While marketing is a term that is quite familiar to a lot of business owners, omnichannel marketing might lead to quite a few furrowed brows. Now more than ever, marketing is a crucial part of business strategies, especially as businesses have become more reliant on multiple platforms. With much of the physical advertising or in-store environments largely inaccessible, companies now have to take on creating brand awareness and identity beyond what people see or experience in the real world. Today, experiences are mostly intangible, and they mostly take place online as people struggle to stay connected.
With much of the physical advertising or in-store environments largely inaccessible, companies now have to take on creating brand awareness and identity beyond what people see or experience in the real world. Today, experiences are mostly intangible, and they mostly take place online as people struggle to stay connected.
Just about everything is done online these days, even before the days of the pandemic. But now, with a world mostly kept indoors, the e-commerce world has boomed. Brick and mortar companies have seen massive shutdowns due to a lack of foot traffic, while others have leaped onto online platforms to continue business as usual. They put up their e-commerce websites, got on social media, and began the challenge of marketing their business in the ether.
But now the companies and businesses face a whole new challenge. Digital marketing has been the bread-and-butter for a lot of the companies that have gotten ahead. They have seized the moment and have been making great strides even before the pandemic. They appear in numerous platforms and utilize the latest analytics tools to track customers. Now that that the field has become even more competitive, what is the next step to get the edge? The answer: Omnichannel marketing.
What’s Omnichannel Marketing?
It’s one thing to curate a culture or a brand online. It’s another thing to make it all-around customer experience, surpassing platforms, and presence. From online browsing to delivery, omnichannel marketing is poised to give businesses online and offline the real edge on making their mark known to customers. It’s never been a more crucial time to embrace this type of marketing, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic has wholly transformed how the world works on a global scale.
Omnichannel marketing simply utilizes a combination of all the technologies that we have grown accustomed to all around us. It’s not just about physical and digital anymore. Sometimes, the lines between them blur as we discover more smart gadgets and use technology in everyday convenience. Omnichannel marketing is defined as a multi-channel sales approach. It transforms the way customers are marketed to, sold to, and served.
Regardless of where a customer may be making the purchase (this could be at the physical store, online, or via phone call), it would be as seamless as it would in any other platform. The process is so integrated that it blends into a unique brand culture.
The Omnichannel Difference
It’s not enough to just rely on digital transformation anymore. With many companies already reaching for this option, the real edge becomes being able to centralize the online and offline channels. Remember: omnichannel experiences will make use of different channels, but not all multi-channel experiences are omnichannel. Omnichannel experiences create that seamless experience through email, SMS, chatbot, push notifications, call center, and the brick and mortar. It heightens digital communication, grows business, and answers the customers’ ever-changing demands regardless of the environment.
And in an uncertain pandemic-hit world, it’s essential.
What Makes Up Omnichannel Marketing?
When a customer scrolls through Facebook, they might see a product or service in an ad. After clicking it, they head to a landing page that showcases the item, reviews, and ratings. But even after adding it to the cart, the customer isn’t quite sure just yet.
Maybe they forget to look at it for a few days. Then, an email from the company prompts them to remember that they have a purchase waiting in their cart. There might even be a discount or free shipping, especially for first-time buyers. With an offer so promising, the customer finally completes the purchase. Following this purchase, the customer then continues to see ads from the company that is similar or related to the purchase or other items they might have looked at on the shopping page.
This is how omnichannel marketing works; it integrates a company and its products to everyday conveniences that a customer uses every day. To create a cohesive omnichannel marketing experience, a company needs to establish all the necessary components.
First, the company needs to identify where their audiences are. Using analytics and combining online and offline data, the company can pinpoint who they should focus on and what platforms they frequent. Once identified, the company then must increase its marketing presence there.
To ensure that there’s a seamless experience, the branding, the tone, and the environment must remain consistent throughout all platforms. Regardless of whether the customer is shopping online through a browser or mobile, or in a physical store, the experience and processes should be the same. Everything from a company’s presence to communication must remain the same, and operating like clockwork with one another.
