Did you know that Americans use an overage of 4.3 devices throughout the day? And 70 percent of that device usage is on smartphones.
You might think that as a marketer or designer that, that information doesn’t make that large of an impact on your work, but you’d be wrong. Ensuring the mobile and desktop experience consumers have with your brand is a good one is vital to business success and growth — now more than ever.
It matters what your apps look like. It matters what your mobile web pages look like. And it matters that consumers have the same experience regardless of what medium they are using to get in contact with you — whether that’s through an in-app purchase, and online query or a face-to-face interaction at your store.
Marketing is changing, from a process that’s one-size-fits-all to one that is one-on-one and extremely personalized. Marketers need to be in constant contact with their audience, creating a solid presence on social media and creating experiences across all devices that let consumers know that your brand is there for them.
But what is this seamless integration called? The world has a new phrase for it — omnichannel marketing.
What Is Omnichannel Marketing?
Omnichannel marketing is the process of creating a fully integrated, cross-channel marketing strategy. Whether on a mobile app, on a tablet, on a desktop website or inside a store itself — consumers should be able to have the same interactions, get the same information and complete the same transactions.
It’s the seamless and fluid experience a consumer is welcomed with when a brand is able to provide consistent, interactive and engaging content and opportunities across a variety of mediums so that the consumer always has the same, happy shopping experience.
People don’t have time to waste, and they certainly don’t have time to start from scratch every time they decide to interact with a brand or customer service department. Eighty-nine percent of customers get frustrated when they have to reiterate a problem or concern they have more than once.
John Bowden, Senior VP of Customer Care at Time Warner Cable describes the process of creating the omnichannel strategy and why it’s vital for the future:
Multi-channel is an operational view – how you allow the customer to complete transactions in each channel. Omni-channel, however, is viewing the experience through the eyes of your customer, orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent. Omni-channel anticipates that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution. Making these complex ‘hand-offs’ between channels must be fluid for the customer. Simply put, omni-channel is multi-channel done right!
With a growing number of people jumping from device to device while making a purchase an interacting with a brand, it’s vital your business can ensure they can jump around and still be able to continue the same process in a fluid and organic way.
Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Marketing
You might occasionally hear the words omnichannel and multichannel used interchangeably, but the two mean very different things and offer two very different experiences for your consumers. The discrepancies arrive in part because the focus of each strategy is similar, yet slightly different. But there is also confusion due to the constantly evolving nature of our technological world and the habits we as consumer begin to adopt when we have a mass amount of information and opportunities at our fingertips.
Multichannel is in reference to the direct experiences between brand and consumer. Think marketing campaigns, product promotions coupons and the like. A multichannel strategy dedicates time, resources, budget and planning to each medium and channel as its own entity.
The goal behind multichannel marketing is to make each platform ideal for the targeted sector of a brand’s audience. It’s about making the in-app experience the best it could be as a stand-alone experience separate from an in-store or online experience.
With omnichannel strategizing, your treating all mediums and channels as one entity that provides the same experience whether on your smartphone, your tablet or your desktop computer.
The world is moving more towards omnichannel marketing, but that doesn’t mean that multichannel doesn’t still play a very important role.
Why An Omnichannel Marketing Strategy Is Important
It’s imperative that brands begin implementing omnichannel marketing strategies into their marketing plans because consumers are looking for a more personal, streamlined experience — both from a design aspect and from an e-commerce aspect.
Research shows that a consumer’s path to purchases starts in a variety of places, and goes through many phases before the purchase is finally made. More often than not, consumers begin their search on one device and finish it on another, therefore businesses need to get onboard the omnichannel marketing bandwagon or lose out on valuable business.
For example, customers often begin a purchase and fill their online carts on their phones before moving to their laptop or desktop devices to finish the process. To ensure your users are happy and pleased with the process as a whole, you need to ensure that they don’t feel jarred or confused when trying to complete the initial task. Items should remain in the cart across devices and accounts, for starters. And there should be helpful reminders and emails sent out to push people back to your brand’s website, app or store.
Organizations with omnichannel marketing and customer engagement strategies retain 89 percent of their customers throughout the cycle compared to the 33 percent retention rate of customers who aren’t utilizing these comprehensive plans.
Customers want you to make their lives easier. They won’t stick around and make a purchase if the process is causing more stress than the worth your product or service can provide. So you have to make the process worth it for them.
Not only do omnichannel strategies keep audiences more engaged and push them to buy, but they also make customers spend more. A Deloitte Annual Holiday Survey found that customers of companies with a fully integrated omnichannel marketing strategy spent on average 208 percent more than customers making purchases at non-omnichannel marketing strategy-implementing companies.
