The No-Sweat Guide to Omni-Channel Marketing for Those Who Don’t Know How to Start

Throughout the day, consumers move across multiple devices and platforms to consume content. And the transitions are seamless—they could be on their laptop one moment, on their phones the next, and eventually move on to their smart TVs – sometimes, all within the span of an hour.

In much the same way, this also marks consumers’ behavior when engaging with brands and companies. And this behavioral shift led to the birth of an increasingly important concept—omni-channel marketing.

 

So what is Omni-channel Marketing?

Because people interact with companies in a myriad of ways (physical stores, e-commerce sites, mobile apps, email, social media, etc.), there is now a need to make all of the interactions and experiences as smooth as can be. Consumers expect nothing less.  

It is one thing to be present on all channels and devices, it is another to be able to make the consumer experience not only as swimmingly across these, but perhaps more importantly – consistent and complementary.

“Omni-channel anticipates that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution,” explains Time Warner Cable VP of Customer Care John Bowden.

“Making these complex ‘hand-offs’ between channels must be fluid for the customer. Simply put, omni-channel is multi-channel done right.”

 

Why it is important

Customers expect a fluid interaction wherever they may be. Whether it’s when speaking with a sales rep, browsing through your website on their phones, or consulting with a customer service rep – customers expect the experience to be consistent. An experience that is clunky, or one that leads to being fed conflicting information could result in an unsatisfied customer driven away towards your competitor.

Here are some numbers to back it up:

  • According to the Pedowitz Group, a revenue marketing consulting firm, 98 percent of Americans switch between devices in the same day.
  • 90 percent of customers expect consistent interactions across channels.
  • Campaigns integrating four or more digital channels will outperform single or dual-channel campaigns by 300 percent.

You need to be mindful, though, of how to execute “consistency,” particularly when it comes to messaging, as you don’t want the customer to feel bombarded across the multiple channels. Apart from being fluid and consistent, careful coordination between different departments (like sales, marketing, customer service, and IT, among others) is crucial in making the customer experience feel like a continuous conversation – and not a messaging blast.

The harmonious customer experience brought about by omni-channel marketing is key in building long-term relationships with consumers that expect to be treated the same way by your brand, whichever platform they may be using.

 

Take note of this difference

Before you get started on crafting an omni-channel strategy, it is important to note the subtle differences between multi-channel and omni-channel marketing, as it’s easy to confuse the two concepts.

Just to be clear, multi-channel marketing refers to a company’s ability to interact with consumers on various platforms. These could be print ads, social media, a promotional event, or a physical store, among others. Meanwhile, omni-channel is a multi-channel approach that provides an integrated experience.

Misia Tramp, EVP of Insights and Innovations for Tahzoo elaborates, “There is a tendency to consider the many channels available to connect with consumers today as simply more options to be used. That’s more of a multi-channel approach. Omni-channel involves using data to understand where effort exists in the customer experience and how to remove, rather than add, effort.”

 

How to get started with omni-channel marketing

While omni-channel marketing is a practice that has continued to hold increasing importance, a good number of companies are still struggling to implement it correctly.

According to a 2015 Multi-channel Digital Marketing Report, 46 percent of organizations deliver poor customer experiences, which lead to cart abandonment. The same report states that 51 percent of marketers are unable to react to new channels, devices, trends, or competitors, using their current technology.  

Here are some tips on how to get started:

 

1. Build the foundation

Define your goals

Like any digital marketing strategy, it is important that before anything else, the company is able to set clearly defined goals. If one of the main goals is to provide a customer experience that is consistent, and fluid – then not only should the goals be clear, it should be aligned across all pertinent departments.

 

Reevaluate your current performance

Of course, to be able to define your omni-channel marketing goals, you need to take a careful look at how you’re currently doing things. And to have a better perspective, you need to view the process in the eyes of the customer. You need to test the entire experience to see which needs further integration. Research your own products, place an order, and interact via all available channels.

Define what works and what doesn’t, what makes the current transition between channels/the customer journey shaky, and what you need to focus on.

Going through the process yourself allows you to walk in your customer’s shoes, and provides you crucial insights as to what you need to work on.

