Consumers want to be marketed to both online and offline. The CMO Council recently reported that over 85 percent of global consumers surveyed prefer a mix of digital and physical channel experiences when interacting with brands.
Yet successful marketing isn’t just about being active on multiple platforms and channels. It’s about providing an integrated, seamless experience across channels, enabling prospects to communicate and learn about your brand online, through social media, on their phones, and in person.
One way of providing this experience is by implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy. Omnichannel marketing takes place when brands leverage multiple channels — physical and digital — to interact with prospects during the customer journey.
There are a lot of things you need to know about omnichannel marketing, but here we’ll discuss its potential benefits to your business and how to create your own strategy.
Omnichannel marketing vs. multichannel marketing
Before we get started, let’s go over the difference between multichannel marketing and omnichannel marketing.
Multichannel marketing is when a brand interacts with customers through direct and indirect communication channels such as brick and mortar stores, catalogs, emails, mobile apps, SMS messaging, and other channels.
Omnichannel marketing takes this a step further. It’s about leveraging multiple channels to communicate with prospects and respond to them throughout one unified customer journey.
These multiple channels include (but are not limited to) the following:
- paid and organic search
- social networks
- email newsletters
- referral sites
- custom campaigns (online and offline channels) that sent traffic to your site.
- phone, including SMS
- printed mail
An omnichannel strategy paves the way for prospects to seamlessly interact with multiple channels while updating their data throughout the process.
This means a customer may inquire about a product by sending a direct message on Instagram. If they make another inquiry through email or mobile app, the business should be able to aggregate the prospects’ data and conversations so the discussion will continue on whichever channel they use.
An omnichannel approach also considers the medium before the message. What works on Twitter won’t work in an email, for example, and it’s not just because of character limits. The attention spans and the user intent of each platform are different: Twitter prioritizes shorter copy and prominent visuals while email is reserved for in-depth, more personalized communication.
For example, Delta Air Lines’ Twitter account features its services as well as relatable experiences for travelers.
In contrast, their emails have detailed information about their offers and benefits.
Why an omnichannel approach works for businesses
Marketing in multiple channels can boost repeat purchases and retention rates in the long run.
Harvard Business Review conducted a mass survey of 46,000 shoppers and found that consumers who used more than four channels spent nine percent more in the store as compared to those who only used a single channel. Over six months, they made 23 percent more shopping trips to physical stores and promoted the brand through word-of-mouth to family and friends.
Most studies have found that consumers use mobile while browsing in-store too.
Seven out of ten mobile device users in the United States occasionally used apps while they were browsing in-store. As a result, 65 percent of marketers use two or more media channels in their marketing campaigns while 44 percent of marketers use three or more.
These numbers show that businesses can differentiate themselves by integrating digital channels to improve their prospects’ experience in their brick-and-mortar stores.
Tips for omnichannel retailing
Here are some expert tips to help you create your own omnichannel marketing strategy:
Be consistent in branding
When using multiple channels, consistency in branding is key.
Prospects will judge your channels based on their design and the reliability of their user experiences. Can people easily recognize your ads based on logo and colors? Is every platform updated and active?
Imagine that a prospect loves your posts on social media. They end up on your mobile website, but it has an entirely different look and vibe. Chances are they’ll question the credibility of your business.
Users evaluate all of your digital channels to form an impression of your brand. That’s why your logo, colors, design, tone, and content marketing need to be aligned.
For example, Glossier has consistently used pastel pink as their brand’s main color. As a result, their Instagram posts are instantly recognizable to their audience.
Their identity is also consistent on their website. Like their social media pages, it embraces a minimalist style and uses colors that are on-brand.
Implement customer-centric experiences
Omnichannel marketing experiences must be customer-centric.
This is why you need to discover the main channels that drive engagement and conversions.
You can use Google’s multi-channel funnels report to find the sequences of interactions (i.e., clicks/referral sites) that led up to each conversion and sale. This will let you determine how people research your products, interact with your ads, and the type of content that they interact with.
Once you find the answers, modify your platforms based on customer data.
You can even aggregate conversations with leads from email, messaging apps, and social media. This will make it easier for your customer support agents to solve issues and boost customer success.
For example, Bank of America implements an omnichannel customer-centric experience through its desktop and mobile apps.
There’s no need to go to a bank to make financial transactions. Users can manage their bank accounts, transfer money, and make mobile check deposits anytime and anywhere thanks to the app. If they have any questions, they can contact Erica—the bank’s virtual financial assistant—for helpful insights and financial guidance.
Users can also open a checking account, find the nearest ATM, and schedule appointments through their website.
By launching its own app and website, Bank of America is able to provide fast and convenient financial transactions. Users can also seek virtual assistants for guidance during their transactions.
Use digital channels to improve retail store experiences
Use technology to improve brick-and-mortar store shopping. This way, you continue a branded experience that began in online channels.
The Remote Payments Study by PYMNTS surveyed 2,300 American consumers and discovered the smartphones’ rising role in traditional retail. The researchers found that about half (48 percent) of consumers used smartphones while shopping in stores. Of this number, some (46.8 percent) use them to find in-app discounts, while others (43.3 percent) used them to research product information.
Burberry—a luxury brand—has even collaborated with Apple to create messaging systems for their high-end clients.
They developed R Message which lets users have real-time online conversations with store assistants, book in-store appointments, and make online purchases through Apple Pay. Staff in physical stores will be able to monitor their prospects’ shopping behavior and remember birthdays, providing personalization.
Be proactive on chosen platforms
Your brand doesn’t need to be active in every digital marketing channel, but you need to establish a consistent experience on the platforms that you do choose.
Make it easy for prospects to move across the buyer’s journey. Let social media users message customer service on Twitter or Facebook. Potential leads who regularly read your newsletters should be able to access your mobile site and switch channels instantly.
For example, Marriott highlights destinations near their hotel on Instagram to engage with their audience.
Prospects interested in booking a hotel can also download the mobile app to book their stay, receive spa treatments, and order room service.
Travelers on a budget can check out a plethora of Marriott products through the Marriott Bonvoy Benefits loyalty program. Guests can create personal profiles and earn points by staying at the company’s hotels. They can receive customized offers to hotels, VIP experiences, tours, and flight offers based on their profile.
By sending personalized offers through their mobile app and loyalty program, prospects are aware of the Marriott experiences that can enhance their vacation.
Getting started with omnichannel marketing
Omnichannel marketing is about marketing and communicating with your leads across different channels.
To succeed, understand the communication channels prospects use to interact with your brand. Present consistent designs and build responsive site experiences. You should also use technology to improve both in-store and online buying experiences.
How will you create omnichannel experiences to impress your leads? Let us know in the comments below, and take a look at our ebooks and whitepapers for more help with all things customer service, sales, and support.