A 2021 Guide to Omnichannel Customer Experience
Let’s start with an example you must have experienced yourself.
You visit the mobile website of an e-retailer. After browsing products for a few minutes, you add some to your shopping cart and wish list, then log off.
When you next browse social media, you see an ad with products from categories that have interested you. Checking your inbox on your laptop, you see an email reminding you of items in your shopping cart. You can even walk over to the physical location nearby and pick it up.
That, in a nutshell, is an omnichannel experience. It’s valuable not just for retailers but also for fintech, mobile apps, or any category that wants to keep up with changing consumer habits.
In this guide, we’ll explain why it matters and how you can create a winning omnichannel experience for your consumers.
There are six steps:
- What does an omnichannel strategy do?
- Why is it important for today’s consumers?
- How to create an omnichannel customer experience
- Best practices in omnichannel marketing
- The challenges to watch for
- Some successful omnichannel examples
With a proper omnichannel strategy, you can seamlessly guide your consumers from one touchpoint to the next as they move up the marketing funnel.
What Does An Omnichannel Strategy Do?
An omnichannel strategy unifies consumer experiences across channels. This could be social media, the mobile web, push notifications, and more. Sales, marketing, and service platforms are likewise connected.
Such alignment is the main difference between multichannel and omnichannel strategies. Multichannel strategies also use various platforms, but they don’t take the important step of seamlessly linking them together.
An omnichannel strategy can make a significant difference to customer convenience and conversions.
- Studies show that using three or more channels in an automated, linked manner got an 18.96% engagement rate, while the number for a single channel was just 5.4%.
- When interacting with three or more channels, customers bought 250% more frequently than customers who only engaged with only one channel.
- Customers who engaged with three or more channels were 90% more likely to come back for another purchase. Retention for these brands was 66.12%
An effective omnichannel strategy makes consumers not only purchase more but also purchase more over time. Research shows that 9 out of 10 consumers want omnichannel service, rather than interacting separately at each step.
Why Is it Important For Today’s Consumers?
Fifteen years ago, the average consumer used approximately two touchpoints when buying an item. Only 7% regularly used more than four. Today, consumers use almost six touchpoints. Nearly 50% regularly using more than four.
When it comes to purchases and being influenced, they get information from various platforms. Physical stores, online search, social media, apps, and more. The growing importance of the online world has only made such behavior stronger.
A Harvard Business Review study indicates that consumers who used more channels were worth more to a business. They spent an average of 4% more in physical stores and 10% more than online single-channel customers.
Customers now expect productive and personalized interactions. It makes sense for companies to deliver this. Be it retention, lifetime value, or valuable insights into the marketing funnel, an omnichannel approach pays off.
How to Create an Omnichannel Customer Experience
Generally speaking, there are five sequential steps involved in creating a satisfying omnichannel experience for the customer.
Research, strategy, and design
It begins with understanding the consumer. You should research their desired needs and understand not only what they’re looking for, but how they look for it. This consumer-focused vision should be shared with the entire marketing and sales team. Value propositions, as well as business goals, can be built around consumer segments. Then comes the process of designing your omnichannel universe. This involves planning service journeys and ensuring that end-to-end digital and live-contact experiences are matched.
After this, you need to identify consumer touchpoints. How do they interact with your brand? There could be those who prefer digital, those who balance between digital and offline, and a few who are primarily offline. All touchpoints need to be linked so that the consumer journey is uninterrupted.
Plot the funnel
As you know, a marketing funnel maps the behavior of the consumer from the time they first interact with your brand, up to purchase and loyalty. With a data-based knowledge of consumer behavior and an understanding of the touchpoints, you can use an omnichannel strategy to guide them onwards. Attention can be paid to how to plan bridges between interactions so that the consumer moves from step to step.
Use the right technology
Of course, technology and automation are vital to the process. The right digital tools will go a long way in ensuring integration. For example, a chatbot on your home page could request an email, and then the email strategy can take over to recommend an action, and a push notification can serve as a reminder. Enabling technology delivered through the right IT architecture is essential.
