Omnichannel Marketing – Setting the Foundation for Scale

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CEOs and marketers are always asking the crucial question: what should we do to improve sales and revenue? The typical answers involve leveraging various channels to target customers, drive traffic, and boost conversions. The tactics that are then ideated often lack the foundation of a truly symbiotic marketing strategy since they tend to focus on the symptoms that impact revenue vs treating the disease. It’s time to helicopter up and look at growth holistically. Enter omnichannel marketing – the foundational approach that transforms how businesses connect with customers and drive sustainable growth.

What is Omnichannel Marketing?

A holistic, data-driven approach to aligning marketing, sales, and customer experience strategies to unlock the full potential of customer relationships and drive sustainable business growth. By focusing on the entire customer journey, leveraging insights to make informed decisions, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, companies can create a seamless, personalized experience that maximizes customer lifetime value and propels long-term success.

– Omnichannel Marketing

At its core, omnichannel marketing is a customer-centric approach that seamlessly integrates multiple touchpoints and channels to provide a unified, personalized experience throughout the customer journey. Unlike multichannel marketing, which relies on siloed strategies for each channel, omnichannel creates a cohesive ecosystem that adapts to customer preferences and behaviors.

Why Omnichannel Marketing Matters

In today’s hyper-competitive landscape, customers crave the freedom to choose their own adventure. They’re tired of being forced down rigid funnels and want answers and/or solutions to their nagging problems without needing to jump through hoops. Consider these statistics:

  • 79% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments, yet 55% say it generally feels like they’re communicating with separate departments rather than one company.
  • 56% of customers say they often have to repeat or re-explain information to different representations. (Salesforce)
  • Companies with omnichannel strategies retain 89% of customers on average, vs. 33% for those without (Invesp)
  • Omni-channel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than single-channel shoppers (Persuasion Nation, Google)

Omni-channel marketing matters because it puts customers in the driver’s seat while empowering businesses to build lasting relationships and drive revenue growth.

How Omnichannel Marketing Differs from Multichannel Marketing

While both approaches involve multiple channels, there are key differences:

  • Multichannel focuses on multiple customer avatars independently; omnichannel supports multiple stakeholders within an ideal customer profile cohesively.
  • Multichannel tends to silo sales, marketing, and customer service; omnichannel integrates them for a unified experience.
  • Multichannel is constrained and product-focused; omnichannel is adaptable and solution-oriented.
  • Multichannel strategies are rigid and static; omnichannel is dynamic and personalized.
  • Multichannel marketing uses multiple channels to engage customers, but each channel operates independently with its own strategy and goals. There’s little to no integration between them. Omni-channel marketing also uses multiple channels, but they’re orchestrated to work together seamlessly, supporting a cohesive customer journey. With omni-channel, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Multichannel tends to be channel-centric, letting the channel dictate the approach. Omni-channel is customer-centric, putting customer needs and preferences at the forefront.
  • Multichannel often relies on one-size-fits-all content pushed out across channels. Omni-channel tailors content for each channel and stage of the customer journey.

So while multichannel and omni-channel both leverage multiple channels, the strategy behind them is fundamentally different. True omni-channel is still rare, but it’s increasingly becoming a strategic differentiator that helps to eliminate disjointed experiences for customers across brand touchpoints.

A popular example of a disjointed multichannel experience that I see a lot of, is in ecommerce. I hate it when a customer has to use separate logins to engage with a company. One to place an order and then another one to submit a support ticket in order to get help with a problem. Omni-channel eliminates those frustrations by connecting the dots behind the scenes with technology and training so that customers can ask for help anywhere that the brand exists, and can receive the support that they need without friction.

Heck, a customer can leave a comment on a social media post that they need help, and within minutes, the customer can receive an email or phone call proactively asking how their team can answer their question or solve their problem. I’ve had that happen. I was complaining about Lucidchart and their billing on someone’s LinkedIn post, and within 30 minutes, I had an email from an account manager who had escalated the issue and helped me reduce my licenses when the other representative hadn’t.

How to Implement an Omnichannel Strategy

Ready to embark on your omni-channel journey? Here’s a roadmap:

  1. Map the customer journey. Understand your customers’ “Zero Moment of Truth” – what triggers their search for a solution, what options they consider, and why they choose one over another. Conduct interviews and analyze data to map touchpoints and decision stages.
  2. Choose your channels wisely. Focus on the channels where your customers research and make decisions, whether that’s your website, social media, review sites, or even dark social communities. Don’t spread yourself thin – prioritize based on your customer insights.
  3. Create connected content experiences. Develop content that addresses the needs of all stakeholders involved in the buying process – from the end-user to the decision-maker. Ensure consistency across channels while tailoring messages for each touchpoint.
  4. Integrate your tech stack. Omni-channel relies on a unified view of the customer. Invest in technologies like customer data platforms and marketing automation that can sync data across systems and power personalized experiences.
  5. Break down silos. Foster collaboration between marketing, sales, and service teams. Establish common goals and metrics, and empower teams to share insights that can enhance the customer experience.
  6. Measure and optimize. Track key metrics like customer lifetime value, churn rates, and cross-channel engagement. Use these insights to continuously refine your strategy and tactics.

