Omnichannel Marketing: Everything You Need to Know

Sep 28, 2021
Omnichannel Marketing

Before we dive into the “nooks and crannies” of Omni Channel Marketing, there’s one important question that we need to ask ourselves first: “What does Omni Channel stand for”?

So, shortly put, it’s an integrated approach to customer-centric processes, i.e. multiple interaction channels are combined into a single management system, in order to improve user experience and customer satisfaction. As the recent decades have shown us, the most and utmost important stakeholder for any business is, without a doubt, the consumer. So, basically every step taken in business is with this one consideration.

In order to satisfy the customer, brands need to have and integrate both online & offline channels with the goal of offering consistent experience to the user. The traits below depict why the consumer usually channel-hops for even a single item:

  • Customers are impatient
  • First-time customers usually go online to search for information
  • Customers prefer to shop close to their locations

Omnichannel marketing helps brands think like a customer and know how they want to be engaged. As it seamlessly integrates the different communications channels, it delivers a consistent and effective brand message.

This is where the omnichannel solution steps in as it provides the consumer with freedom to choose where, how, and when to engage with the product or service provider and it makes things easier with the latter. Any consumer pays a great deal of attention to their valuable time, hence businesses should figure out the best and most effective roadmap to get the customer from A to Z with a strong message in place.

Omnichannel solutions focus on both online (digital e.g. websites, apps) and offline (physical e.g. stores, retails) channels. Whether it’s important to combine both or go with one rather than the other is purely based on the business. There are many factors to consider before deciding on the channel or even both: for instance the industry, the sector, the types of products and services provided, the demographics, and the different elements.

If you are a Cloud Communications Platform vendor, you most certainly don’t need a physical channel to consider, as your main product is software. However, if you are in eCommerce, you should consider a goal for the company to have a physical store somewhere in the future.

The term omnichannel is applied to many aspects of the business. If a brand can take payments through several channels- well, then, they provide omnichannel payment solutions for their consumers.

What is Omnichannel Marketing?

The same approach can be incorporated for the Marketing sector as well. So, now let’s ask ourselves the question “What is Omni Channel Marketing”? The traditional omnichannel marketing definition goes as follows: It is the integration (preferably seamless) of branding, messaging, online and offline channels for consumers in the sales funnel, that enables the customers to have a more impactful and better experience.

What this means for businesses is that they invest in acquiring various channels in order to be able to interact with consumers with the one main goal in mind: to create a consistent brand experience. The consumer, in turn, gets the opportunity to engage with brands on their own terms and via their preferred channels.

The omnichannel approach is responsible for the customer’s positive and consistent experience on each channel that the business provides. The multiple channels are integrated within the brand; so for instance brands in e-Commerce will consider providing their consumers with a physical shop, a website, a mobile app, and through social media.

Hence it gives the flexibility to the consumer to browse through and add items to cart via their desktops, for instance, then check out the cart via the mobile app the next day, or simply order it via a message on Facebook or Instagram.

The omnichannel marketing meaning may be a strange concept to get at first, but basically it's a cross-channel content strategy that organizations use to improve their user experience.

The important factors that each business should consider accomplishing through omnichannel marketing solutions are:

  • Consistent approach to consumer
  • Personalized messaging based on consumer segmentation
  • Identifiable brand from a first glance
  • Seamless user experience

Omnichannel Marketing Examples

Most of the successful brands worldwide have incorporated this marketing approach to their brands. Let’s have a look at the most vivid omnichannel marketing examples:

Starbucks

The Starbucks mobile rewards app is an immense source for the brand that integrated the mobile experience with time management experience. Can you imagine how many people would want to pre-order a cup of coffee on their way to or from work and not have to wait in line for the exhausting queues all the time. In fact, mobile payment makes up over 30% of their transactions. That’s what omnichannel marketing approach does for brands; if used correctly that is; it not only gives a better customer experience but also helps brands boost their revenues. And, that’s a win-win situation.