These eye-opening figures are likely a response to the wide variety of content made available to them on the varying platforms, the consistent and coherent app to laptop to the in-store experience, as well as the customer feedback available for prospective customers to access.
And consumers are demanding this fluidity and consistency, with 87 percent of consumers saying that brands need to make more of an effort when it comes to providing consistency throughout their digital experience.
5 Omnichannel Marketing Tactics To Give Your Business A Boost
Securing yourself and your brand as leaders and advocates for an omnichannel marketing experience is vital for showing consumers that you care. And companies are ready to make these changes, with 85 percent of retailers citing switching to a more cohesive omnichannel strategy system a major priority in coming years.
If you’re just getting started and looking for a way to formulate this place for simple and easy integration, start with these 5 tactics.
1. Know Your Audience
Before you can create your omnichannel marketing strategy, you have to understand your audience and the customer journey they are going to embark on. You need to know what motivates them. You need to know where they are coming from and why. You need to understand the information they are seeking out and the questions they have.
Gathering this data is vital for creating a seamless experience across multiple channels.
To get this data, utilize resources like Google Analytics and do some consumer research to understand the demographics of your audience. Content isn’t one-size-fits-all anymore and your marketing strategy can’t be either.
To really get a feel for what your audience might want, give your own platforms a try. Take a walk in your customers’ shoes and see how seamless and integrated the experience is. This can help give you a better understanding of how to cater the experience to them in a more cohesive and enjoyable way.
An example of a successful brand utilizing an omnichannel marketing strategy at max capacity is Starbucks. The coffee giant offers users a rewards app that they are able to use to make purchases online, in-app and in-stores. The process is simple and efficient, with users able to add money, collect stars pre-order drinks with a few taps of their finger.
Starbucks provides its customers with an immersive and engaging experience through its loyalty app, and communication and consistency are clearly visible at all steps of the buyer’s journey.
Starbucks knew what its audience wanted — their favorite drinks, fast and all in one place. And this app gives them that experiences. It also provides an abundance of information and ways to engage with the brand itself.
Once signed up, members will receive emails, alerts and notifications. They can access extra stars if they complete certain challenges that are all tailor-made to the individual whose app it is.
Starbucks isn’t holding back with its omnichannel strategies.
2. Ensure Constant Communication -- Internally And Externally
Communication with your audience is vital, but when it comes to creating a singular, unified experience, internal communication is also extremely important.
There are a lot of moving parts within an omnichannel strategy. Teams have to work together to ensure content is consistent and on brand. Departments have to ensure that experiences are seamless and flow from one to the other with ease and without confusion.
Content marketers have to work with the social media team. Web designers need to work with sales representatives. Customer service teams need to work with digital marketers.
With all of these teams and all of these voices, constant communication is vital to make sure that everything is running smoothly -- like a well-oiled machine.
Similarly, as I've already pointed out, communication with your audience is also an essential factor in creating and sustaining a successful omnichannel marketing strategy.
You need to constantly be listening to your audience and asking for feedback. You need to make sure you're giving them the experience that best fits them and you need to be able to answer any questions that might come up along the buyer's journey.
Communication can make or break a marketing strategy. If you can't keep content or web experiences consistent, and you can't give your audience what they're asking for, they'll go somewhere else.
Ulta does a fantastic job engaging with their audiences and keeping the machine beyond the curtain moving smoothly.
Ulta prioritized omnichannel strategies, and one of their first investments was in connecting its internal teams to create one cohesive unit. They wanted their consumers to have one singular experience so they became a singular entity that worked to transfer their cohesiveness across platforms.
According to Ulta Senior Director Jeffrey Hamm:
The various teams within the Ulta organization are connected and constantly in communication. It’s one experience for the guest, no matter the department, whether it is a supply chain problem, inventory problem, merchandising problem. And it’s that collaboration between teams that helps to get omni-channel projects green lighted, budgeted and executed.
3. Create Web And App Design Experiences That Are Responsive And Seamless
Responsiveness in web design and mobile app design is imperative in this day and age. More people are using smartphones and tablets to absorb content and to engage with brands, so the experiences need to be seamless and engaging.
People don't want to interact with websites that take too long to load or don't display well on their phones. If they do, they're already exiting out and finding another place to shop.
Therefore, it's up to you and your design team to create web and app designs that amaze, inspire and enlighten.
