The Ins and Outs of Omnichannel Marketing

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on March 9, 2022

There are more ways to do things than ever before in today’s world. That includes online channels that make it easy to interact with businesses. At the same time, customer expectations have changed, especially in regards to real-time information and constant engagement.

Omnichannel marketing allows brands to meet those expectations. Not only does it enable customers to engage with a brand however they want, but it provides a positive experience that comes with many benefits. Keep reading to learn more about omnichannel marketing and how much it can bring to any company.

What Is Omnichannel Marketing?

If you are unfamiliar with omnichannel marketing, it can be a rather complex topic to get a handle on. The reason for the complexity is the scope, which covers every step of a customer’s journey. It is an approach that connects all of the dots, from the first touchpoint to the last. And it is something customers have come to expect.

Customers expect brands to be available constantly, whether online or off, through social media, stores, and all of their devices. They also expect those experiences to offer everything they want. Some of what customers want when interacting with a brand:

  • Interactions should reflect their preferences, regardless of the channel
  • The preferences and information they seek should be up-to-date
  • Each channel should be seamlessly connected

There is more to omnichannel marketing than that, but the basics are simple: a cohesive experience. A customer should be able to find out about something on social media, look for it online to see if it is in stock, then buy it online or be capable of going to a physical store to pick it up. And that is only one of many journeys possible.

Omnichannel marketing is all about presenting a unified experience on all devices and channels. It presents a brand consistently. And by following and providing for customers throughout their journey, it increases satisfaction and retention on top of everything else. It even ensures that brands do not put all of their eggs in an oversaturated market.

Omnichannel Versus Multichannel Marketing

Before delving into an in-depth discussion of omnichannel marketing, it is important to make one distinction very clear. Omnichannel marketing and multichannel marketing are not the same thing. Some use the terms interchangeably, but there are some key differences.

In a sense, it is not wrong to call omnichannel marketing a kind of multichannel marketing. After all, it utilizes multiple channels to get a message out. However, that is about the extent of their similarities. You can think of the two forms of marketing like this:

  • Multichannel Marketing: The goal is touchpoints. Multichannel marketing is about getting a message out in as many ways and to as many people as possible. Moreover, it does not require coordination or real-time adjustment.
  • Omnichannel Marketing: The focus is on the experience. It relies on understanding the path that a customer takes on their journey to making a purchase. More importantly, it is about ways to connect the channels and improve the journey to give customers a positive experience throughout.

There are other aspects of comparison that make the difference clear. Multichannel marketing provides a static message that centers around the brand. The goal is to build engagement, and it does not require any communication between the different channels.

Omnichannel marketing, as mentioned, centers around the customer. Its focus is consistency and the unified experience. Moreover, the message needs to adapt and change as customers interact with the brand. It also needs the different channels to exchange data and constantly communicate to stay up-to-date.

The Importance of Omnichannel Marketing

An effective omnichannel marketing strategy offers a number of benefits, especially after the rapid digitalization that occurred due to the pandemic. Through personalization and unification across channels, brands can expect a lot of gains, including:

  • An increase in trust due to consistency
  • Stronger customer-brand relationships
  • Greater customer conversion rates
  • A larger customer base due to reaching a greater audience
  • Increased customer retention that far exceeds single-channel marketing

The focus on the connection between channels is especially important when you consider sales and revenue. It is quite common now for people to view items online before purchasing them in a store, or vice versa. Moreover, those who use a combination of devices and channels to make purchases usually spend more.

Additional benefits of omnichannel marketing include easier audience segmentation and targeting and increased return on investment (ROI). After all, understanding the customer journey gives a clear image of the entire process. It informs you about your audience and where they are dropping off during the journey.

Attribution Accuracy

Although touchpoints are not the primary focus of omnichannel marketing, they are still important. After all, knowing which touchpoint is responsible for conversion gives a clearer picture of what is working. Outside of omnichannel marketing, marketers rely on things like multi-touch attribution (MTA) and media mix modeling (MMM).

MTA offers person-level data across each of the touchpoints involved, which can help adjust a campaign. But it does not do a good job at determining which touchpoint is responsible for a conversion. On the other hand, MMM relies on long-term data, so it lacks customer insights. It does speak toward attribution, but not in real-time.

