We live — and marketers work — in an omnichannel world. As the digital landscape becomes more complex, today’s consumers are navigating it seamlessly, slipping from one channel to the next without missing a beat on the goal they’ve set out to accomplish. In fact, an impressive 86 percent of shoppers regularly hop across two or more channels while shopping.
To consumers, cross-channel activities aren’t given a second thought. But from the marketing and brand experience standpoint, the omnichannel reality is a lot more complicated. Let’s look at what omnichannel success requires in the modern marketing era.
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What Is Omnichannel Marketing?
In the simplest of terms, omnichannel marketing is an approach to marketing that addresses the customer experience on each channel — everything from desktop browsers and mobile apps to social media, podcasts, and more — as well as how customers transition among channels to make purchases. The importance of this comprehensive approach to marketing — one that prioritizes the consumer journey and maintains consistency across it — cannot be overstated.
Customers are more likely to remember brands, view them favorably, and make purchases with them after being exposed to an integrated omnichannel marketing campaign. So, what does it take to build and execute such a strategy? Keep reading to learn more.
What Are the Four Pillars of Omnichannel Marketing?
While the concept of omnichannel marketing is a grand one, the implementation of such a strategy is, in fact, highly tactical. In general, there are four major pillars that support omnichannel marketing: data and insights, strategic planning, channel selection, and reporting and measurement. Let’s dig into each one in more detail.
1. Data and Insights
The backbone of omnichannel marketing relies on a data-driven, strategic approach to properly identifying, interacting with, and engaging consumers. The end goal is to understand your customers and prospects — particularly as it relates to how and where they shop and engage with content — and to deliver targeted, relevant ad placements, creative, and messaging.
Proper execution of an omnichannel strategy typically requires both first-party data (what you know directly about your customers) and third-party data (information from outside sources that reveals new dimensions of these customers). However, collecting this data is just the start. Marketers must then put in the work required to interpret and understand what the data means as it relates to real-world behaviors.
2. Strategic Planning
With a solid foundation of audience data and insights, marketers can then go about making a strategic plan for reaching those audiences across channels. A key part of this step is to solidify your budget and prioritize who to target with your ad spend and in which channels.
Omnichannel marketing is, by definition, a strategy that aims to reach target audiences across the many channels that comprise their customer journey. However, it’s unrealistic to think that a brand can reach all audiences across all channels all the time. This is why the data and insights discussed above are so vital. Approached correctly, they will reveal the most valuable audiences— both existing customers and prospects — for a given brand, as well as their most impactful touch points.
3. Channel Selection
With an understanding of a brand’s target audiences and their customer journeys, it’s time for marketers to decide how to allocate their budgets across channels. A strong omnichannel marketing strategy can include email marketing, social media, search, digital display, digital video, CTV and OTT, out of home, print, mobile, a brand’s own website, affiliate, social influencers, and more. It seems like the list never ends.
The logical question arises: Does my brand need to be present on all of these channels? The answer depends on the brand, its customers, and its resources. While the goal of omnichannel marketing is to create a seamless, unified customer journey across all channels frequented by a brand’s target audiences, it’s important to establish priorities. The goal should be to cover as many channels and platforms as possible, assuming your audiences are on them, but to still be able to do so in an impactful way.
There are a tremendous number of channels from which to choose, and ensuring a diverse marketing mix is valuable, as it helps engage customers wherever they are in their customer journeys and on the platforms that matter to them. Furthermore, including a variety of touchpoints, platforms, and tactics in your plan can help ensure no single channel becomes oversaturated. Ultimately, however, plans will need to operate within the reality of a brand’s marketing budget, which is why strong data and targeting are so important out of the gate.
4. Reporting and Measurement
Finally, we come to reporting and measurement — as vital a pillar of omnichannel marketing as any of the others, but the one that’s perhaps most likely to be overlooked. Proper reporting and measurement enable advertisers to evaluate the execution of their campaigns in a holistic way to understand which tactics and channels are performing well (and which aren’t).