Timberland

While NFC tech is usually used for video games for paying for additional features, the Timberland brand has incorporated it with an interesting approach to boost the online experience with that of physical. The brand created Touchwall through NFC placed in the stores that gives consumers extra information about the item they want. Using the Touchwall the customers can add the selected items to their online shopping list (while being in the physical store) in order to shop for it later or simply purchase it in-store.

Walgreens

The second largest pharmacy store in the US, created its own custom mobile app that serves the purpose for customers to refill their prescriptions faster and easier. The app has a separate inventory section as well that saves a trip and time of the customer, showing the needed available item and the location it can be purchased from.

It’s no surprise that the omnichannel approach has gained popularity and infiltrated many industries. Of course, not every industry uses it to the same extent, but one can’t help overlook the benefits of it. Top three industries that benefit most from this approach are:

1. The Retail industry is the great source for filling any desires of vast consumerism.

With various channels that are centralized into one brand, the consumers interact with brands on the multitude of channels and reap the benefits of positive experience.

2. The Healthcare industry has undergone immense changes due to the recent

events of the Covid, and the lockdowns. The omnichannel solutions allow patients and doctors & healthcare institutions to interact with each other through various platforms and remove the obstacles at the same time of the need for physical presence. Doctors can give advice, consult and change the prescriptions of patients from afar and better cater to the needs of the patients: remind the patients about the doctor's appointment, provide them with access to their reports straight on their devices and even send out daily health tips to improve engagement.

3. Financial Services have made a leap for personalization through this approach as

well. That makes matters not only easy for the consumer to make transactions and pay the bills on the way to work in a car, but also to get the personalized and individual approach that we all know makes matters easy and time-saving. Banks, for instance, can use omnichannel marketing to remind their customers about the bills to be paid, announce the launches of new products and even reduce the queue lines.

Omnichannel Marketing Strategy

It’s crucial to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to omnichannel marketing strategy for brands and businesses to use. Having the best automation tools and channels in place isn’t enough to implement an omnichannel marketing strategy.

The one thing in common should be that each brand needs to ensure consistency in brand and customer experience. But how, when, where and why, for that matter, to approach them is a whole other story. While there’s a large number of marketing channels available not everything will work for you: remember there’s no one-size-fits-all.

Let’s go over a few characteristics that will help create a personalized omnichannel marketing strategy for your brand:

Customer - the Ultimate Stakeholder

Research and detailed analysis will help brands segment the audience accurately and determine personalized customer journeys. Ideally this doesn’t mean that you have to think of each consumer separately (that would be impossible), but to group the relevant ones and further breakdown from there. So, through analysis and segmentation you would need to understand the demographics, buyer personas, target audiences, their wants and needs, patterns, customer behavior, preferences and goals.

Tools

Consequently, before selecting any data gathering or marketing automation tools, a thorough research should be conducted to see what’s out there in order to select the right ones.

As you determine the groups to connect with, the next step becomes selecting the right tools and techniques. Some of the tool options include:

  • Customer Relationship Management software
  • Fully Integrated Customer Engagement platform
  • Marketing Automation tools
  • Social Media Management solutions
  • Data Analytics tools

Personalization & Segmentation

Each customer wants to feel unique and appreciated. That's why personalization is a crucial part for deciding on an omnichannel marketing strategy. Make sure to connect with your target audience in order to be able to deliver the individualized approach to them. The need for personalization may come from the fact that nowadays consumers spend more time researching what they want to buy, so in the end they can select the one they want; all the while experiencing a journey that makes them feel more appreciated and relevant. Whatever the case may be, it’s an important factor to consider for all brands, regardless of the industry or sector they operate in. Personalization helps brands with:

  • Understand customers
  • Connect with customers through their preferred channels
  • Determine the best incentives for customers
  • Select the right loyalty programs
  • Customize strategy based on research
  • Select the right marketing automation tools

The tools and data gathered are an immense base for strategizing your customer journey. If you know how customers behave you can know what to offer them and when. Segmenting users based on their behavior, purchase history and common patterns can be helpful to creating personalized messages so to give each customer the sense of individuality and be able to offer them the right incentives. Segmentation will help you create the right content for the right target group. If your message is irrelevant to the customer or on the wrong channel you just might lose engagement.

