With the evolution of digital channels and media, customers now have more channels to find and buy products. This digital transformation of customer journey offers greater opportunities for marketers to connect with and engage such customers. In the modern day customer journey, from information search to post-purchase support customer interact with the brand over multiple channels.
The digital transformation in customer experience acknowledges and addresses the fact that the modern customer is no longer confined to a single platform. Due to the availability of technology and platform customers continue to drive omni‑channel experiences.
However, customers don’t necessarily look for the “same” experience on different channels, but they do expect and demand consistency and highly personalized experiences across all channels. The changing phenomenon in the customer experience strives marketers to deliver a smoother buying experience to customers regardless of the channel, platform or the stage of the buyer’s journey. This is where omni-channel marketing comes into play.
What Is Omni‑Channel Marketing?
Omni-channel marketing creates a seamless message using digital and/or traditional marketing channels to brand’s customers regardless of the customer engaging with the brand, nor the channels used to engage. It creates the brand’s presence across multiple online (website, app, social media, email, SMS, WhatsApp) and offline (retail store, events, call-center) channels while ensuring a positive and seamless experience for the customer at every stage of their life cycle.
Here are few reference cases to illustrate how Omni-channel marketing works:
- A customer searches for product Information in a smartphone;
- Continue through social sites or email for offers/promotions;
- Discuss about the product in forums or in person with friends;
- Purchase the product from a store or online;
- Receive after‑purchase communications and offers through social media and/or call centre etc.;
- Get regular product updates in App, email, SMS and/or other channels.
The above example case means that each channel works together to create a unified message, voice, and a brand identity for your company. The aim is to ensure that customer engagement experience will be exactly the same regardless of whether customers have accessed the seller by way of their website, by entering a store, or even by calling the company on the phone.
Omni-channel Marketing in the Customer Journey
A customer journey is a complex phenomenon in the digital age. Due to the digital evolution determining channels to reach customer is now the most strategic decision for marketers. A customer comes through a number of stages for purchase decision. The marketer task is to ensure the brands presence in every possible touchpoint with personalized messaging tailored to their stage in the customer journey.
The customer journey process may differ from product to product, customer to customer – it largely overlaps with the sales funnel after all.
Omni-channel marketing strategy essentially ensure reaching the customer through all channels he/she encounter during the journey.
Reasons to Adopt an Omni-channel Marketing
Why omni-channel is getting the momentum? Does omni-channel really worth it? Does it actually work? That’s cool to answer! According to Omnisend’s Omnichannel Marketing Automation Statistics Report, omnichannel marketing can do wonders for customer relations. The research finds that using three or more channels leads to the following impact on overall performance –
1. Higher Customer Retention Rate
The marketers using three or more channels in their marketing campaigns earned a 90% higher customer retention rates.
2. Higher Engagement and Purchase Rate
Marketers who use three or more channels in their marketing campaigns enjoy 250% higher engagement and purchase rates.
3. Higher Spending Tendency
In an omni-channel experience with three or more channels, customers are likely to spend 13% more than those who experienced just one channel.
Components of Omni-channel Marketing
The journey of creating a perfect omni-channel experience starts with deep understanding the customer. The best product is the one that solve customer problem and best marketing is the effort that ensure seamless experience for the customer. To design an effective omni-channel marketing strategy marketer needs to observe the kind platforms customers frequently uses. The purchasing behavior, the challenges the customer face while making the purchase, how they interact with the brand across each touch-point and the devices they use to shop.
A well-organized market research on customer purchase behavior will guide the design of an omni-channel marketing strategy. However, the following six components may define a winning omni-channel customer experience –
The marketer need to ensure the presence of its brand on all the available channels the target audience is present on. It refers to creating the brand’s presence across multiple online (website, app, social media, email, SMS, WhatsApp) and offline (retail store, events, call-center) channels.
Consistency is the heart of omni-channel marketing strategy. To create seamless experiences based on a unified brand presence, brands must ensure consistency not only through their presence, communication, and user experience but also through the processes they implement.
To be successful in omni-channel communication, brands can attract and engage people by interacting real-time, ensuring localised, highly personalized and tailored to their preferences. Marketer can reach the customer with the right customized message at the opportune moment.
Empowering customer to make informed choice by providing information is one of the key success factor of omni-channel marketing strategy. Brand that empower and inform customer benefited from band loyalty and generate higher ROI over the time.