Omnichannel marketing eliminates the need for such limited methods. Instead, omnichannel marketing gives in-depth data on attribution and the customers through the buyer journey.

Key Steps to Successful Omnichannel Marketing Campaigns

Omnichannel marketing brings various benefits. However, it also requires more effort than most other approaches. Unlike single-channel or multichannel marketing, it demands significant time and financial investment toward understanding customers and setting up proper communication between channels.

But the omnichannel approach is always worth pursuing. In fact, it has become a near necessity in today’s market, where customer expectations are higher than ever. And knowing your customers is a must to deliver on those expectations, which is where the customer journey comes into play.

Map the Customer Journey

The customer journey is front and center when it comes to omnichannel marketing. It is actually mapping the journey that helps you figure out everything else. That is why it is so important to gain a deep understanding. Here is a basic breakdown of the steps to consider when mapping the customer journey:

  • The initial discovery of the brand or product
  • Their research and consideration before taking action
  • The many possible paths customers take to the purchase
  • The purchase and what happens after

The vague overview does little to detail just how complex a customer journey can be. However, more important than what journey they take is how simple it is. Because no matter how they choose to get there, customers expect a smooth experience.

Customers want simplicity, even when their journey involves something like starting on social media, moving to your website, and finally buying in a store. They are even willing to pay for it, accepting premium prices for convenience and a positive experience.

It is important to be thorough when mapping the customer journey. Do not stop mapping when a customer purchases an item. Instead, figure out the best way to nurture the relationship. It is also worth paying attention to when you can best step in and take action during the journey.

Unify All Communication

The unification of every group and channel within a company is vital to success. A good measure is to take the time to identify all communication between any parts of the company and customers. The next step is to ensure it all works together to present a cohesive brand experience.

It is not just about the channels and the message presented, though. It needs to permeate every element, from the overarching campaign to having employees with proper training on how it all works. After all, even if the marketing campaign is properly in place, things might not come together without knowledgeable staff.

Moreover, breaking down the walls internally and ensuring everyone is on the same page improves the customer experience. Considering customer experience is a major goal of omnichannel marketing, it is a valuable step in the process.

Keep Everything Up-to-Date

Part of providing a positive customer experience is ensuring that what they find on every channel is accurate. For instance, you do not want a customer seeing a deal in an email or online that is not available in their local store. You also do not want inaccurate inventory shown online compared to what is available in stores.

In fact, if a customer is searching online for a product and planning to pick it up in person, it is likely urgent. Therefore, having them go through the entire process to place an order only to find out it is out of stock afterward is unacceptable.

Focus On Audience Data

The customer journey already proves the value of knowing your customers. Audience data is equally important, especially if you want to design an omnichannel experience suitable for everyone. One useful tool for this is a buyer persona. Buyer personas are profiles of potential customers that are built using details like:

  • Buying Behavior
  • Demographics
  • Surveys

Surveys can gather a lot of information, especially about how and why customers make purchases. Additionally, while data is becoming more difficult to gather, people are willing to offer more data for a simple, personalized experience. Do not overlook anything when it comes to data. It can all be useful.

It is also worth mentioning that making assumptions is a bad practice when it comes to customers. While you might have a certain target audience in mind, it might not be who is actually making purchases.

At the same time, segmenting your audience is highly effective. There are many ways to divide an audience, and it is different for every campaign. However, regardless of how it is done, it helps you understand the different paths that customers take when making a purchase. It is also a great tool for figuring out what is working or not working and why.

Centralize and Automate

Customer relationship management tools help keep everything in one place. Putting all of the audience data collected into a single platform where it can be accessed easily is ideal. Moreover, having your data and customer base on a single platform is an even more effective measure, regardless of what you are trying to accomplish.

Additionally, the use of automation can bring more results with less effort. There is a lot of automation software out there, too. You can automate email marketing, lead management, advertising, and more. Everything will run far more smoothly after centralizing and automating certain aspects of your process.

