Every year there are new marketing strategies and approaches to start investing in. It’s challenging to keep up with what they all are, why they’re effective, and how to adopt them. An omnichannel marketing strategy is one of the latest on a long list of options for marketers to consider. Those who understand what omnichannel marketing is all about know just how it drives key business goals. Once you understand what the strategy is and how it works, it’s easy to see why it represents the future.
Before laying out the benefits of developing an omnichannel marketing strategy, it’s important to define what it really is. Marketers today often confuse omnichannel marketing with multichannel marketing. They’re actually quite different.
Multichannel marketing involves reaching out to audiences on a number of different channels with the same marketing message. The goal is to reach as many potential customers as possible by targeting a wide range of channels. Say, for example, a business is promoting a summer sale. With a multichannel marketing strategy, they would send out the same sale announcement through email, social media, and on their website.
Omnichannel marketing likewise involves reaching out to audiences on different channels, however, the goal with this approach is to engage and interact with the same audience members in various places around the web. Rather than delivering an identical message to everyone, an omnichannel strategy adapts to insights about audience needs and their point in the customer journey. Let’s pretend that a business promotes a summer sale to their audience through email. With an omnichannel marketing strategy, they wouldn’t deliver the same marketing message on social to audiences who already saw the email promotion. Instead, they would adapt their message to upsell or encourage other behaviors related to the campaign goal.
With omnichannel marketing, you need extra tools, tracking technology, and an advanced strategy to succeed. It takes more time, money, and resources than simpler marketing strategies. That said, the benefits greatly outweigh the costs when used the right way. Here are a few:
1. Better data analysis
In order to effectively execute an omnichannel marketing strategy, you need to be able to track the behavior of individual audience members across disparate platforms on the web and offline. Such platforms include:
Doing this effectively will allow you to build a complete view of the customer journey. By tracking and then collecting both online and offline behavioral data, marketers are empowered to pinpoint customer behaviors and better understand their interests and intent.
2. Nuanced segmentation and targeting
A great many marketers don’t realize they need a better picture of their customer journey until they start investing in omnichannel data collection. Once they do, it’s possible to gain more accurate and nuanced insights than originally thought possible. Segmenting your audience based on deep funnel intent data opens up many new targeting possibilities. Businesses can design more effective marketing campaigns that truly speak to the demographics, interests, and needs of audience segments.
Say, for example, a furniture store is delivering remarketing ads to someone who previously browsed baby cribs on their eCommerce site. The customer then goes into their physical store and purchases a crib. Without online/offline data integration, the company would continue showing ads for cribs, which isn’t relevant to the customer anymore. With an omnichannel marketing strategy, the business could switch to marketing other baby-related products to upsell and increase customer lifetime value.
3. Improve brand visibility
The online shopping experience has changed considerably in recent years. Twenty years ago consumers used one or two touch-points to make purchase decisions. Now, it’s common to have four or more:
Investing in omnichannel marketing makes it possible to share your brand message consistently online, offline, in-store, and on mobile. Creating a seamless experience across all of these relevant channels gives your brand more visibility and offers the opportunity for audiences to interact with your business wherever they prefer. This can help drive other important goals like engagement and sales.
4. Create better engagement with your audience
Improving customer engagement has a plethora of benefits for businesses, such as moving leads down the funnel, driving sales, and increasing customer loyalty.
It goes without saying that reaching your audience on more channels provides more opportunities for engagement. Omnichannel marketing does more than that, though. Providing a consistent and relevant marketing message that traverses multiple platforms encourages audience members to engage more than traditional multichannel marketing. Since the message is fluid and changes based on interactions on other platforms, it becomes more relevant. This increases clicks, shares, form fills, and other important engagement metrics.
5. Improve collaboration across teams
Sharing data insights from cross-channel marketing can help businesses improve cross-team collaboration in a lot of ways. Look at sales and marketing alignment, for example. Understanding how individual consumers interact with your brand across touchpoints can help sales teams improve the in-store shopping experience. Tracking a customer’s previous interactions online and offline can also help customer service representatives solve problems and complaints more quickly.
