What Is Omnichannel Marketing?

omnichannel marketing

Omnichannel marketing is most readily defined as seamlessly integrating an organization’s channels, processes, and strategies to gain the ability to engage with consumers anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Think, what if a customer at a physical store received an email with a discount coupon off their next purchase, or someone browsing an item online receiving an SMS offer when they enter a retailer’s brick-and-mortar store what would happen?

The average consumer seamlessly moves between the digital and physical worlds. A financial services customer may check their balance online, and then go to a bank branch to sign up for a loan. A retail consumer might research a product online and then drive to a store to test it before they buy it. Whether that purchase is made online or offline is immaterial; the fact is that the experience involves both digital and physical spaces. This is common as digital and physical experiences blur more closely together.

Customers already engage with brands in an omnichannel manner, and this will only increase over time. Companies need to adapt their systems to follow suit. That’s why an omnichannel marketing approach is so powerful. The blending between digital and physical channels, including the ability to orchestrate interactions across both, means brands can more readily deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.

Omnichannel Marketing Enhances Customer Loyalty

Customers have the power and want to receive personalized, contextually relevant messages regardless of channel. A brand with an omnichannel marketing strategy in place is well-positioned to fulfill that goal. The unification of digital and physical channels means companies can always send the right next best action when it’s needed. Accomplishing this leads to increases in results, as well as better customer retention.

Aberdeen Group, in fact, recently found that companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement have an 89 percent customer retention rating, compared to 33 percent for companies with weak omnichannel engagement. Meanwhile, The E-tailing Group found that 40 percent of consumers purchase more from retailers that provide a personalized shopping experience across channels. These two stats make it clear that delivering an omnichannel experience can and does power improved ROI.

Consumers who live an omnichannel life already want to purchase products the same way. When brands focus on a channel-specific marketing structure where digital and physical spheres are disconnected, that leads to at best a poor customer experience.  At worst, the competition inherent in a channel-based approach means consumers switch their business to a competitive brand and a sale is lost.

What Omnichannel Marketing Requires

Adopting an omnichannel marketing strategy requires several changes. Foremost among these is, of course, organizational alignment – between channel-focused teams but also among senior executives. Given that many companies have long histories of a separation between digital and physical channels, unifying those teams is likely to be a daunting barrier to success. It’s a vital one though, because companies will be unable to succeed without eliminating organizational silos.

From a technical perspective, companies need to break down data silos to craft a 360-degree view of the customer. Possessing and leveraging a single customer view is critical to delivering an omnichannel experience. The view will enable companies to see purchase history, demographics, behaviors, and third-party data all in one place. This unified view can be created through a solution like a customer data platform, which is designed to provide a single point of data control for all information throughout the organization. Once customer data from online and offline sources is unified, it can be used for more nuanced decision-making and aligning with the customer’s preferences.

Companies also need a system, like a customer engagement hub (CEH), to orchestrate omnichannel messaging. A CEH is designed to deliver next best actions regardless of channel as the single point of operational control for campaign management. Customer engagement hub technology allows brands to approach and cultivate consumers at different lifecycle stages. This ability to engage consumers with personalized messages delivered in context across channels is what will eventually have a dramatic positive impact on business results.

Omnichannel Marketing Is the Future

As consumers adopt new channels made available through Internet of Things (IoT) wearables and other devices, as well as in-store beacons, it is vital for companies to quickly decipher the most relevant and valuable ways to provide the next-best action. The reality is that the seamless integration of an omnichannel marketing strategy is quickly becoming table stakes. Brands must act like the coherent whole that consumers view them as to remain competitive.

The combination of technology and organizational change required to deliver on omnichannel marketing may seem daunting. Quite frankly it is for many companies, especially because transitioning to an effective omnichannel approach requires upending traditional structures. The brands who are able to make this transition effectively, and provide the contextually relevant experiences consumers expect, are the ones that will thrive in the long term.

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