Omnichannel marketing is an always-on endeavor, and that means reporting and measurement should be too. By understanding how different channels are performing and interacting with one another, marketers can shift budgets and efforts accordingly, even while campaigns are still live and running. By committing to continual reporting and measurement, marketers can unlock a cycle of continuous improvement that enables greater efficiencies and the ability to test new audiences, channels, and tactics that might be of interest but perhaps weren’t included in earlier planning. Furthermore, proper reporting and measurement enable marketers to identify shifts in consumer behaviors, marketplace realities, and channel performance before they can significantly impact a brand’s omnichannel results.
What Is an Example of an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy in Action?
From a consumer standpoint, we rarely spend time thinking about how we become aware of and start purchasing from a brand, nor do we think about the many ways in which our favorite brands communicate and interact with us. Omnichannel marketing, at its best, is seamless in that regard.
Let’s consider how a modern fashion brand might employ an omnichannel marketing strategy to provide a unified and personalized experience to its prospects and customers across various platforms and channels.
- Online store and mobile app: The brand has a user-friendly online store and mobile app that offer a wide range of clothing and accessories. Customers can browse the products, add items to their cart, and create wishlists. Their activity and preferences are tracked to provide personalized recommendations.
- Personalized and retargeted display advertising: The fashion brand employs data-driven advertising campaigns across various platforms. Some ads leverage contextual data to reach likely targets. In other instances, a person who recently viewed a specific dress on the website might see retargeted ads featuring that dress on other websites they visit.
- Social media advertising: The brand also runs targeted display advertising campaigns on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. The ads direct users to the brand’s online store or encourage them to download the mobile app.
- Location-based mobile ads: The brand might also use location-based advertising to send targeted offers and promotions to potential customers’ mobile devices when they are near one of the company’s store locations.
- SEO and paid search: The fashion brand optimizes its website for search engines to ensure that it appears in relevant search results when potential customers are looking for fashion products. The company also employs paid search ads to attract potential customers actively searching for fashion products online.
- Video advertising: The brand amplifies its omnichannel marketing strategy by incorporating video ads across YouTube and other online platforms that showcase its latest collections, styling tips, and customer testimonials.
- Email marketing: The company also sends personalized email campaigns to its subscribers. These emails include abandoned cart reminders, personalized product recommendations based on browsing history, exclusive offers, and updates about upcoming sales or new arrivals.
- Social media: The company maintains active profiles on popular social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. It regularly posts high-quality images of its latest collections, style guides, and user-generated content.
- In-store experience: The brand ensures its physical stores are aligned with its digital efforts. In-store tablets allow customers to browse the online catalog, check product availability, and even place online orders for items that might not be in stock.
In this omnichannel marketing example, the fashion brand leverages multiple platforms and channels to create a seamless and integrated customer experience. The goal is to provide convenience, personalization, and engagement at every touchpoint, ultimately driving customer loyalty and increasing sales.
As extensive as the above list is, it’s really just a starting point. Additional consumer touchpoints leveraged by the brand could include user-generated content, print, direct mail, OOH and DOOH, TV advertising, chatbots and customer support, loyalty programs and more.
A Real-World Omnichannel Marketing Case Study
Every brand should be thinking about their prospects and customers in an omnichannel capacity. So, what does that look like when it comes to campaign planning, execution, and results? Consider the example of a power tool company that was recently looking to drive sales during two campaign flights — one right before Christmas and one during springtime. To do this, the company employed a mix of full-funnel tactics to create awareness among new prospects and drive individuals to purchase its tools at a major retailer.
With its campaigns, the brand reached potential customers across the U.S. through video, OTT, social media, and display ads. Specific tactics included:
- Video retargeting: The brand placed a pixel on its landing page and retargeted anyone who visited with a video.
- Pre-roll contextual advertising: The brand placed ads within content categories focused on homeowners, DIY projects, home projects, crafters, and outside yard work.
- Social to display ads: The brand leveraged its existing social assets from Facebook to create display ads in a seamless execution.
The combination of tactics and channels enabled the brand to exceed campaign goals, driving more than 11,000 conversions and a 0.20 percent click-through rate. The results were a testament to the company’s unified omnichannel approach to aligning its efforts with the full customer journey.
Why You Should Use Omnichannel Marketing
Omnichannel marketing enables a seamless purchase journey for consumers every step of the way. Furthermore, with proper planning and execution, omnichannel marketing allows advertisers to quickly adapt their marketing tactics and advertising campaigns without losing contact with consumers and ensuring continued access to the data and insights needed for continual optimization.