Utilize Personalization

Customers appreciate personalization. In fact, they expect it now, and they are willing to give out more information to receive that level of attention. Therefore, it is a good place to step in and boost customer satisfaction. When personalizing the experience, make sure to consider various parts of a customer’s past behavior, including:

  • What they bought
  • The channels they utilized
  • Their overall path

Essentially, ensure that you understand how they interacted with the company and why. Then, use that data to tailor the experience to the customer. After all, no two customers are the same, which is why they should be treated that way.

Test and Refine

There are many ways to test what works and what does not. For example, you can utilize A/B testing, sending out two versions of the same thing and seeing how people respond. Not only will it give you valuable information, but showing customers that you listen to their feedback is valuable.

It is also helpful to have first-hand knowledge of what a customer goes through. That is why taking on the role of each segment of your audience and testing the experience is highly useful. It can let you know the actual experience and help you adjust accordingly to keep everything consistent and pleasant across the board.

Examples of Omnichannel Marketing

Many companies have seen great success with omnichannel marketing. A few examples have been included below to make it a little clearer on what constitutes omnichannel marketing. The companies included are Disney, Starbucks, and Netflix, all of whom utilize the concepts above brilliantly.

Disney

Few companies do omnichannel marketing as successfully as Disney, which is even more impressive considering how massive the company truly is. Moreover, it all starts with their responsive, mobile-first approach that makes everything they do work on any device.

With Disney, you can begin your trip on their website with whatever device you want to use. Then, you can use the app to get real-time data about things like wait times while in the park. They even have wristbands that allow visitors to do all kinds of things at the park, including getting into their hotel room, ordering food, and navigating the park.

Disney truly takes omnichannel marketing to the extreme by offering a seamless experience. From start to finish and everywhere in-between, Disney makes it effortless.

Starbucks

Starbucks is a case where a single app seems to pull everything together. Of course, there is more to it than that, but they managed to pull everything into a unified experience that definitely showcases omnichannel marketing.

Using their mobile app, customers can make purchases and earn rewards. Moreover, they can put money on their Starbucks card using the app, their website, or by going to a brick-and-mortar store. It all comes together, allowing customers to do whatever they want from wherever they want.

Additionally, by ordering through the app, they can simply walk in and pick their coffee up without any need to wait in line or stop to pay. It is all taken care of smoothly and easily, making for a very positive customer experience. While Starbucks might not be the only business to create a similar app, it certainly did it well.

Netflix

Netflix offers a lot of things, with the first being personalization. The company offers users an incredibly personal experience, adjusting recommendations based on what they enjoy.

What is just as impressive about Netflix’s approach is that they make it consistent across devices. You can enjoy it on a computer, TV, phone, tablet, and wherever else it is available. Although not as complex a setup as many companies might require, the way Netflix does things is impressive.

Omnichannel Trends

There are many trends in omnichannel marketing, such as the integration of in-store and online experiences. Moreover, the brand has become the focus, along with providing more devices for a single purchase. Some of the other trends that are appearing in 2022 include:

  • More digital brands obtaining physical locations
  • Brand representatives and sales associates in virtual shopping
  • Showrooming, where people see items in a store to then purchase online
  • Touchless and contactless transactions
  • Social selling using videos

As it becomes more common to connect the physical and digital world, they start to blend into one another. People also want them to be equal experiences, where they can potentially see items in reality or speak to a knowledgeable sales clerk before making an online purchase.

Trending Channels

In addition to the trends above, there are also channels that are becoming more prevalent. For instance, chatbots have become incredibly popular with the improvement of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. They are fantastic for customer service, even having the ability to help customers make a purchase or booking.

Other trending channels include push notifications and SMS messages. One reason these channels are so effective is that people check their phones often. They also have them when they are on the go.

Two more channels that are on the rise are visual searches and augmented reality. Using these channels, customers get to interact with things in a new way. Imagine using a visual search to search online for a piece of furniture you thought was interesting, then using augmented reality to see what it looks like in your house.

Final Thoughts

Is it worth it? That might be the question you ask after reading all of this. The answer is yes. Omnichannel marketing is incredibly effective, and the return on investment is high. Moreover, it brings in more business while improving the customer experience, making it a worthwhile pursuit for anyone looking to grow their business.

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By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Spencer Hulse is a news desk editor at Grit Daily News. He covers startups, affiliate, viral, and marketing news.

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