Omnichannel Marketing Platform

Omnichannel marketing platforms help businesses track where and how customers are interacting with your brand. It’s the surest way to secure consistency and uniformity within all your brand channels.

First, let’s have a look at the advantages of having an omnichannel marketing platform:

  • Combine Offline and Online Channels

Having an omnichannel platform ensures that you can combine all your offline and online channels at the same time to provide a seamless experience to your customers.

  • Consistent User Experience

The omnichannel marketing strategy ensures that your brand channels whether website, app or social media presence, whatever may be, have the same design and deliver the same messages. Consistent branding is key to user continuity, as the latter is left with familiarity and a personalized approach. The more familiar and personalized your brand appears to the user the more invested and loyal they will be.

  • Personalized Roadmap

What does each user want? They want an individual and personalized experience. They need to know that when an item is bought, the brand appreciates them and knows them. With each user being different you can’t have the one-size-fits-all approach, regardless of the area your brand is in. You need to determine a personalized approach to each and that can be achieved with data analysis and segmentation that omnichannel marketing approach comes with.

With the large array of omnichannel marketing platforms and software in place, it may be a bit unclear at first what tools to go with at first. For instance, as AI Marketing is making headway nowadays, it can’t always be the approachable or the right way, for that matter, to go about with your business. Obviously, it can be the closest to accurate data collection, however we need to think about staying in our financial lane as well.

Now, let’s have a look at a few omnichannel marketing software and platforms to consider that won’t shake the budget at the same time. So, here are a few that you can consider for your brand:

1. Perhaps it’s safe to say that the amount of data that Google Analytics has is infinite. There is so much data and information available that you can use, to improve the brand’s content, figure the right roadmaps with content and user experience.

2. SproutSocial is an all-in-one social media management platform that provides brands with the opportunity to track what customers are saying about them and have the opportunity to respond as well. With the help of this omnichannel marketing platform you can uncover trends and actionable insights from the social data that the customers use and are involved in.

3. Mention is another omnichannel marketing platform that can help brands track what the users are saying online.

4. Hootsuite, an online tracking platform for your omnichannel marketing solutions, that helps businesses connect with their customers by tracking various social media channels, determine what users say about the brand and respond accordingly.

5. If you want to improve your content marketing and SEO campaigns then BuzzSumo would be the right way to go. Brands can use it to determine what content performs well and who are the major influencers of the industry.

6. One of the important omnichannel marketing software that businesses can use to track site visitors and monitor where the visitors click on the webpage is CrazyEgg.

7. Another omnichannel marketing software that will help businesses with monitoring users online behavior is Hotjar.

8. If you want to understand who visits your website and how you can interact with them, then the omnichannel marketing software to go with would be LuckyOrange.

9. We can’t discuss omnichannel marketing software and platforms and not to mention SEMrush. This leading competitive research service for online marketing is the tool of the trade for businesses in basically any industry worldwide. The platform helps businesses with SEO, content marketing, competitor research, PPC and social media marketing.

Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Marketing

The time has come to ask ourselves another question: Are Multi-Channel Marketing and Omni Channel Marketing the Same Thing?

You may have come across the term “multi-channel marketing” which entails to distribute content and ads across various channels. The concept of both omnichannel and multi-channel are the same only in the matter of engaging consumers.

Although both focus on the use of multiple channels to reach consumers, multi-channel marketing and omnichannel marketing are completely different marketing strategies.

The functionality of each differs: through multi-channel solutions the brand becomes available to consumers online, in print, in-store, as it looks at the specific channels and the transaction will be completed in the latter. Omnichannel solution on the other hand, focuses on the consumer journey through multiple channels and determines the best experience to provide to the consumers.

Multi-channel marketing provides solid content and engagement: the choice of what content & what sort of content to be seen by the consumer is determined by the brand, however which sales funnel to approach is left to the choice of the consumer.