The importance of omnichannel marketing within today’s highly fragmented digital world cannot be overstated. Consider:
Let’s delve deeper into why omnichannel marketing is so successful in driving improved campaign results, marketing ROI, and customer relationships.
Today, Shopping Is Omnichannel
Today’s marketing must be omnichannel because, quite simply, today’s shopper experience is omnichannel. Consumers no longer adhere to the traditional distinctions between online and offline shopping. Rather, they seamlessly navigate a multitude of interconnected touchpoints.
As technology has advanced, the concept of omnichannel has redefined the way consumers interact with brands. From browsing products on mobile apps and websites to engaging with brands on social media and exploring physical stores, the modern shopper expects a cohesive and unified experience. An omnichannel approach ensures that customers can effortlessly transition among platforms, digital interactions, and in-person experiences while enjoying consistent branding, personalized recommendations, and convenient options tailored to their needs, like click-and-collect or home delivery.
Omnichannel Data Provides a More-Complete Understanding
A properly executed omnichannel marketing strategy provides brands with a unified 360-degree view of how consumers engage with them across every step of the customer journey. Importantly, the data and insights gleaned from an omnichannel marketing approach serve to improve brand experiences that extend well beyond just marketing and advertising. Customer engagements, transactions, and feedback provide valuable information that can help a company improve its customer service, technical support, brand initiatives, and even its product design.
Omnichannel Marketing Improves Personalization
Research has shown that 80 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences, and as younger generations acquire more buying power, that imperative becomes even stronger. Omnichannel marketing, given the more comprehensive approach it takes to understanding and engaging customers and prospects, enables brands to better customize their efforts to individual consumers based on where they are in their journey, the product they’re seeking, and the relationship they have already established with the brand.
Omnichannel Marketing Best Practices
Omnichannel marketing requires a significant amount of planning. Here’s where marketers need to be focusing their efforts:
Have a Deep Understanding of Your Customer’s Journey
Understanding the customer journey is paramount to achieving success in omnichannel marketing. By comprehending the intricate path a customer takes from awareness to purchase and beyond, businesses can tailor their strategies to align seamlessly with each touchpoint. This knowledge empowers advertisers to deliver consistent messaging, relevant content, and personalized experiences, regardless of the channel or device a customer uses to engage a brand.
In the dynamic landscape of omnichannel marketing, a deep comprehension of the customer journey serves as the compass guiding advertisers toward building enduring relationships with consumers and achieving their goals. By harnessing the right data and insights, businesses can identify customer pain points, optimize transitions, and ensure a cohesive narrative that resonates with customers. This ultimately helps build trust, foster loyalty, and provide the convenience and satisfaction that modern consumers demand.
Pick the Right Channels
Omnichannel marketing doesn’t mean being everywhere. It means being where your customer is — and ensuring your messaging and image are consistent in those places.
Selecting the appropriate channels for an effective omnichannel marketing strategy demands a strategic approach. Begin by understanding your target audience and their preferences. Research which platforms they frequently use and how they engage with content. At the same time, analyze your product or service to determine the best opportunities to showcase its features. Likewise, consider the nature of your brand message; some channels are better suited for visual content, while others excel in delivering in-depth information. Choose wisely.
Stay on Top of the Data
When a brand is running different creatives across different channels, the data begins to pile up quickly. Before you even get started with these campaigns, be sure to outline a plan for data collection, organization, integration, and optimization. With multiple incoming data sources, it’s easy to get lost quickly in an avalanche of spreadsheets. Selecting a data analytics solution that works for your brand will help avoid this fate.
Be sure to collaborate across departments to ensure a holistic approach that aligns with your brand’s business goals. Continuously monitor channel performance and adapt based on results to focus resources on channels that yield the highest engagement and conversions. In the end, a meticulous blend of audience insights, campaign results, and data-driven decisions will allow your omnichannel strategy to thrive.
Hire an Expert If You Can’t DIY
Omnichannel marketing is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t have a team that can make all the steps of omnichannel marketing a priority, you’re better off not doing it all. Hiring experts makes sense for teams that don’t have the time or expertise to connect the dots across the many touchpoints of the customer journey.
Are you ready to unlock the full power of strategic omnichannel marketing for your brand? We’re here to help. Let’s talk about what Digilant can do for you.