What is Omnichannel Marketing, Why it Matters, and How to Do it Right
By Megan Wells
The modern purchasing process spans multiple channels. In addition to traditional brick-and-mortar storefronts, consumers also interact with brands via email, social media, and websites, and across multiple devices ranging from desktop to smartphones to tablets. In fact, research from Google found that 90% of consumers surveyed reported using more than one device to accomplish a single objective online. What’s more, consumers regularly use roughly four devices in a day while having access to up to 10 connected devices to complete their digital tasks.
With the power of choice, brands face new challenges when it comes to providing a memorable, seamless experience at every turn, regardless of the medium. And, shoppers quickly become enamored by brands who are up to the task.
Harvard Business Review’s study of 46,000 shoppers found that taking time to wow omnichannel customers is indeed valuable. Omnichannel users spent an average of 4% more in-store and 10% more online than single-channel shoppers. And other research shows that omnichannel marketing strategies lead to higher customer retention, too.
Read on to learn what omnichannel marketing is, how it’s different from multichannel marketing, and how brands use it to wow customers and increase sales.
What is omnichannel marketing?
The basic idea behind omnichannel marketing is this: make things easy for your customer, no matter when, no matter where. The best way to do that is by providing a consistent brand experience across all interactions on all channels.
For the customer, omnichannel marketing looks like:
- Not having to re-explain their situation every time they get a new customer service rep
- Receiving personalized recommendations based on their past behaviors
- Picking up right where they left off, even from another device or IP address
When you focus on customer experience at every step of the buyer’s journey, regardless of channel, you can provide a more consistent, personalized, and stress-free experience. For your brand, the outcomes are better CX scores, plus increased customer loyalty and sales.
Omnichannel vs. multichannel marketing
On the surface, they seem similar, but omnichannel and multichannel marketing is very different.
Multichannel marketing is based on the idea that you should be where your customers are. It simply refers to distributing content, advertisements, and messaging through multiple channels. For example, brands may communicate with prospects and customers via any combination of email, social media, website, mobile app, physical location, etc.
This “meet them where they’re at” approach is great in that it lets users choose how they interact with you. But the pitfall is that every channel operates independently of the others, making it harder to align strategy and goals. When your marketing efforts are siloed rather than integrated into a single experience, the result is often disjointed, impersonal, and frustrating for the customer.
On the other hand, omnichannel marketing goes beyond simply firing off marketing messages from all barrels. It means integrating your efforts to make all channels work together as one. This approach means syncing all digital channels, and then connecting those with in-person interactions to create a unified experience.
How companies like Sephora and H-E-B use omnichannel marketing to wow customers
1. Sephora | Beauty retail
While most businesses are doing multichannel marketing, very few have a handle on the omnichannel approach.
That said, Sephora continues to stand out among brands that are redefining CX. They’ve mastered fusing digital and in-person experiences. For example, Sephora Beauty Advisors scan every product they use during in-store makeovers. Afterward, the company emails a product list to the customer so they can easily purchase everything they need online.
They’re also using AR and other technology to pair customers with their perfect product match, among thousands. Their Color IQ system helps shoppers find the right foundation for their skin tone. Since launching in 2012, Sephora stores have generated 14 million Color IQ match codes.
2. H-E-B | Food retail
The pandemic has encouraged many brands to make their digital and in-store experiences more seamless. In an effort to provide contactless service, grocery store chains like HEB began offering free curbside pickup service. At the store, designated parking spots with clearly marked signage connect the experience, letting curbside customers know where to park and wait.
Beyond that, HEB offers a personal shopping service for seniors with same-day delivery. Shoppers can order online or via the Favor delivery app, using a curated list of H-E-B products. Seamless integration with the delivery partner is key to making the experience easy for the user. The company boasts $32 billion in annual sales and leads the rankings in customer satisfaction among food retailers.
A single source of data is the key to omnichannel success
These stellar examples of omnichannel marketing have a few things in common. They:
- Put the customer experience first
- Don’t discount the in-store aspect
- Are grounded in data
- Emphasize personalization
- Focus on finding ways to be helpful and fill a need
- Involve employee training at every level and across departments
Executing a successful omnichannel marketing strategy is easier said than done. It requires all teams to work together using a single view of the customer journey across all channels. Any silos in the data will “break” the experience, causing customer service disconnects that drive customers to churn.
Omnichannel marketing requires a deep understanding of customer behavior, informed by real data (not the marketing department’s best guess). That means you need a tool that can:
- Scale to ingest and analyze the volume of data being generated by your customers on a daily basis
- Segment your audience into micro-audiences to better fine-tune their messaging
- Answer complex questions on the fly and visualize your findings in real-time
- Keep all data in one, centralized location, preferably in-house
Scuba lets you do all of that and more. As a customer intelligence platform designed to unify customer experience management, Scuba empowers CX, BI, product, and data science teams to make real-time business decisions within a single view across all business silos.
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