The channels of multi-channel marketing are:

  • Email
  • Direct mail
  • Social media
  • Events

These channels in turn are used to attract consumers through a predetermined strategy with the goal to efficiently and effortlessly communicate with consumers.

The omnichannel marketing meaning is a much broader concept in comparison to multi-channel marketing, but it depends on what state your business is currently in, in order to determine whether to proceed with one or the other. The case is that the strategies and protocols in place from the omnichannel marketing solutions will determine the strategies the brand needs to take with multi-channel marketing solutions to give the best and consistent experience with consumers.

Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Marketing: The Main Differences

For omnichannel marketing the consumer is in the center of it all and multi-channel marketing basically means many channels. The consumer is in the center no doubt, but it mostly focuses on what channels to get by. So, let’s have a look at key differences:

1. Channels

Multi-channel marketing: all the communication channels work separately with no connection to each other. You can grow your audience-reach through these multiple channels, however it doesn’t ensure transparency.

The multi-channel approach gets the message via any possible number of channels and acquires as big of an audience as possible.

Omnichannel marketing: all the communication channels work interchangeably and collectively together. It ties all touchpoints together and ensures transparency and consistency for the brand. It ensures an inter-relatable approach of every channel in order to engage with customers as a whole. This in turn, develops a stronger bond with the brand and the consumer.

2. Consistency

Multi-channel marketing: as multi-channel marketing reaches audiences with separate and different channels it cannot ensure any consistency and furthermore, can create friction and frustration with the customers due to the lack of integration.

Omnichannel marketing: ensures that consumers receive the same experience and messaging through each channel. A consistency in brand image and message will ensure a relevancy and familiarity with the consumer. This, in turn gives several advantages:

  • Customers trust your business
  • Customers become loyal
  • Customers become keen on referring friends and family to your brand

3. Advantages

It would be wrong to determine whether one stands with an advantage over the other as it’s specific to the brand, the industry they operate in and the type of products & services that the brand delivers. The key point here is to understand the difference, which, in turn, will determine which exactly would be the right marketing approach for you.

For instance, if your brand is focused on delivering the most personalized approach to each consumer then the multi-channel marketing approach would most certainly not work for you, as a certain level of personalization isn’t possible.

Without a doubt, multi-channel marketing does have its benefits, but it’s a matter of the brand’s perspectives. So, a few of the benefits worth mentioning, are:

- Bigger audience

Multi-channel marketing gives the opportunity to expand a further audience to reach potential customers as well.

- Engagement

The more channels there are the more engagement can be expected from the customers. As with prior data analysis and segmentation, you are now able to determine just which channel to engage that particular customer with.

- Mix’n’Match

With multiple channels at your disposal and a bulletproof strategy in place, brands can have the opportunity to mix N match with the variety of channels and deliver personalized messages.

Have you thought about mixing social media with television? Research shows that campaigns that have touchpoints with both Facebook and Television have a 12 point lift in brand recall.

Or perhaps go ahead with Radio and Television? Research shows that, if these two channels combined can increase brand recall by 35%.

4. Personalization

Multi-channel marketing: this approach sends out a message with a strong CTA to be taken from the consumer.

Omnichannel marketing: this approach also sends out a message with a strong CTA to be taken from the customer, however, in addition, it gathers data from the consumer's analysis and changes the strategies based on these feedbacks and in the end provides a better and personalized experience to the customers.

5. eCommerce

Multi-channel marketing: when it comes to eCommerce multi-channel marketing approach doesn’t give the same advantages to customers as the omnichannel does. It gives customers information and allows them to make purchases.

Omnichannel marketing: it leads to more purchases as customers use more than one channel, hence they spend more money. Omnichannel marketing encourages customers to use other channels. The presence of several channels ensures engagement, so the brand gets more clicks, more shares of posts on social media, etc.

