Omnichannel marketing today is more than just a buzzword. Brands across the spectrum are leveraging wide-ranging benefits from this holistic marketing strategy.
A study by Emarsys claims that “Companies who have deployed a well-defined omnichannel customer experience strategy have achieved up to 91 percent higher year-on-year increase in customer retention, in comparison to organizations who don’t incorporate an omnichannel strategy.”
Clearly, omnichannel strategy is a winning combination – capable of endearing customers and boosting a company’s bottom line. But what does an omnichannel experience truly entail?
Omnichannel marketing is a ‘multichannel’ sales strategy whose end-goal is to offer customers seamless shopping experience across online and offline platforms such as desktop, mobile apps, websites, in-store, among others.
Oftentimes, the terms ‘omnichannel’ and ‘multichannel’ are used interchangeably, and wrongly so. Fundamentally, they’re very different from each other (as you’ll see below). Here are the key differences between these two marketing routes:
Omnichannel Marketing Vs. Multichannel Marketing: A Comparison
|Omnichannel Marketing||Multichannel Marketing|
|Customer-Centricity||Focuses on the needs and preferences of the customer, where they can access personalized information in a seamless, unified multi-channel experience.||Focuses on the different products/services the company is offering or on the brand’s core message. Customers access information from varying channels (print ad, retail location, website, promotional event, etc.) that don’t necessarily work in unison. Each channel runs separately to interact with potential customers.|
|Consistency||There’s great consistency between the channels as all of them are inter-connected. In short, the messages that the customers see automatically get updated – regardless of the channel the customer is using to connect with the brand.||The channels lack consistency in terms of branding, aesthetics, and operations, as every channel works in a silo.|
|Personalization||Personalization is key as the end-goal is to offer a hyper-customized customer experience by gathering as much insight, data, and knowledge about the user.||Personalization is not an integral element; company strategy is, as the end-goal is to simply communicate the company-centric message/idea to the users and ensure that they complete a call-to-action.|
Essential Features of an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy
1. Audience Segmentation
Audience segmentation is to omnichannel marketing what compartments are to your closet – absolutely essential. If you don’t spend time understanding and segmenting your audience accurately, you run the risk of targeting them blindly. Plus, by truly understanding what your target audience looks like, you can think of ways to bring real value to the table, or, in this case, the channels.
Here are different ways to collect data and gauge your audience’ likes, preferences, habits, etc. in a value-driven manner:
- Surveys and polls such as SoGoSurvey: Surveys and polls have been used since time immemorial to get a pulse of the customer’s feedback and truly understand their pain-points. You could distribute these surveys on phones, via emails, or even include it post-purchase on your website.
- Chatbots: Chatbots are every company’s best friend today, and for good reason. They allow the company to be present for the customer 24×7. They offer instant and effective solutions to queries and enable customers to self-serve, saving precious time for everyone involved.
- Social media profiles: Since nearly 25% of the world’s population is present on Facebook – it helps to study your customer’s social media profiles to better understand what makes them tick. However, there’s a fine line between being curious and being creepy, so make sure that you – as a brand – are always counted in the former category and not the latter one!
- Channels to use: Another important factor when segmenting your audience is understanding which channels to use. You can leverage the advantages of a monitoring tool to track keywords that your user base uses most in order to find your product/service.
2. Cross-Device Marketing
“Over a third of online purchases span multiple devices.”
Believe it or not, most customers today begin their shopping experience on one device and complete their buying journey on an entirely different channel.
It is fair to assume that a plethora of devices are bridging the distance between digital and offline channels. And this is precisely why companies need to embrace cross-device marketing in its full glory. That’s not all. Additional research claims that “Buyers who use multiple channels to shop deliver a higher lifetime value than those that use just one.”
So whether it’s delivering a mobile-optimized customer experience or empowering customers to shop in-store, providing consistent marketing across devices is key. In fact, data by Deloitte claims that “Over half (56%) of all brick-and-mortar transactions are preceded by digital engagement.”
Key takeaway: The lines between digital and offline are definitely blurring with every device that gets introduced into the buyer’s journey.
3. Ubiquitous Marketing: Be Available Everywhere
The logic is simple. You need to be present where your customers are. The ‘digitally-smart’ customers of today don’t shy away from connecting with a brand through multiple channels and across platforms.
Say your customer logs onto your website to browse the products. Then, he/she downloads the app to avail a coupon and adds products to the cart. Now, they realize that they have a query related to your product, so they post their question on one of your social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, etc. After a couple of exchanges on mail, they finally purchase the product in-store. That’s how dynamic (and unpredictable) customer shopping has become today.
Long story short, you need to be available everywhere where your customers are and extend stellar customer support to ensure seamless service. This is where intuitive tools like Acquire can lend a helping hand. By offering holistic integration capabilities, your brand can literally reach out to customers all at once with unparalleled levels of consistency and commitment.
4. Marketing Automation Tools
For persistent and consistent customer nurturing, marketing automation is the need of the hour. Your omnichannel marketing strategy should leverage the benefits of insight-driven cross-channel data and automated tools that allow companies to attract the right customers and make the experience memorable.
That said, analyzing shoppers across devices, combining online and offline profiles, and integrating the data to the right media can become a Herculean task. This is where marketing automation tools work their charm. What’s more, these tools can boost traffic and create more leads by making the best use of optimized content – a specialty of marketing automation.
How Omnichannel Marketing Affects Customer Experience
In this section, we will look at how beauty giant, Sephora has aced its omnichannel marketing efforts to become an inspiration for many aspiring brands:
- First off, the brand’s in-store experience is wildly supported by technology which allows for a truly digital and on-demand experience:
- Then, the brand’s app uses geo-location-based marketing to send relevant information such as store maps and deals as soon as the user enters the shop. Here’s a snapshot of the brand’s “store companion” feature on the app that’s triggered when a user enters a Sephora location which offers useful information such as:
- Sephora’s mobile app Virtual Artist is another history-making entity. You can think of it as a virtual assistant for all things beauty-related such as information about new products, makeup video tutorials, how-to videos, etc.:
Sephora’s use case clearly demonstrates that delivering an omninchannel customer experience trumps everything and can emerge as the true differentiator between a ‘good’ customer experience and an ‘exceptional’ one.
The Verdict: To Omnichannel or To Multi-Channel?
“Customer experience will take over both price and product by 2020.”
The era of personalized, integrated, and pull-based marketing is upon us. Customers no longer wish to interact with brands that appeal to mass audiences, complete with aggressive and push-based advertising that don’t work in a seamless capacity.
Here’s our two cents: Whether you’re a small company or a global enterprise, opt for an omnichannel approach along every touchpoint in your customer’s journey. The customers love it. The brands need it. The competition demands it.
In short, being singularly “customer-obsessed” is the name of the game. Are you pumped?