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Omnichannel Marketing
12 min

How to Create a Robust Omnichannel Strategy in 2021

Omnichannel – the latest trend that is taking every industry by storm. Almost everyone has heard about it, read about it, and probably even considered it at some point. However, how can one make this vague entity a reality? The answer is simple – through a well-thought-out omnichannel strategy. And how does one go about it? Well, you are looking right at the solution! Here is an elaborate guide for building an omnichannel strategy that lasts, fetches you long-term results, and propels your business to the next level!

Let’s get started.

Why Should You Create an Omnichannel Strategy?

omni-channel marketing infograph

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Given the hype surrounding omnichannel marketing, one may wonder whether it is just a buzzword or a sustainable marketing solution. If you find yourself at this crossroads and are contemplating whether or not the omnichannel approach is worth the effort, here are a few findings from a Harvard Business Review survey that will lend you direction:

  • Buyers were massive fans of omnichannel marketing as it allowed them to derive value from every touchpoint. About 73% of respondents in the survey were tagged as “omnichannel shoppers” as they shopped over multiple channels. 
  • Retailers leveraging an immersive omnichannel strategy saw a cart value increase of 4% for in-store shopping and 10% for websites.
  • It was also found that spending was directly proportional to the number of marketing channels. For instance, engaging customers over 4+ channels drew 9% more in-store spending in comparison with single-channel marketing.
  • Shoppers who researched a brand online were more likely to spend 13% at the brick-and-mortar store.
  • Omnichannel marketing instills customer loyalty as shoppers log in 23% more for repeat shopping trips.

And Harvard Business Review is not the only market watchdog holding omnichannel marketing in high opinion. Business Insider has also studied the ongoing trends to discover that nearly 49% of buyers are more likely to make a purchase once a week or more if brands engage with them over ten or more channels!

Clearly, the scales are tipping strongly in favor of omnichannel as it boosts ROI. As such, modern businesses must cotton on to the fact that developing an omnichannel strategy is the need of the hour.

Omnichannel User Experience: A Quick Overview

Without going into the basics, here is a quick look at what an omnichannel marketing strategy would look like:

  • A social media user comes across a product while casually scrolling through the platform online.
  • Upon clicking on the ad, they are redirected to the website’s landing page, which contains product details, delivery details, ratings, and reviews.
  • They add the item to the cart but get distracted before they make the payment or place the order.
  • A couple of days later, they receive an email reminding them of the item in the cart. The store offers them an incentive such as free shipping or a discount to encourage them to complete the purchase.
  • The offer seems attractive, so the user goes ahead and completes the order placement process. For delivery, they choose the in-store pickup option. The website also proposes that the buyer download their mobile app to gain real-time updates on their order status.
  • The buyer picks up the item from the physical store.
  • After a few weeks, the store advertises similar or related products either on the user’s social media feed or through push notifications, or over other digital platforms.
  • After another few weeks, the website ropes in the buyer by requesting them to share their feedback or leave a review/rating on their purchase.

As one can see from above, omnichannel marketing involves the perfect hand-off between each channel to orchestrate a uniform brand experience. 

And what are these channels?

When it comes to omnichannel marketing, businesses typically involve:

  • Text Messaging – Text messaging is typically used for sending reminders, promotional messaging, shipping and delivery updates, customer complaint updates, etc. It may seem outdated but it continues to hold relevance in several industries.
  • Email – Businesses send emails for sharing updates, engaging audiences through newsletters, informing about deals and promos, sharing shipping and delivery updates, customer care chat records, etc. Year over year, they have proven their usability and efficacy in maintaining communications in the B2B and B2C omnichannel experience.
  • Push Notifications – Web and mobile push notifications are poised as a crucial tipping point for a business to gain traction. They can use them to increase engagement levels, take behavior-triggered actions, improve sales, and reduce churn – all at the same time. There are several ways in which businesses across various industries can harness the power of push notifications.
  • In-App Messaging – In-app messaging displays within the app and is used for sharing information on app features, helping users sign up or make a purchase, announcing deals, offering coupons, sharing updates, etc. It overcomes the only drawback of push notifications, that is, a user cannot disable them.
  • Social Media – Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter help businesses to connect with their target audiences. They may use it to run ads, hold contests, resolve customer queries, capture feedback, and more.
  • Live Chat – Live chat completes the feedback loop and offers instant customer support – both of which can help improve services. Modern-day chat sessions are handled by AI or ML-driven chatbots, which are highly effective in resolving queries, upselling and cross-selling products, and more. You can set up live chat on your website or deploy it over existing instant messaging solutions such as Messenger or WhatsApp.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Omnichannel Strategy

From a customer’s point of view, omnichannel marketing offers a seamless user experience, which improves the customer journey. However, from a marketer’s point of view, it may seem like a nightmare to handle the multiple channels and strategies.