Omnichannel Marketing Trends

Omnichannel marketing is becoming more and more popular as it helps brands and businesses maximize their consumer satisfaction. Companies with the right strategies in place reap several benefits including:

  • Maximized marketing ROI
  • Strong customer loyalty and referral
  • Increased revenue

Whether you have an approach implemented or are looking into it, it’s always best to check out the latest trends to see what’s new in the market. So, here are a few omnichannel marketing trends to be aware of:

1. Customers’ perspectives

Before communicating and offering anything to your customers, it’s always best to test out and go through the roadmap that your to-be-targeted customer will go through. It might seem a bit time-consuming or resource-consuming for that matter, but think about how beneficial, “bug-free” and seamless the experience will later be for your customers. You can consider doing a few tests, beta-tests, if you will:

  • Place orders
  • Make payment
  • Interact with available channels
  • Ask questions and feedback

2. Increased functionality

Providing the customers with an omnichannel marketing approach entails that the customer has the flexibility to go back and forth within the channels. So, for instance, if an item is selected and added to Cart via desktop, the same cart in the same status should be there when opened via the mobile app. Ensuring continuity and seamlessness ensures the consistency and loyalty of customers. Giving ease of use and hassle-free activities is the goal that brands should strive for.

Also, don’t underestimate the need of a nudge; sending out reminder emails about the items in the cart and encouraging them to take action, can be state-changing. Especially since most customers are like me; I already have 3 items in my Amazon cart that I know I won’t need for another 4 months, l could add it to my wishlist and be done with, but no, it’s saved in my cart. So, I guess what I'm trying to say, that if Amazon had a nudge- feature that would send me occasional emails with a clear CTA in the mail body, I kind of have a feeling that I would have caved already. For some brands extra features and functionality may seem an expensive case to go with at first, but in the long or short-run it will pay for itself.

3. Segmentation

While segmentation can be considered a trend, I don’t fully agree with this concept. Segmentation is of utmost importance for any brand to ensure that in the later stage revenues increase, the customer number doubles, and customer satisfaction grows. Some trends may come and go with the given year, or new marketing approaches, but segmentation will always be static and earn its place in the planning processes. So, my advice; treat it as a tool, not a trend.

4. Diversity of Devices

Nowadays, most people don’t refrain with just one device that they use. There are so many options, that most of us use laptops, tablets, smart watches, and smartphones on a day-to-day basis and all at the same time.

This notion relates to customers as well, who will take different platforms throughout the purchase journey. I, myself, on many occasions, select items and add to cart via a mobile app, and then later in the evening or on the weekends take my time and complete the roadmap via the laptop.

Therefore having mobile versions of your product or service or website is an important factor to have. Cross-device interactions may be a hassle for a brand, especially a start-up one, but it’s the ultimate goal to deliver to customers as the existence of this trend does have a major impact on conversion rates and popularity.

Omnichannel Marketing Statistics

If you’re not fully convinced that this approach is the right for your business, here a few omnichannel marketing statistics that will make you give it a second thought:

  • Customers that interact with an omnichannel experience, spend 4% more time in-store and 10% more online. (Harward Business Review)
  • Companies with omnichannel retail strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers from channel to channel. (Harward Business Review)
  • 86% of shoppers regularly channel-hop across two channels. (Harward Business Review)
  • 87% of retailers recognize that having an omnichannel marketing strategy is crucial for their business. (Harward Business Review)
  • Marketers using three or more channels in any one campaign earned a 287% higher purchase rate than those using a single-channel campaign. (Omnisend)
  • Companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement experience a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, compared to 3.4% for weak omnichannel companies. Similarly, strong omnichannel companies see a 7.5% year-over-year decrease in cost per contact, compared to a 0.2% year-over-year decrease for weak companies. (Digital Commerce 360)
  • 50% of shoppers expect that they will be able to make a purchase online and pick up in-store. (Business 2 Community)
  • 39% of consumers are unlikely or very unlikely to visit a retailer’s store if the online store does not provide physical store inventory information. (Business 2 Community)
  • 56% of consumers have used their mobile device to research products at home with 38% having used their mobile device to check inventory availability while on their way to a store and 34% who have used their mobile device to research products while in a store. (Business 2 Community)
  • Marketers using three channels or more in their omnichannel campaigns earned 18.96% engagement, compared to marketers using single-channel campaigns who only received 5.4%. (Omnisend)
  • 88% of retailers cited that enabling ship-from-store had improved or significantly improved their customer satisfaction metrics. (Business 2 Community)
  • 71% of consumers cited the ability to view online inventory information for in-store products as important or very important. (Business 2 Community)