6. Increase sales
All the benefits of an omnichannel marketing strategy can work together to drive one key goal: sales. Plenty of research has shown that adopting an omnichannel strategy encourages people to make purchases and then repeat purchases. According to Omnisend’s 2020 Marketing Automation Statistics Report, the purchase rate of campaigns using three or more channels is 287% higher than single-channel campaigns:
Increasing brand awareness, engaging your audience with a targeted message, and providing better customer service all work together to help a business drive more sales. Offering a seamless experience also makes it easier for customers to find the products they need and buy them, regardless of the platform.
7. Improve customer retention
A recent Aspect survey found that businesses adopting omnichannel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that don’t. There are many ways businesses can improve customer retention through an omnichannel approach to marketing, sales, and customer service. A great example of this in action is the Starbucks Reward Program.
People have masses of choices when it comes to places to buy a cup of coffee, but Starbucks has a great omnichannel marketing strategy that keeps people coming back to their locations. They offer a free rewards card to use when you pay, but you can also refill it via phone, website, in-store, or on the app.
Whichever platform you prefer to use, your card balance updates in real-time. You can also order your custom drink from the app, order and pay ahead, and collect points for special rewards every time you use it. Comparing that to a traditional reward punch card shows what a real omnichannel customer retention strategy is all about.
8. It’s cost-effective
On the surface, it might seem like developing an omnichannel marketing strategy is expensive. You have to invest in the right tools and approach to collect your audience data, analyze it, and then surface insights to deliver a consistent marketing message across channels. However, when you do it the right way, all the investment more than pays for itself.
Developing more accurate performance insights helps businesses allocate their marketing budget more effectively. Having a full picture of the customer journey can empower you to understand which channels are most valuable in driving sales and improving customer retention. This way you can make informed decisions to invest more or less in certain channels, targeting strategies and marketing campaigns. Improving marketing spend efficiency and effectiveness makes omnichannel marketing a very cost-effective business strategy.
While most brands will undoubtedly invest in multichannel marketing in 2020, few will prioritize building a seamless, relevant experience for all audience members across different platforms. That said, adopting marketing intelligence technologies and strategies that allow for true omnichannel operations is on the rise and the approach is well on its way to becoming the standard for businesses both large and small.
Early adopters of an omnichannel strategy are set up to outperform their competitors in a lot of ways over the next few years. Soon it will become mandatory for businesses to update to a modern strategy if they want to stay in the market. Beyond that, there will be a few key strategic factors that allow businesses to keep up with audience expectations and outperform their competitors with omnichannel:
Data Quantity and Quality Management
As online marketing channels continue to grow, so does the digital foot of consumers. The more relevant data you can incorporate into your performance analyses, the better insights you can garner, and the better optimizations you can make. Competitive omnichannel marketers should invest in technologies with the capacity to analyze first party, second party, and third party data to help paint a clear picture of the marketing landscape.
Managing data quality is another important success factor. Data checking and validation can help reduce noise in performance analytics, making insights more accurate and valuable for businesses.
Nuanced Modeling and Attribution
While data quality is important, it doesn’t matter unless you’re prepared to analyze it properly. Once you have a full picture of the customer journey, you need to be able to decide which touchpoints are most valuable for driving key business goals.
Simple models like first and last-click attribution aren’t detailed enough for an omnichannel marketing strategy. Businesses need to invest in tools that can effectively attribute value to all relevant touchpoints. Thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, it’s also possible to project future performance based on past data insights. Businesses that make full use of their audience data can make informed decisions based on historical performance as well as the current marketing landscape.
Operationalizing Insights at Scale
Lastly, creating accurate performance models is only valuable if you can make quick optimizations based on insights. Lots of businesses today have a wealth of performance insights to inform their marketing decisions, yet few have the capacity to act on these insights at scale.
For example, day-to-day changes in the PPC landscape offer opportunities for advertisers to change bids and outrank their competitors in search results. However, it's just not possible for marketing managers to make hundreds or even thousands of micro-optimizations per day. The solution is to invest in paid search management software that can make bid optimizations for you in real-time.
An omnichannel strategy isn’t a radical new way of marketing. It’s just an attempt to consolidate your approach in an increasingly complex marketing landscape (online and off). Consumers are beginning to demand an omnichannel customer experience because they know it’s possible. Businesses that want to please their audiences and keep up with the competition need to start developing a more integrated approach to marketing. Once you accept an omnichannel marketing strategy as the standard, then you can focus on optimization tactics like improving data quality, predicting performance, and operationalizing insights.