So how can you achieve such a mammoth task? Let’s take a look:

1. Explore Platforms Where Your Audience Exists

When building a robust omnichannel strategy, the first step is identifying the platforms, channels, and devices that your existing customers use daily. You will also have to gain insights into how they interact with them, their preferences, their experiences, and their pain points. 

the most effective marketing channels

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Analyzing your existing customer base takes away all the guesswork otherwise involved in the omnichannel approach. Google Analytics is a powerful tool that can be a jumping-off point to collect existing user data. The acquisition reports point towards the multi-channel funnels that are attracting customers. This information can act as a baseline upon which you can start building and refining your omnichannel strategy by focusing on the most important touchpoints.

2. Create a Buyer Persona

While keeping a close eye on your existing customers, you also need to consider the future ones. So before you start a blanket outreach campaign, you need first to identify the prospective clients to make your omnichannel marketing strategy more effective. 

And you can achieve this goal by drawing out a detailed customer identity. An ideal buyer persona should typically contain features like demographics, customer behavior, buying habits, preferred mode of communication, and any other preferences. At the same time, you need to dive in deeper and dig out even the minutest of details such as their purchase frequency, mode of purchase, payment, traffic source, channel, and device, etc. The motive is to map out a detailed customer journey. 

buyer persona profile

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On that note, while making the target audience profile granular, do not overlook tangible and realizable potential amongst other possible buyers. If necessary, create several buyer personas based on multiple variables to build a set of diverse and inclusive buyer personas.

The best way to enact this phase is by getting your entire sales and marketing together to brainstorm as you put yourself in your customer’s shoes. All in all, you need to imagine online and offline clients with the highest customer lifetime value (CLV) and list down all the common characteristics.

3. Conduct Audience Segmentation

Now that you have a detailed understanding of your target audience, along with their likes and dislikes, it is time to categorize them into groups. This stage is particularly useful for when you offer a plethora of products and services, requiring you to uncover who is buying what. Plus, considering that a whopping 74% of customers get frustrated when they receive irrelevant content, segmenting your audience is an effective way to personalize your marketing, sales, and services.

personalizing your customer segments

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Most CRM and omnichannel marketing automation solutions can carry out rule-based customer segmentation based on the personas that you create. Typically, businesses carry out segmentation on the basis of gender, geography, previous purchase or interests, customer loyalty, previous engagement levels, etc. You can even customize the existing personas and augment them with other factors to expand on them. Segmentation and automation allow you to set up an event or behavior-based triggers.

4. Map Your Customer Journey

By now, you have carried out the groundwork for directing your customers towards the most relevant funnel depending on their preferences. Now is the part where you mobilize the user experience from start to finish through customer journey mapping. You need to trace the multi-channel journey, be it online and offline, to identify the key touchpoints and find ways to streamline and enhance them.

Do bear in mind that the omnichannel approach includes multiple journeys in a single campaign. Hence, you will have to knit them all together in real-time to avoid any gaps, goof-ups, or awkward encounters.

mapping your customer journey

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Position yourself as a certain customer from any of your personas. Then start from the awareness phase and walk through the process right until advocacy. What are the issues that you face? How can you improve this journey? What is the value-addition of each touchpoint? Note down these observations and find ways to improve upon them.

5. Assign Priorities to Channels and Devices

Even though you follow a multi-channel approach, it is a fact that not all channels are created equally. In fact, you may have seen above that omnichannel strategies encompass an array of channels ranging from text messages to push notifications. As such, an effective omnichannel strategy dictates that businesses need to prioritize channels and devices that their customers prefer. It only makes sense to invest in ripe avenues as it boosts engagement and user experience, thereby increasing profitability.

For example, if you notice that your loyal customers have a preference for marketing emails or push notifications, then trying to connect with them over text messages will only waste your time, money, and resources. And who knows, such botheration may attract negative customer sentiment?

most active social media platforms in the U.S.

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So, the first line of action is to establish a strong presence on all channels, online and offline, where your customers reside. Next, you need to employ techniques like social listening or marketing analytics to discover what works and what doesn’t. You may even carry out surveys or request feedback to comprehend user preferences. Finally, assign priorities to channels and devices based on the responses and inputs.

6. Carry Out Seamless Integration of All Channels

The stage is set: you have refined your multi-channel strategy by shortlisting your preferred channels and devices, and now it is time to tie them all together.

channel integration and systems

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This stage is singularly the toughest part of adopting an omnichannel approach as you need to connect all the online and offline touchpoints. The seamless integration of the various channels forms the backbone of the omnichannel strategy, and failure to do so will have catastrophic repercussions as everything comes apart. 

Here is where you need to get all hands on deck and persevere through the challenges. Naturally, you will also have to deploy the right set of technologies to facilitate this process. Uniting all channels involves tracking your customer and their shopping experience across every touchpoint and connecting it with others.

