A recent study from Deloitte found that the average U.S. household uses 11 internet-connected devices. Given that connectivity is now built into everything from televisions to appliances, that number shouldn’t come as a surprise.
People use these devices in different ways, sometimes relying on more than one of them for just one thing. Data from Google suggests that 90% of people actually use multiple devices to accomplish a single online task. If you’ve ever looked for, say, concert or movie tickets on your smartphone and then switched over to a laptop to purchase them, you’re part of the 90%.
In short, modern consumers are everywhere. That means marketers need to be able to reach them everywhere — and effectively. The goal is to create a seamless consumer experience on Facebook, in an email inbox, via streaming audio, and in the store. But achieving that goal requires the right approach. The right approach requires understanding the distinction between two marketing strategies.
Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Marketing Strategies
Good marketers know that consumers expect integrated brand experiences that cover in-store, online, and any other types of interactions. With this in mind, it’s still easy to fall into the trap of executing a multichannel marketing campaign, rather than omnichannel.
What’s the difference? A multichannel marketing approach also engages consumers through a variety of channels, but it treats each channel independently — which is precisely why it causes challenges. When marketers put media channels in silos, they risk targeting consumers across different channels with the exact same message. They miss the nuance, and that means they miss opportunities to use channel-optimized messaging to move audiences down the funnel. They might also reach the same audiences on a variety of platforms and mistakenly conclude that their reach is greater than it really is.
Multichannel marketing doesn’t allow for tracking the entire customer journey as omnichannel marketing does, and quality multichannel data acquisition is difficult. It keeps marketers from getting the full picture and some hugely important details. Think of it this way: if a prospective customer went into the store to purchase a product that’s still sitting in their online shopping cart, marketers might continue to target them with lower-funnel tactics aimed at driving a purchase — even though it’s already been made.
At best, multichannel marketing is a missed opportunity to deliver tailored, current, relevant messaging that inspires loyalty, retention, and advocacy. At worst, it drives customers away.
Why Digital Alone Isn’t Enough
Multichannel marketing doesn’t allow for the type of brand interactions that today’s consumers crave. It also doesn’t account for consumers’ desire to experience the world beyond the screen.
Some marketers assume that the heightened popularity of digital channels in the wake of the pandemic means that creating and measuring in-person interactions is less important. These same marketers are usually quick to point out the advantages of digital marketing vs. traditional marketing. But while it’s true that digital has become more important, consumer demand for in-person and in-store experiences certainly still exists.
A notable 78% of Gen Z consumers, who are often thought of as the first digital natives, still tend to make purchases in-store. Moreover, recent research from Forrester found that 30% to 40% of all consumers using click-and-collect buy additional items when they go to the store to pick up their purchases, further validating the need for marketers to create compelling experiences in physical spaces.
Consumers are constantly bombarded with digital ads. In-person experiences, on the other hand, offer a unique opportunity for brands to have memorable interactions with customers and drive greater brand recognition. And when they’re part of an omnichannel approach that also includes related and relevant digital tactics (for example, branded hashtags to encourage social sharing) their impact becomes even more significant, as well as more quantifiable.
Using Consumer Data Wisely
That ability to quantify and measure is the key to omnichannel success — and marketing success as a whole. Effective omnichannel marketing requires brands to collect and analyze first-party data, specifically. As a result, an omnichannel strategy must be designed thoughtfully, with a heavy emphasis on security and customer privacy. Marketers looking to implement omnichannel campaigns and strategies, improve the campaigns and strategies they already have in place, or mitigate the risk of a data breach should keep the following best practices in mind:
1. Don’t ask for consumer data you can’t secure.
The database you use to store customer information must be protected from external actors who might want to steal it, as well as potential internal threats. Make sure you have the appropriate firewalls, authorization and authentication protocols, and other measures in place before collecting any first-party data. Otherwise, you’re exposing your company and your customers to unacceptable levels of risk.
2. Be transparent about your intentions.
When asking customers to share personal information, be clear about how you intend to use it. Now more than ever, consumers want to understand what brands are doing with their data and how they might benefit from it. If you’re selling or buying data for advertising purposes, let them know, and be sure you’re working with trusted partners who keep safety and privacy at the forefront of their values.
3. Empower consumers to make decisions about their data.
First-party data can take many forms, and all of it is valuable. Let consumers decide what personal information they want to share — whether an email address, phone number, or something else — but don’t require them to divulge all of it. The more flexibility you offer, the greater your odds of acquiring the data you need to power your marketing efforts.
As data privacy becomes increasingly important, marketers have to ensure that compliance is a central focus of every initiative. To learn how Digilant can help you develop more secure omnichannel campaigns, get in touch today.