As the digital transformation evolve over time and affect customer experience brands should measure the relevant metrics to their marketing activities and optimize the processes and messaging over time.
The brand needs to build it ability to take agile approach to reach out its connected customers as technological development accelerate rapidly. Organizations must adopt the required tools to respond the market change and shifts in buyers’ behavior.
Multi-channel Vs Cross-channel Vs Omni-channel Marketing
There is a tendency among the marketers to use “multi‑channel” “cross-channel” and “omni‑channel” interchangeably when, in fact, these three marketing approaches are significantly distinct. We can say that omni‑channel marketing is the natural evolutionary outcome of cross‑channel marketing efforts happens over the time. The problem with multi‑channel marketing is that it plans and execute each channel marketing program separate without integration with other channel marketing efforts. Due to the focus is on the company’s perspective rather than customer’s point of view, individual channels often compete with each other. While an effective omni-channel marketing efforts can complement each other to deliver the brand’s unified messages to the customers.
The above picture illustrates the differences among multi-channel, cross-channel and omni-channel marketing in brief. Let’s have a look on how omni-channel communications differ from multichannel and cross-channel.
Multi-channel marketing used to engage consumers by sharing content across multiple touch-points, including web, apps, social media, email, and more. However, due to the fragmented nature of multichannel communications, messaging is not necessarily seamless or consistent across channels. This approach also ignores the need to optimise the customer experience across specific devices, such as mobile, tablet or laptops.
Cross-channel marketing allows consumers to see multiple touch-points as part of the same brand. In turn, this enables businesses to craft a ‘single view of the customer’. This involves unifying the organisation’s message across selected channels. However, each channel still operates as an independent silo. Essentially, cross-channel is more unified than multichannel and yet not as seamless as omni-channel.
Omni-channel marketing refers to a singular experience for consumers across all channels. Essentially, thinking of the brand in terms of the customers or employees’ perspective. Therefore, omni-channel refers to unified communications across multiple channels. This approach allows consumers to have a seamless brand experience as content is optimised for each channel and device. In turn, organisations with an omni-channel approach allow consumers to migrate from channel to channel in a consistent and seamless way.
Omni-Channel Marketing Technologies
A comprehensive framework of strategy, planning, and creative work is required to determine the effective ways to connect to customers for omni‑channel marketing and communication. And the technology is the most critical piece of the framework to enable successful execution of omni‑channel marketing and for managing customer engagements. The technology selected must have the right fit for individual approaches to omni‑channel marketing.
The technologies required to make the omni-channel marketing and communication effective are including, but not limited to the below list –
Depending on the product nature and market type, omni‑channel marketing brings additional technology needs. Companies now must provide higher levels of service for functions such as inventory visibility, consistent customer support from channel to channel, payment information, and ease of in‑store pickups for merchandise ordered online. Omni‑channel marketing also calls for robust cyber security measures, to protect vital customer data and to earn customer trust.
Values Gained from Omni-Channel Marketing
Omni‑channel marketing is adding value to company marketing activities by providing a new way to market, merchandise, and sell of the product. Also, it provides deep insight about the customer buying behavior and purchase pattern across the channel.
However, a well-crafted and well-executed omni-channel marketing strategy bring the following benefits to the brand or company:
1. Strengthens Brand Recall
A strong customer‑focused strategy across the company to connect products, marketing, and selling efforts better to what and how customers want to buy, and to provide consistent interactions at any touch-point.
2. Understanding of Customer Preferences and Buying Behavior
Helps to understand customer preferences and buying behavior across all channels. The powerful insight into individual customer buying journeys to ensure the delivery of what customers want on each channel, enhancing customer experiences and fulfillment.
3. Boosts Customer Retention and Loyalty
Omni-channel marketing provides a consistent experience across different platforms, customizing the message for different strata of the audience. It improves customer perception of the brand by more accurately meeting, or exceeding, expectations.
4. Helps in Revenue Growth
Increased purchases, as a result of optimized cross‑selling and up-selling, are achieved by processing customer information in real‑time across all channels.
Omni-channel marketing requires to combine the marketing and technical expertise and go through a humongous volume of data to create a successful communication strategy. The first of this series actually illustrate the fundamentals of omni-channel marketing. For a holistic understanding, we need to address some key points like how to create omni-channel marketing strategy? What are the best practices and use cases of omni-channel? What are experience of global brands on omni-channel etc.? The second part of this article will focused to address the issues.