also expect help to be given promptly and, if one channel fails to meet their expectations, they see it as the whole brand’s failure.
Customers are frequently switching between different channels
Customers do not stay on one channel until they make a purchase. They will switch to different channels. This is often due to their preference for where they want to make a purchase. Or, they make their research from different information sources before making a buying decision.
Having an omnichannel approach in marketing will help your brand stay with the customer as they are making this decision.
They will go through the internet by researching other products, comparing competing brands to yours, reading customer reviews, and checking for product availability.
Integrating live chat support, email subscription, internet ads, the brand’s social media presence, and content marketing efforts, answers to FAQs on the website, and an online store seamlessly will help the customer make this decision faster and more favorably towards your brand.
Customers are starting to prefer self-service
Although self-service channels started as a cost-cutting strategy, customers now prefer it over seeking the assistance of a company representative. They require that they can look up answers and fix problems without having to contact customer support.
This new preference requires companies to integrate their efforts in creating a knowledge base for the customer. This means those in product development should provide information to the marketing team so they can translate it into a language that customers will understand.
Furthermore, customer support representatives and in-store personnel should also provide marketing personnel with questions that customers frequently ask.
Creates long-term customers
Customers of a brand using omnichannel marketing are more likely to stay as long-term customers or become a strong word of mouth referral source.
This is due to customers having a more convenient time of purchasing products, getting customer support, and getting product and promotional updates. “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” –Content Marketing Institute Moreover, omnichannel marketing can use content marketing to keep existing customers engaged with the brand. In this way, the customer is up-to-date with the latest promos for new products and discounts.
Omnichannel vs. Multichannel
Multichannel marketing combines different channels to distribute products or services to accommodate how and where the customers make their purchases.
Like omnichannel marketing, it also requires adequate organizational infrastructure and support to work. It also requires consistency across all channels for it to be effective.
Multichannel marketing requires each of these channels to remain profitable to justify that the investment was worthwhile.
Although it might seem similar to omnichannel marketing, multichannel does not qualify as omnichannel marketing. It has some limitations, which makes omnichannel as the superior one of the two.
Omnichannel marketing does not concern itself with the profitability of one channel over the other. It’s centered around the overall profitability that the strategy makes for the whole brand.
It goes beyond using different channels to create transaction points between the brand and the customer. Instead, omnichannel marketing also concerns itself with the interaction and communication between the customer and the brand.
Omnichannel marketing provides a customer-centric approach wherein all customer expectations are met.
Channels are used to collect data on improvements on existing products or developing new ones that customers actually want.
The different points of interaction provide value-added content on product information, recommendations, customer reviews, and troubleshooting advice. In some cases, some channels even provide entertainment that helps the brand maintain engagement with its audience.
What Defines a Good Omnichannel Experience
Omnichannel marketing provides an omnichannel experience to the customer. But what constitutes such an experience?
Here are some essential characteristics present in good omnichannel customer experience:
Internal teams are united towards a single goal
Seamless integrations between the different channels of the brand starts in the teams managing each.
A brand’s teams for product development, marketing, public relations, sales, customer service, and IT should work together towards creating a single vision for customer experience.
Although their functions and expertise will still be different, having a single vision will help guide their decision-making while maintaining harmony between teams.
Of course, team members should also work well within each department. Each member should have a clear definition of their responsibilities, know what is expected of them, and constantly communicate with other members and departments.
Customers can easily switch between channels
Customers are expected to switch between the different channels of a brand. Each channel must seamlessly connect while exhibiting the best-optimized configurations.
The channels should also work well and have access to the information the customer has provided in the past. Lastly, there should be a consistent style in design and language across all channels that are consistent and easily associated with the brand.
The use of an omnichannel interface
Omnichannel marketing requires the use of an interface to integrate the different channels into a single system.
This platform provides the necessary technology to synchronize data across all channels. It will also collect and organize data into a format that the channels and different personnel involved can use for interacting with the customer and analyzing KPIs.
Using email as a primary channel
Email is still an effective way to promote your products and maintain contact with your customers.“91 percent of US adults like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with.” –MarketingSherpa Moreover, a customer’s email account is more likely to remain the same, unlike their social media account. An individual might stop using a platform, but they are more likely to use the same email to sign up for new social networks in the future.
However, a typical email message would not do anymore since using email also now requires personalization to the individual. Also, email messages should be optimized for mobile devices since customers would probably be using their smartphones to read their mail.
Each stage of the customer’s journey is considered
A message will only be compelling if it is received at the right time. Because of this, brands must communicate the appropriate message for their status as a customer.
This requires the business to have an updated persona of their buyers at all times.
Brands must also map out all the interactions that its buyers take so they can plan effective strategies and appropriate messages for each encounter.
An excellent mobile experience
Customers use their phones to interact with a brand. The smartphone is being used whether they use it to browse its website, read email, read the blog, view its social media posts, or access the brand’s app.
Because of the multiple channels accessed with mobile devices, brands must optimize all their messages for mobile consumption.
Using channels that customers use
An omnichannel approach does not change the basics of marketing.
Brands still have to reach out to potential customers to create new ones and to provide excellent customer service to retain existing ones. To do this, a brand must have channels in places where their customers spend their time.
Customers only perceive all the channels singularly
Even if there are many channels, customers do not like interacting with multiple channels. They feel as if interacting with only one channel, and that is essentially the brand.
Customer service representatives know their complaints and previous issues with the product without the need to ask them again. Every interaction channel used by the brand has a customer service feature.
Omnichannel marketing is the future of business. Businesses have no choice but to adopt it since today’s consumers expect it from the brands they intend to use.
Fortunately, implementing an efficient omnichannel marketing strategy can give businesses higher revenue. It can help them improve the quality and speed of their customer service.
It can improve customer satisfaction, which can help retain customers for long-term business and improve word-of-mouth marketing for acquiring new ones.
The key to effectively developing an omnichannel approach is to develop one medium at a time. Setting up multiple accounts all at once could have a negative impact.
You need to fully understand your customer’s journey and understand how to include said medium into your overall strategy.