Marketers of all sizes need to recognize the digital tools they have on hand and know how to use them to attract today’s shoppers. So let’s take a look at what’s involved in setting up and operating effective omnichannel marketing solutions.
The natural place to start is by defining what an omnichannel actually is (and isn’t).
An omnichannel marketing strategy refers to a strategy by which the sales process, from awareness to action, and beyond, is seamless to your customers across mostly digital media channels. All roads (easily) lead to that first sale and then repeat business. The customer never breaks a sweat.
That’s the basics. Now let’s take a deeper look.
What it Isn’t is Multichannel Marketing
By name, omnichannel sounds like a fancy new way of saying multichannel marketing, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not.
In the old, pre-Internet sales and marketing days (you remember those…some of you) advertising campaigns were all about exploiting multichannel strategies. If you had the budget, you ran coordinated ad campaigns with maybe print ads, TV spots, billboards, and radio commercials.
You’ve evolved, and now your marketing mix includes ads and related messaging across social media, email lists, and various web destination. Basically, it’s the same thing you used to do, except the strategy is mostly conducted on digital platforms. And an omnichannel marketing strategy is basically the same thing.
You might have found all kinds of digital real estate to post your messaging, but none of them work together. You’re expecting your customers to become aware of what you have to offer and figure out that they need it and how to get it.
Eventually, they might. But you haven’t made it easy for them.
Establishing omnichannel marketing solutions is all about connecting all of those unique channels and turning them into an easy-to-follow digital path that starts with the customer and ends with easy completion of the sales transaction. Then it puts the customer right back on that same path, eager to repeat the sale tomorrow or next month or five years from now, depending on what you’re selling.
Now let’s look at just some of the tools you might use to get and keep them on that path.
Capture Their Interest
How you do this is going to depend on what you’re selling and what you’ve found that works in the past. If you’re not doing it already, all of your marketing approaches should result in your team capturing your customers’ digital contact information.
This is, of course, easier to do if you’ve already gotten them into your physical or virtual space. Whether they’re at the ‘interest’ stage of the sales funnel or they’ve taken action, they’re quite possibly motivated to share this information with you, and perhaps even interact with whatever messaging you send their way (as long as you don’t bug the hell out of them).
You might also get contact information by establishing accounts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or whatever social media makes sense to add to your audience. However you constantly build your customer and prospect database, you’re now ready to start drawing them in.
Be as Mobile as Your Customers
It’s likely that your most effective omnichannel marketing solution is in your customers’ hands right now. Or in their purses, pockets, or backpacks. It’s their smartphones, of course.
That means it’s critical that your website is optimized for mobile. And that whatever messages you put into cyberspace, they can land in your customers’ phones when they’re at home, at work, in bed, or in your store (or your competitor’s).
Depending on your product or service mix, your company might get a sale, or a missed sales opportunity, from your customers’ phones at any time of the day or night. Or a reservation placed or service call made. Today, almost all omnichannel marketing solutions runs through your customers’ phones.
Give ‘Em a Place to Land
What do you want them to do? Where and how do you want them to do it? This involves some careful thought.
Sometimes it’s easy. You want your customers to go to your website, look at a menu, order a pizza and decide carryout or pickup. But if you own a luxury car dealership, it’s not easy. You want them to take time out of their day to show up at a scheduled time and take a test drive. Or, if you just sold them a car a year ago you want to see how it’s running, schedule routine maintenance and just generally stay in their heads.
These are two very different approaches, and both might be very different from how you interact with your own customers. Once you’ve figured it out, you can create a landing page (or pages) that encourages your customers to take that next step. To move one more block or so on your path to a sale.
Become the Authority
People want to deal with experts. They’ll order carryout from a restaurant they feel will give them a good meal. They’ll get their cars serviced at garages where they think the mechanics know what they’re doing. They’ll market their homes with real estate agents they think can get them the best return on their most precious investment.
One way of attracting awareness and interest for your offering is to demonstrate your expertise in your field, whether it’s in pizza, car repair, or home sales. It’s not hard to showcase that expertise today. Write a blog. Host a podcast. Both can be done very affordably, even if you can’t write or know anything about podcast technology. Once again, trust the experts.
Establishing expertise in your field is a full-time job. But your blog, podcast, or other communications strategies are more omnichannel marketing tools. Remember those email and text contacts you’ve worked so hard to collect? Use them to tell your customers and prospects that you’ve got this new channel. You’re not trying to sell them anything (at least not directly), so what do they have to lose?
Your podcast or blog really isn’t a thirty-minute ad or a thousand words of sales copy. It’s solid and useful information. You’re going to tell your customers how to rebuild their carburetor. How to tell when their furnaces are about to crash and keep that from happening. How to make vegan soups that are just as yummy as the ones you sell in your restaurant.
Why you might ask yourself, do you give your customers information that might stop them from scheduling an appointment in your service garage? Keep them from calling your people for an HVAC checkup or reserving a table at your restaurant?
Because you’re telling the truth. You’re demonstrating your expertise. You’re sharing comprehensive and useful information And really, when it comes down to it, how many of your fans are actually going to rebuild their carburetors on their own? Some might, but they’ll order parts through your garage. Or call for a tow truck and repairs when the do-it-yourself approach doesn’t quite pan out.
Apps Make Sense…if They Make Sense
Sherwin Williams has an app that lets you use your phone to take pictures of your room and then “paint” it with a Pantone shade that’s only available at your local Sherwin Williams paint store.
Your bank has an app that lets you take a photo of the check you received, and then electronically deposit it into your account with your phone. Restaurant chains have apps from which you can read menus, place orders, and schedule deliveries without leaving your couch.
In each of these cases, the app provides a valuable service. And in each case, the only logical outcome of app use is to buy from the sponsor. You don’t go pull up a Chipotle menu unless you’re hungry and eager to place an order. What would you do with your bank’s app except for deposit checks and stay loyal? And sure, we suppose you could find the perfect Sherwin Williams Pantone color and then go to another paint store and see how close you can match it…but why?
Now for the downside of apps: they use prime phone real estate. Downloading takes time. Too many can slow your phone. So ask yourself whether you have something of value to provide your customers via the app. If you do, it’s an excellent way of making your customers’ lives easier, thereby capturing their loyalty and virtually guaranteeing repeat business. If not, they’re a waste of time.
So apps make sense if they make sense.
Be Your Customer
We’ve given you a few examples of what you might do to establish effective omnichannel marketing solutions for some targeted audiences. But every business, every product or service offering, is different. To know what will work for your audience, you must totally put yourself in the minds of your customers or clients.
How are they likely to be captured and what will make them want to interact with your company? What’s the proper sales path to get them from awareness to action? Maybe you start with a text message with a link to a landing page offering a test drive. Or it’s an email with a link to an Amazon catalog and the promise of a 20 percent discount on your first order. Whatever the route is, it will be unique to your company.
Let’s Build Omnichannel Marketing Solutions That Work For You
At Digilant, it’s our job to think like our clients and their clients or customers. Then we’ll help you custom-build omnichannel marketing solutions that uniquely work for your company and your target audience.
Our team of biddable media experts is eager to create a custom omnichannel marketing solution that works for your business. Let’s talk.