Study feedback and find gaps
Collecting and analyzing data is also vital. Information can be gathered through automated processes as well as through consumer feedback. Studying this will enable you to tweak your efforts. You can identify best-performing channels, understand the points where the consumer needs more interaction, and optimize efforts.
Some Best Practices in Omnichannel Marketing
There are certain techniques and methods that successful omnichannel marketers use for the best results. Understanding these will help you to do the same.
Emphasize mobile services
The latest mobile statistics show that 51 percent of internet users also use their mobile phones to purchase products online. Two out of every three (66 percent) say they use shopping apps on their mobile devices. Clearly, mobile cannot be ignored. Make your all webpages, emails, push notifications and the rest are optimized for mobile. Further, emphasis on offline customer service journeys such as service centers and helplines to integrate them into the consumer journey.
Leverage social media
In 2020, there were 3.96 billion people worldwide actively using social media, an increase of 10.9% year-on-year from 2019. The growth is phenomenal. Leverage this to turn it into a service and information tool. It is important to be topical, quick in responding, and to create ways for the consumer to go from the social media post to another channel. One Twitter study showed that customers who received prompt replies from airlines were more satisfied with their experience. They were more willing to recommend the airline, and willing to pay more money for a ticket for that airline in the future.
Don’t ignore text messages
Text messages have become so common these days that many companies overlook their usefulness. It can carry out a variety of needs, from linking to other sites to reminders to confirmation notices. Research shows that SMS open rates are as high as 98% and about 33% of marketers will prioritize mobile loyalty schemes and coupons in their plans for next year.
The Challenges to Watch For
Many times, change is hard because so many old practices are already firmly established. It’s the same with omnichannel marketing. Here are some challenges that can be faced:
Data boundaries: Often, individual departments collect and store data associated with their function. The point of an omnichannel strategy, however, is to combine and update all of this for the best consumer experience. Efforts should be made to overcome such silos.
Personalization across channels: Observing segmented consumer behavior and then providing engagement avenues across channels is at the heart of an omnichannel approach. All channels, therefore, should be rejigged to allow for such personalization.
A consistent approach: Unifying channels for a seamless approach also means that one approach should prevail. Care should be taken that one channel is not divergent from the other.
Quick response times: As we saw in the case of social media, quick response time is a real asset. The same speed should be observed across all channels, be it a helpline, an email, or a text message.
Some Successful Omnichannel Examples
- Sephora, a leading retail beauty chain, put consumer experience before all else. Their mobile app uses location-based marketing to recognize when a consumer is near the store, to entice them in. Make-up artists use iPads and other mobile devices with clients to showcase shades and styles until they find the perfect match. If you need a specific shade, it can be ordered and shipped via a mobile device. New products, video tutorials, and all the latest news and trends are delivered to consumers digitally as part of the Sephora experience.
- Kredivo, one of the fastest growing and the stickiest digital payment channels for e-commerce in Indonesia, realized that online shoppers today use at least two devices before they make a purchase. They wanted to stay with these users every step of the way. They implemented an omnichannel engagement strategy to engage and convert new users to get a 20% uplift in push notifications delivery as well as a 64% conversion rate for triggered emails.
- Starbucks uses an extremely effective omnichannel strategy. There is an app for information and ordering, and a newsletter to engage across touchpoints. They have a loyalty rewards scheme for more discounts and to make checkouts at a Starbucks even easier. The more the consumer engages, the more the rewards and incentives that are offered across channels.
For more practical and effective advice on how to put an omnichannel strategy into place, check out this free e-book. And watch a recording of a webinar on how to drive growth with omnichannel marketing.
- The more touchpoints you use, the more you can engage your consumer.
- It’s essential to research consumer behavior, and only then design a strategy.
- Personalization pays dividends.
- Feedback will reveal gaps in the funnel, and technology can help you to plug these.
Today, your consumer has access to more channels than ever before, every single day. Savvy marketers use and align all of these channels for a seamless experience across touchpoints. These make sure that the consumer is reached at the right time in the right place and with the right message. Step by step, this omnichannel experience will guide them up the funnel until loyalty is created.
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