 

2. Know your customers deeper

Omni-channel should be customer centric. The changes you’ll implement should revolve around how to make the customer experience better.

Modern customers have also come to expect experiences that are more personalized. This is why it is equally important that you get to know your customers on a deeper level.

The uniqueness of each individual customer requires identifying and understanding why they behave the way they do. Being able to point out life events that motivate their consumer behavior, allows you to cater to their needs in the exact way they need it.

Their current location and the devices they use to connect with you trigger a change in purchasing behavior, and being keenly aware of such opens you up to new retail opportunities. And with countless tools (social listening tools, and other data streams) at your disposal to know your customers better, you’re selling yourself short if you don’t.

You need to understand what your customer is looking for, tap into their wants, and provide them what they need.

Also try to identify their “micro-moments”, or the moments when people check their device to accomplish/watch/discover/learn something. Since a micro-moment is intent-rich when decisions are made, adapting these moments to your customer journey could take your omni-channel marketing to a higher level.

Here are three examples of brands who excelled in this area:

 

 

3. Coordination strategy

Traditionally siloed organization structure was a main hindrance in omni-channel efforts. And for a number of companies, it still is. But with the changing times, there has been a significant drop in organizations sticking to the traditional structure.

As pointed out by Instapage, an increasing number of companies are learning to redefine and reorganize teams. Rose Hamilton, EVP, CMO, and GM at Pet360, shared that their marketing team is now considered a “customer engagement team.” The redefined department has been restructured to handle product development, marketing, CRM, and PR. IT has also been made part of the team, allowing them to have a better grasp of what marketing wants to do, and create more tailored solutions.

The restructuring of traditional roles gives teams a better understanding of the collective effort, and how their individual role fits in the omni-channel efforts in relation to others, leading to more open communication lines between teams.

 

4. Integrated marketing technology

As omni-channel marketing could be overbearing especially those with manpower issues and can’t provide much resources, marketers have the option to try integrating marketing technology to aid them in the implementation of the strategy.

A marketing technology stack refers to the tools organizations use in conjunction with a particular campaign.

Some of the most popular ones include: CRM (Customer Relationship Management software), marketing automation platform, content management system, analytics and data visualization solutions, among others.  

Central to this stack is the CRM – which allows companies to record each buyer’s journey—from prospect to customer. But while the CRM is considered the heart, the analytics tool is the brain, allowing organizations to make informed decisions, particularly in relation to their overall strategy.

As noted by a CMO Council report, a company’s relationship with data determines their understanding of customer behavior.

 

Best practices

1. Value City Furniture

 

 

The furniture brand created a platform designed to bridge data between physical stores, online carts and shopping. Called, “Easy Pass,” the tech allows for store employees to pull up info based on customers’ online lists, and show them the in-store collection. Easy Pass not only cultivates engagement on different touch points, it also provides the value of allowing customers to physically touch a product – something that tends to lead to a purchase.

As well, with in-store selections seamlessly added to their digital wishlists, when customers receive communication from the brand, it includes all the info needed to help them make a decision—from dimensions, and product photos, to chat links and even the name and contact info of the employee they physically interacted with.

Additionally, when customers abandon a cart, or when they’re in-store, they receive an email pushing them towards the Easy Pay system. The strategy led to tremendous results for Value City, as they enjoyed a 283 percent raise in abandonment revenue, 190 percent in overall email revenue, 55 percent growth in shoppers reached.

 

2. Starbucks

 

 

With the Starbucks rewards app, customers have the option of checking and reloading their Starbucks card balance via their phone, the Starbucks website, or in-store. Balance, rewards or profile changes are updated in real time, across all channels, without any action on the user’s part. As well, customers can pay using either their physical reward cards, or their phones, with the balance automatically updated online and in the app.

The rewards app is consistently mentioned in the list of the best omni-channel campaigns.

 

Takeaway

The hyper-competitive retail landscape has made omni-channel marketing a necessity. Those who are late to adopt will inevitably be eaten alive before they know it by competitors who stayed on their toes.

How are your customers responding to your multiple platforms? Have you begun to take steps to make them more integrated?

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and find out how you can improve your different processes. It is the only way to go.

 

Jolina Landicho

Content Marketing Manager, Avenew Media

December 18, 2017

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