From reading about your store online to visiting the physical store to making a purchase over your mobile app – regardless of the order of such events, you will have to ensure that the user experience remains uniform throughout.

7. Enhance Customer Support

More than 50% of customers will abandon a brand due to poor customer service. This statistic points to the fact that customer support is an integral part of an omnichannel strategy. However, businesses are so busy embracing the omnichannel approach through sales, advertising, or marketing that they tend to overlook this element.

 

What Defines a Good Omni-Channel Customer Experience?

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Just like you need to integrate the communication channels, you also need the seamless integration of cross-channel customer support. It effectively means that regardless of the platform through which your customers initiate a conversation with your brand, the user experience must remain the same throughout.

8. Measure Your Performance

While defining your omnichannel strategy, it is vital that you define the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that correspond to the success of the strategy. But with several communication channels in the mix, it can be tough to analyze them and compare their results. For this purpose, you may require tools to analyze all the cross-channel data. Pay close attention to the reports and analytical data as they will show you which way your campaign is heading.

omnichannel KPIs

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Plus, simply measuring the efficacy is not enough. Your omnichannel strategy must also be agile and be on the path of continuous growth and continuous development. Address every issue that comes your way and innovate to overcome it. Such a mindset will only make your omnichannel strategy stronger.

Tips and Best Practices for Developing an Omnichannel Strategy

Here are a few tips and best practices for developing an omnichannel strategy that is infallible:

  • First and foremost, if you haven’t done it yet, build a mobile-friendly website. You can even take it one step further by developing a native mobile app. Mobile is the future of omnichannel; learn how to master it here.
  • Invest heavily (and wisely) into your tech stack.
  • Capitalize every opportunity that you have to make sales by making every touchpoint shoppable.
  • While using social media, exploit shoppable posts.
  • Design your content around the customer journey to grant each customer individual attention and to personalize as much as possible.
  • Find what works best for each platform (say, images for Instagram) and shape and reshape your content to meet the marketing channel.
  • To earn customer trust and credibility, treat customer data as sacred and protect it at any cost.
  • Carry out frequent testing to understand your customers better and to see what works in your favor. Want to know testing affects your performance and result? Read this.

Examples of Brands Executing Top-Notch Omnichannel Marketing Strategies

The following few well-known brands that tap into the power of a terrific omnichannel strategy to achieve various organizational goals. Use these examples to inspire you as you follow suit:

1. Disney

Disney is a stellar example of an omnichannel strategy done right. 

For starters, the Disney website is highly responsive, irrespective of your device. The website delivers improved accessibility as all the features and functions are operational on mobile devices as well as desktops.

After booking, you can explore the My Disney Experience tool that allows users to get into the smallest details while planning their trip. And while you are at the park, you can use the mobile app to guide you to the nearest attractions. In fact, the mobile app even updates the user on the estimated wait time and other valuable stuff.

The Disney Magic Band is an all-in-one tool that can serve as a hotel key, storage device, or medium to order food!

Disney Magic Band using omnichannel marketing

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It is evident that the online and offline strategies all come together into a melting pot of memorable customer experiences. No wonder it is called the happiest place on earth!

2. Starbucks

Starbucks has always been a future-forward company with a focus on advancement through technology. In case you didn’t know this, the coffeehouse and roastery chain released a dedicated mobile app back in 2009! Hence, it should come as no surprise that it has been nailing its omnichannel strategy ever since.

Starbucks rewards program

Other features include referrals, store locators, and online ordering. And the best part? The seamless integration of the shopping experience!The Starbucks rewards app is the Swiss Army knife of all apps dedicated to coffee lovers. Loyal customers can earn points and reward cards for every purchase that they make. Plus, they can redeem or reload the card either at the physical store or over any online platform, be it desktop or mobile. The changes in the balance reflect in real-time and across all channels, and the same applies to your profile as well.

3. Timberland

No one does online and offline integration better than Timberland.

The company’s physical stores leverage Near-Field Communication technology (NFC) to offer a connected user experience to their clients. The technology makes use of special chips that interact with the mobile device to transmit information and carry out a diverse range of actions, such as payments. 

Timberland's NFC Technology - Omnichannel marketing strategy

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Timberland’s brick-and-mortar stores carry tablets that users can press against product signage. In response, the device fetches product information, along with the ongoing deals and promos applicable over it. Resultantly, you can gain information on the product without depending on the store clerks!

The device enhances the shopping experience as it learns user preferences to make personalized recommendations. Such an immersive experience is bound to nurture customer loyalty.

If this interests you, we have another blog that takes an in-depth look at brands that excel at omnichannel marketing.

Final Thoughts

In a 2020 survey by BigCommerce and Retail Dive, about 46% of retailers admitted that they planned on boosting their investment into developing an omnichannel presence. These numbers would have increased by many folds in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. So if you want to stay ahead of the race, building an omnichannel strategy is the way to go!

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