Real-World Examples

To bring omnichannel to life, let’s look at two brands getting it right:

  • Starbucks: The coffee giant’s Rewards app allows customers to order ahead, pay, earn points, and access personalized offers seamlessly across in-store and digital channels. The result? Starbucks Rewards membership has grown 25% over the past two years.
  • Sephora: The beauty retailer’s app lets customers virtually try on products, access personalized recommendations, and book in-store services. In-store associates use digital tools to pull up customer profiles and provide tailored guidance. These efforts have helped Sephora achieve a remarkable feat: over 80% of its customers now engage with the brand across multiple channels.
  • Warby Parker: A direct-to-consumer eyewear brand, has built its success on a seamless omni-channel experience. One of the key components of their strategy is the Home Try-On program, which allows customers to select up to five frames online and have them shipped to their homes for free to try on. This innovative approach removes the barriers to purchasing eyewear online and provides a convenient, risk-free way for customers to find the perfect frames. In addition to the Home Try-On program, customers can also complete their purchase online or visit a physical store for a personalized fitting. Warby Parker ensures a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints, from the website to the packaging, reinforcing its stylish, modern aesthetic. The company also provides integrated customer service, allowing customers to receive support through multiple channels, including phone, email, and social media. As a result of its omni-channel approach, Warby Parker has achieved rapid growth and market disruption in the eyewear industry, along with high customer satisfaction and repeat purchase rates. The company has also successfully expanded into physical retail locations, further strengthening its omni-channel presence.
  • Bonobos: A men’s clothing retailer, has differentiated itself in a crowded market by adopting an omnichannel approach. Central to their strategy are Guideshops, physical locations where customers can try on clothes and receive styling advice from knowledgeable associates. However, unlike traditional retail stores, purchases are not completed in the Guideshops. Instead, orders are placed online and shipped directly to the customer’s home, providing a unique and convenient shopping experience. Bonobos also leverages data to provide personalized online recommendations based on a customer’s past purchases and preferences, helping them discover new items that align with their style. Across all channels, Bonobos maintains a friendly, approachable brand voice, reinforcing its identity and creating a consistent experience for customers. The company also offers easy returns and exchanges, allowing customers to return or exchange items free of charge, either online or in a Guideshop. This commitment to customer satisfaction has resulted in strong customer loyalty, increased word-of-mouth referrals, higher average order values, and greater lifetime customer value for Bonobos. The success of its omni-channel approach also led to the company’s acquisition by Walmart, enabling further growth and expansion.

While omnichannel marketing isn’t new, many companies have gravitated towards multichannel strategies, perceiving them as easier to execute. However, as businesses scale, the limitations of siloed multichannel approaches become evident. Omni-channel marketing requires a more significant upfront investment in planning and infrastructure, but the long-term benefits of a seamless customer experience are well worth the effort.

Some specific challenges to consider when implementing an omnichannel strategy include:

  • Ensuring consistency: With multiple touchpoints, maintaining a consistent brand voice, visual identity, and messaging across channels is crucial. Establish clear guidelines and empower teams to collaborate closely.
  • Integrating offline and online: Omni-channel encompasses both digital and physical channels. Bridging the gap between in-store and online experiences can be complex, but it’s essential for a truly seamless journey. Invest in technologies like mobile apps, geolocation, and interactive displays to blend the two worlds.
  • Balancing personalization and privacy: Personalization is a key driver of omni-channel success, but it relies on collecting and leveraging customer data. Be transparent about data practices, give customers control over their information and always prioritize privacy and security.

The Future is Omnichannel

While omni-channel marketing has been around for some time, its importance has never been greater. As customer expectations continue to rise and technology advances, businesses that invest in omnichannel strategies will be well-positioned to build lasting relationships, drive revenue growth, and establish a strong competitive advantage.

However, omni-channel is not a “set it and forget it” approach. It requires ongoing optimization, innovation, and a deep commitment to customer-centricity. By continuously gathering insights, testing new ideas, and adapting to changing preferences, businesses can unlock the full potential of omnichannel marketing.

For CEOs and marketers, embracing an omni-channel mindset is no longer optional – it’s a strategic imperative. By breaking down silos, harnessing data, and putting the customer at the heart of every decision, businesses can chart a course towards sustainable growth and long-term success. The time to act is now.