Omnichannel Marketing Automation

Enhancing your customers’ experience through omnichannel marketing strategies is one thing, but we must also consider how to set these strategies in motion, so the brand gets every ounce of it with efficiency & effect. That’s where omnichannel marketing automation comes in. It helps you:

  • Identify the channels that customers most frequently use
  • Choose the right tools to your needs
  • Provide an open-door policy for your customers

Marketing automation tools help brands offer seamless experience and customer consistency on various stages of the customer journey. They also help brands with:

  • Segmentation of targeted audience
  • Plan ahead for each step
  • Personalize communication
  • Save time
  • Strengthen customer engagement

Undoubtedly, it’s a complex process as you would need to select the right message for each channel: an email message will have a different context from that of Facebook, all the while being in alignment with the omnichannel marketing strategy.

It’s not just about making the customer journey seamless and effective, but also for the brand. That’s why marketing automation comes in so handy as it helps you automate omnichannel processes:

  • Target customers at the scheduled time
  • Send out welcome emails
  • Send out push notifications
  • Target different channels
  • Reduce time and effort

Let’s have a look at the key phases that the brand should consider using automation for:

Onboarding

Greeting new customers and making them welcome is the basis for building a long-lasting relationship. With the right strategies in place, all you are left to do with is schedule a nice welcome email as soon as the customer first creates an account/or downloads an app: whatever transaction that tells you that the customer provided you with their email address and is interested in proceeding to the next step.

Engagement

Now, this part may be a handful. Smartphone users usually use an average of 9 apps each day and 30 apps every month. In order to keep users engaged you need to think innovative ways, but whatever the case may be- whether a new discount, a new referral program or an incentive- it would still be beneficial for you to automate such incentives and spend the rest of the time analyzing customer behavior, so for when the time comes you will be able to make the right adjustments to your strategy.

Reminders are one of the key elements in keeping engagement: whether it’s a subscription or a cart-checkout reminder, you remind the customer about yourself. It doesn’t mean that you should overdo it, so the customer gets frustrated with you and just cancels altogether, but it’s important to keep the conversation going. And, that’s what loyalty programs are there for! Brands can maximize engagement through all the available channels with omnichannel marketing automation tools with minimum operational effort and resources.

Omnichannel marketing automation helps businesses with:

  • Create a strategy from initial touchpoint
  • Welcome notifications
  • Loyalty & referral programs
  • Email, text & social media campaigns

Conversions

As you segment users based on their preferences and send out the right messages, it can be a huge tipping point for the latter to make a purchase. Here are basic tips that will tip the scale:

  • Send personalized emails/messages for “thank yous” and new timer welcomes
  • New product updates
  • Discounts and incentives
  • Push notifications
  • Birthday congratulations

The automation process helps segment and personalize strategies for each phase of the journey and determine separate content, furthermore breakdown to separate schedules and define when each segment needs to be delivered.

But let’s not forget about the biggest advantage that the brand reaps from automation as well: the time and work-load that automation saves on manual tasks and constant deployments, is unfathomable.

Conclusion

I’m wondering what the biggest takeaway would be, and that’s perhaps that since we live in a hyperconnected world, so does the consumer. It’s the job of every brand, business, and company to deliver a seamless and consistent shopping experience throughout the journey of the customer. Think outside the box, remember that the ultimate goal is to transform the consumer to a buyer, and from that milestone on- a loyal one.

So, invest in your omnichannel marketing solutions which will surely invest back in you.

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