It’s often said that digital experiences are increasingly replacing physical ones in our modern lives, as our various devices eat up our attention and our time. Increasingly still, though, those physical and digital experiences are becoming blurred, with technologies like augmented reality making the two seemingly indiscernible from one another.
In the marketing world, this seamless connection of the physical and the digital means that consumers are interacting with brands in an increasing number of ways – no longer is it enough to assume that an in-store and an online shopper are inherently different, for example, or that your social media followers and your email subscriber lists are separate entities.
No, in order to increase engagement and offer a more seamless interaction with your brand, it’s important to connect those seemingly disparate channels and offer what we refer to as an ‘omnichannel’ experience. But just what do we mean when we refer to omnichannel marketing, and why is it such an important part of any modern business strategy?
What Does ‘Omnichannel’ Mean?
Referred to by the consulting firm Frost & Sullivan as the “seamless and effortless, high-quality customer experiences that occur within and between contact channels”, an omnichannel experience is about integrating all customer touchpoints (physical and well as digital), meaning that customers enjoy a consistent and joined-up experience regardless of the channel through which they’re interacting with a brand; if they hop from one channel to another, the transition should feel seamless, effortless and logical.
What is Omnichannel Marketing?
Omnichannel marketing simply means that all of the channels through which you market to your customer base (from your in-store graphics to your website content and your social media posts) are aligned, resulting in a seamless experience across every step in the buyer’s journey. This works on the basis that each step in the journey (be it an in-store interaction or a website visit) is completely compatible with the last (both in terms of visuals and the overall user experience), creating a smooth transition between marketing channels and encouraging cross-platform conversions.
What Are the Benefits of Omnichannel Marketing?
Omnichannel customers could be up to 30% more valuable to your business than those who interact via a single channel, so omnichannel marketing is potentially a highly effective way of boosting revenue. However, there are multiple additional benefits to adopting an omnichannel strategy, including but not limited to:
An Improved Customer Experience
It’s often mistakenly assumed that the user experience relates specifically to a user’s interaction with a website or an app, but in fact, the UX (as it’s often shortened to) extends to every touchpoint in the user journey. Therefore, one of the key benefits of a joined-up approach is that it seeks to optimize the entire customer experience, focusing on the overall interaction a customer has with your brand. It’s important not to focus solely on one or two touchpoints, but think about the experience as a whole.
Better Customer Retention Rates
Businesses that engage their customers through multiple channels typically retain 89% of their customers, compared to just 33% of those that don’t, so a solid omnichannel marketing strategy will have a significant impact on retention. An omnichannel approach serves to encourage and increase engagement, which will in turn boost customer loyalty. If your brand is able to engage its customers through more than one channel, they’re less likely to take their business elsewhere, since you’re offering them a more immersive service.
Increased Access to Customer Data
When your customers are interacting with you via various channels and not just one, it’s easier to build up a fuller picture of their behavior through their interactions — and subsequently get a better understanding of their needs, expectations and pain points. That level of insight is vital, since it will only help you to further enhance the user experience by anticipating your customers’ behavior and offering relevant solutions.
How To Implement an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy
As the purpose of omnichannel marketing is to connect various disparate channels, it’s naturally a multi-step process which will take ample planning and a lot of time to implement. You can’t become omnichannel overnight, but you can least start with these essential factors:
Map the customer journey. The first step in any omnichannel strategy should be customer journey mapping. Consider all the potential entry and interaction points along the customer’s journey, and identify key touchpoints at which your channels might cross over. This exercise is essential in ensuring that a customer can freely move between your digital and physical channels; journey mapping tools like TheyDo enable you to create visual journey maps to measure and optimize engagement across platforms.
Provide cross-channel support. One of the most effective ways to enable omnichannel marketing is to provide seamless customer support across multiple platforms. Amazon Connect is a contact center service that operates via the public cloud through Amazon Web Services (AWS), and it integrates all customer communication channels into one platform. Cloud-based services are key enablers when it comes to omnichannel marketing, in more ways than one; not only do they facilitate cross-channel customer support, but cloud solutions that are dedicated to ecommerce hosting (Cloudways, for example) provide enhanced performance and scaling capabilities — ensuring the user experience is conducive to a seamless interaction across multiple devices.
Choose the right platforms. Of course, in order to seamlessly connect your marketing platforms, you’ll first need to decide which platforms will form the moving parts of your omnichannel marketing strategy. If you’re a bricks-and-mortar business, your store is an obvious one, as is your website. But social media is also an important marketing tool, and a significant part of an joined-up strategy. For example, you could create an Instagram shop to make it easy for your customers to buy products directly through their social media feeds.
It’s clear that an omnichannel marketing strategy is essential for businesses that want to engage and retain more customers. In a world where convenience is king and complete flexibility is expected, businesses that are not seamlessly connecting their various sales and marketing channels are likely to lose out to their more agile competitors.