In the ever-evolving world of digital advertising, new terminology is popping up left and right. As advertisers, it’s our job to stay up to date with these new solutions and how best to implement them into our digital media plans. One of the terms that have been on everyone’s mind in recent years is omnichannel marketing. So, what is omnichannel marketing? Keep reading to learn more.
The History of Omnichannel Marketing
Before we jump into what is omnichannel marketing, it’s essential to understand how we got to the data-driven marketing approach many marketers have today. Here’s a brief history lesson.
Traditionally, marketing plans placed the brand at the center of the equation. Campaigns and strategies highlighted aspects of the brand or product that companies thought a wide-variety of consumers would resonate with. Campaigns centered around the brand or product, drawing consumers’ interest to buy, like the product, establish brand loyalty, and continue to purchase from the brand. A perfect circular customer journey cycle: discover, buy, use, engage.
This was the tried and true method for decades. However, just after the turn of the century and into the mid-2000s, companies started to feel the impact of big-name retailers gaining traction.
Smaller companies were losing sales to retailers with more resources and higher advertising budgets (such as Walmart and Amazon), and they realized they needed to find a solution, fast. Hence, the birth of customer-centric marketing – or how we refer to it: omnichannel marketing.
Brands realized the traditional advertising methods were no longer working for them. It was time to flip the model on its head. Rather than having their brand at the center of the advertising campaigns, companies started using strategic methods to place the consumers front and center. Meeting consumers wherever they are in the buying cycle and serving ads and product recommendations based on that information would garner much greater success than playing a guessing game, offering deals and promotions that they thought customers would be interested in seeing.
As if advertisers needed additional challenges to deal with during this time, consumers started to experiment with online buying channels more frequently, and social media skyrocketed in popularity. Both these changes showed brands that they not only needed to change how they were talking to consumers, but they also needed to change where they were talking to consumers.
The beginning days of this new customer-centric marketing world more closely mirrored what we know of today as multi-channel marketing. Multichannel marketing is an approach to marketing that reaches and engages with consumers through multiple channels like a desktop browser, mobile, retail, social media, podcast, etc. Each channel functions independently, often with different messaging, but with the same goal of reaching target audiences. If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between multichannel and omnichannel marketing, check out our blog here.
However, as technology and resources continued to evolve and advertisers recognized its benefits, omnichannel marketing started to take the spotlight. By 2015, 45% of companies reported that omnichannel marketing was a priority. Over the next year, the number of martech providers grew more than ever before. This historic growth of online retail was the driving force for brands to work out any kinks of aligning their offline and online strategies to fully embrace an omnichannel marketing strategy. And since this 2016 push, omnichannel marketing strategies have continued to improve and streamline into the data-driven, extremely targeting advertising we know of in 2020.
Now, more than 90% of brands say that an omnichannel marketing solution is of top priority for their company. So, back to the original question…
What is omnichannel marketing?
In the simplest of terms, omnichannel marketing is an approach to marketing that addresses the customer experience on each channel – desktop browser, mobile, retail, social media, podcast, and any others you might use – and how customers transition between channels they make purchases.
There are four major aspects to omnichannel marketing: data & insights, planning, channels, and reporting and measurement (optimization), as seen in the graphic below.
Data & Insights
The backbone of omnichannel marketing relies on a data-driven, strategic approach to properly identify, interact with, and engage consumers. Whether that is 1st party data, third party data or a combination of the two – the more you know and understand about your customers, the better targeted and relevant your ad placements and ad creative and messaging will be.
However, acquiring and collecting data is only the first step. You also need a team of data analysts or experts to help understand the data and know how best to use it. This team can work in tandem with (or within the same role as) the team in charge of the next step.
Once you have acquired and analyzed your data, logically it’s time to make a plan. This step includes solidifying your budget and recognizing where best that investment can be placed.
As mentioned above, this team might work in tandem with or cover both roles as the data team. At Digilant we have a team of designated Planning & Insights Strategists that use their strategic voice to help brands and advertisers to comprehend large data sets, drive performance through informed decisions, and understand consumer behavior.
An omnichannel marketing solution includes email marketing, social media, search, digital display, digital video, CTV/OTT, out of home, print, mobile, your website, affiliate, social influencer – the list seems like it never ends! Now you might be asking yourself: “does my brand need to be present on each of these channels?” That answer depends. If your consumers are active on these channels, your brand should be too. As mentioned above, the premise of omnichannel marketing is to create a seamless, unified customer journey across all channels your consumer uses.
Having a presence on each of these channels requires different ad formats and ad messaging – and, you may be targeting different segments of your audience within these channels.
Reporting & Measurement
When discussing how marketing strategies have evolved over the last 20 years or so, one of the greatest benefits advertisers are now able to tap into is reporting, measurement, and optimization – all in real-time. Advertisers no longer have to wait until an ad campaign has run its course on TV or calculate print ads sales attribution. Advertisers are now able to see the execution of their campaigns, what tactics and channels are performing well (and which aren’t), and shift budget and efforts accordingly, all while the campaigns are still live and running.
These reports allow advertisers to see the full picture of the customer journey – how many touchpoints it takes until a consumer is willing to purchase, which channels they are most likely to buy from, which audience segments are more likely to buy which products, and much more.
In turn, all of this creates a new cycle. The data is stored, organized, and activated to be put back into the cycle at step 1: data & insights; so campaigns are constantly improving upon one themselves.
The setup and organization of an omnichannel marketing strategy is not an overnight process. However, the benefits that brands will see when implementing will work as motivation to push you toward the end goal. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits brands see when implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy, you can read about that here.
Many brands don’t have the in-house resources to establish an omnichannel marketing strategy. A solution is to find a is finding a strategic, data-driven partner to manage, run, and optimize your omnichannel campaign. The Digilant team is made up of data analysts, biddable-media platform experts, and ad tech specialists sitting alongside planners and strategists. We understand what a digital media strategy requires – radical transparency and a team of experts who are agile and flexible. Interested in learning more about Digilant’s omnichannel marketing solutions? Let’s talk.