People pay attention when something interests them, particularly if it’s tailored uniquely for them. Using software or tools to personalize the experience for them makes customers feel that it’s a service that is genuinely relevant to them and their needs. By reaching out to a customer at the right moment, the company can strike gold.
Companies must continually gather data and analyze the metrics of all their processes. They must find which tactics work and optimize it further, dropping non-responsive or low-engagement endeavors along the way. Adaptation and optimization are constant in omnichannel marketing.
Put It To Work: Making Your Own Omnichannel Marketing Strategy
The terminologies sound intimidating, but the core of the process is not as complicated as it might initially appear.
- Put the customer first – It’s not about promoting the company anymore. The center of every marketing strategy must put the customer and their experience first. Change the buyer’s perception of the purchase journey.
- Know your customers well – By thoroughly understanding customers, a company can create multiple “customer personas” that they can target and build strategies around. Uncover the pain points and how the company can address them. This requires thorough data gathering from teams.
- Have the right tools at hand – Once all the information and customer characteristics are at hand, it’s time to use tools that work well for omnichannel marketing. Content management systems, marketing automation, content marketing tools, SEO tools, customer relationship management software, and social media management tools must be employed.
- Break the target audience down to chunks – Put the understanding of customers to good use. Look at what audiences are interested in what they’re not. Are customers willing to subscribe? What about those who don’t? Create subgroups.
- Personalize the experience – If a specific base seems to be interested in a particular item, market it to them a little more. Are subscriptions running out? Focus on the ones whose subscriptions need renewal and urge them to extend through promos or discounts.
- Stay on top of things – To remain consistent, it’s crucial to adapt to all new platforms. With customers on multiple devices and channels, companies must make their presence there known as well.
- Look to the right numbers – There’s a lot of data out there to analyze. Looking into the most important ones will help streamline the process. Combining the usage of different marketing tools and tracking the right metrics or insights can help a company focus its marketing efforts on where they need to be.
The Big Names on Omnichannel Marketing
Arguably the most successful company to have implemented this strategy is Amazon. As one of the world’s biggest names, Amazon has created a wholly cohesive empire. Whether customers are shopping on their website, on the phone, or some of the physical stores for Amazon Fresh, the culture and experience are the same. They’ve expanded to race after customers on all platforms. Everything from music to groceries, Amazon has covered it. And most of all, Amazon has unified their data, so customers find consistency in the products that they see or prefer, in their recommendations, and the personalization.
Starbucks has also successfully navigated omnichannel marketing. Customers are armed with a free rewards card that ultimately urges them to make more purchases. The card can be checked and reloaded as needed online, and in real-time. This way, the customer can even have their card reloaded in line, and it can be used right upon reaching the counter.
Disney is a global giant that uses omnichannel marketing to maintain and promote its entertainment empire. What a customer sees in its theme parks, brick and mortar stores, and shops are precisely the kind of experience they get online on their websites. Even on the site that allows them to plan their annual Disney trip utilizes the same data and branding consistency.
And in a bid to remain on top of all platforms, Disney’s new Disney+ streaming service is giving the company presence in the streaming competition. And with COVID-19 still preventing many people from reaching theatres, dropping their blockbusters like Mulan onto the platform can change the game for theatre entirely.
Omnichannel marketing is no longer optional for a company that wants to make a dent in the competition. Companies are crowing the digital world. It’s time to set a company apart from the others by creating an entire universe of user experiences throughout every different platform, and maintaining consistency through it. By knowing the customer, reaching out to them in every way, and maintaining the experience throughout all channels, a company can prove that it will adapt to any environmental curveball and move past it in the future.
How has your company adapted to the coronavirus pandemic? Have they utilized multi-channel marketing as well? Let us know your experiences below.
About the Author: Manuel Fornillos is the senior author and one of the editors of the Design Doxa team. His writing proficiency covers topics about social media, digital marketing, technology and mobile applications.