With social media, apps, catalogues - both online and offline - phone calls, websites and physical stores all being points of contact for a customer and a brand, marketing needs to consider each of these aspects part of a whole. This is where omnichannel marketing comes in.
What is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel marketing is all about delivering a seamless customer experience no matter what method an individual uses to engage with a brand or the device they opt for. It helps to ensure there is a sense of cohesion across a brand's marketing, rather than having each aspect - such as the website, in-store and social media - all being managed differently.
Using omnichannel marketing ensures that all campaigns are fully complementary, working together to inform customer experience rather than representing the brand in different ways that don't always work together. This multi-channel sales approach provides a fully integrated experience, linking each channel in a way that works and builds a stronger relationship with the customer.
Not only does this result in more positive experiences, as Emarsys notes, successful omnichannel marketing can also result in a 91% higher year-on-year rise in customer retention compared to brands that don't have omnichannel marketing strategies.
Omnichannel marketing Vs multichannel marketing
One of the biggest differences between omnichannel and multichannel marketing is that omnichannel is all about the customer experience, whereas multichannel tends to be about the corporate perspective.
Multichannel is all about getting as much engagement as possible by sending marketing messages across numerous channels. Ordinarily, this means sending a message across a couple of channels - with social and email being popular choices - in a bid to drive purchases and increase ROI.
In comparison, omnichannel connects every possible channel to form a deeper connection with a customer, meaning that everything - from Facebook to in-store - is linked seamlessly. This means that messages aren't just about driving purchases - they help to improve continued engagement, awareness and brand loyalty.
As John Bowden, senior vice president of customer care at Time Warner Cable, says:
Multichannel is an operational view - how you allow the customer to complete transactions in each channel. Omnichannel, however, is viewing the experience through the eyes of your customer, orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent.
Omnichannel anticipates that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution. Making these complex ‘hand-offs’ between channels must be fluid for the customer. Simply put, omnichannel is multi-channel done right.
Relevant to the moment
While all marketing relies on content, omnichannel marketing puts focus on the context of that content. Instead of just putting content out there on several different channels, this approach looks into when a customer will be seeing that content to ensure it is relevant to them at that particular time in order to improve their experience.
Not only does the content need to be viewable across all devices and lead to other platforms in order to improve conversion, it has to resonate with a customer, which is why timing is everything. Ensuring messages are relevant to a customer exactly where they are, not where a marketing department wants them to be, helps to build a stronger relationship and increase the likelihood of conversion and future engagement.
As Lisa Gevelber from Google states:
With empowered consumers now connecting across an array of devices in a variety of situations, the way a marketer wins is by offering information people value in those moments. It’s not that being relevant is a new concept. But being relevant to the moment is where marketing power - and consumer expectations - now lie.
This means that omnichannel marketing may need more content, but this content needs to have the research and strategy to back it up in order to ensure it hits the mark at the right time.
Understand the customer
In order to create the right content for the right time and the best platform, an in-depth knowledge of the customer is required. This is what omnichannel marketing is built on and, as such, research is the key to a successful campaign.
As customers interact with a brand across so many channels and devices, having an understanding of their behavior provides a holistic view of them, allowing you to tailor their experience. Omnichannel marketing relies heavily on fleshed-out personas that provide an intimate understanding of the customer, including their goals, challenges and where they are coming from.
You can gain this information in a number of ways, including customer feedback, social listening and lead capture landing pages. Find out which channels they use to access content and what a typical user journey from this point looks like in order to create a strategy that drives activity and works across all platforms in an effective way. As Shelley Kramer from V3B says, a single customer view is the foundation of a successful omnichannel marketing campaign.
However, as with all customer research, it is important to continue collecting and evaluating data in order to better inform future marketing efforts. As omnichannel marketing is so reliant on the customer journey, understanding how it is changing is vital to ensuring your strategy can move with the trends and remain effective.