The more engaging, the better. The more information in the easiest digestible way the better. The brighter the colors, the cooler the typography and the easier to navigate? You guessed it, it's better.
Responsive designs have been a growing trend for years now with online usage moving to mobile devices. And when it comes to creating an omnichannel marketing strategy, this is even more important.
All platforms and mediums need designs that flow effortlessly. Consumers don't have time to figure out an app's navigation or pick up on their desktop where they left off on their device.
Creating responsive designs can make this process smoother.
Nordstrom is a brand that is taking charge in the design department, with an app and web experience that provides their audience with all the information they could want in one easy-to-find place.
They created their content for real people, with features that were engaging for their target audience. Nordstrom put the experience of their audience first and ensured that regardless of where or how they were interacting, that they'd enjoy the ride.
4. Create Consistent And Valuable Content
It's important to remember the importance of good content. Don't skimp out on messaging in favor of fluid designs or quality customer service. You still need to inform your readers with valuable information.
Keep track of how audiences are interacting, what questions they're asking and what drives them to your organization. And promote those areas of content.
Give your audience a reason to come back. Create case studies and use cases. Include customer feedback and reviews. Sent out updates and notifications about changes and exciting plans.
You want to keep your audience engaged and excited about your brand.
You also want to be consistent -- you don't want consumers reading one thing on your website in one tone, and getting something completely different in your app. Stay consistent with your brand, your voice and your message to ensure your audience doesn't feel like they are getting a different experience depending on how they interact with you.
For retailer REI, creating engaging impactful and insightful content was key to encouraging people in-store to make a purchase based on the content they found on their phones.
Becuase their strategy was cross-channel and seamless, customers were able to get access to the content and information that was pertinent to their purchase with ease and without frustration.
Without it, it's likely a portion of these customers would have left empty-handed and unsatisfied.
5. Collect Data And Measure Your Progress
“It’s important to leverage data the same way, whether it’s a strategic or tactical issue: Have a vision for what you are trying to do. Use data to validate and help you navigate that vision, and map it down into small enough pieces where you can begin to execute in a data-informed way. Don’t let shallow analysis of data that happens to be cheap/easy/fast to collect nudge you off-course in your entrepreneurial pursuits.” -- Andrew Chen, Head of Rider Growth at Uber
Data is everywhere, and data is powerful. You need to use data to see what's working and what's not. You need to test and test again to ensure you're giving your audience the experience that's best for them, the experience that will push them to complete your call to action.
Using analytical tools to track campaigns, social media engagement and traffic can give you a better idea of how to interact with your audience, and how they're interacting with you.
If one medium is overpowering the other, it might be worth the investment to find out why -- is it because the overall user experience is lacking on other mediums, or is it because of normal fluctuations and trends in the market?
If you don't take the time to collect this data and measure your success, you'll never know. And if you never know, how can you expect to achieve success?
Warby Parker is a prime example of a brand that is building up their omnichannel strategy on a data-driven backbone. They use data generated from in-app, online and in-store sales and interactions to better equip themselves and their technology for the future.
Warby Parker used the data collected from these engagements to make decisions -- like where to advertise, where to open storefronts, and what information to include in certain parts of their website. Seventy-five percent of their audience was found to browse the website for information before making a purchase, so the company made that search easier across all mediums and platforms.
Omnichannel Marketing Tactics And The Future
The future is increasingly becoming mobile-first, with 77 percent of users saying they go online every day. 26 percent of users say they are online constantly, so user experience, quality content and seamless encounters with brands are important.
Omnichannel is not just a multichannel marketing strategy. It’s not just about having dynamic app experiences or responsive mobile web designs. It’s about creating a singular experience across a cornucopia of mediums and interactions.
Users want an omnichannel experience, in fact, they’ll likely not do business with your brand otherwise. But to get started, you need to keep these tactics and techniques in mind — otherwise, your strategy just won’t make the cut:
You have to know your audience, understand their wants and provide them the experience that’s right for them.
You have to ensure that internal communication — between the marketing department, web team and customer service reps — is consistent, clear and constant.
You need to ensure that your mobile experiences are responsive and engaging and that they can easily be resumed on a variety of mediums.
You need to make sure your content is consistent and that it provides value to your customers whether they’re on your app, on your mobile site, or at a storefront.
You need to keep collecting data and learn from it — find out what aspects of your website or app users are engaging with most. Take their questions and provide them with easy and efficient answers.
Omnichannel solutions have to give you and your team a headache. And the worth will pay off in the long run. Get started with these tactics today and you’ll see positive customer reviews, and profits, start rolling in.