Omnichannel marketing is an approach to marketing, branding, selling and customer service that aims to meet customers, wherever they are and to create a seamless brand experience. Customers can browse Instagram on their phones, shop online from a desktop computer, or even visit an actual store. If done well, it can increase sales and customer loyalty.
Omnichannel marketing is meant to support the reality of the way customers experience brands today. They don’t distinguish channels but think of each interaction as part of an overall brand experience.
Omnichannel marketing vs. multichannel marketing
Before we get into how to do it better, let’s go over the difference between omnichannel marketing and simple multichannel marketing. Multichannel marketing relies on different communication channels, but there isn’t necessarily a strategy in place that ties brand experiences together. Omnichannel marketing, as described, is built on the idea that experiences should feel continuous regardless of where they take place.
Omnichannel marketing requires a holistic, brand-centric view of each component. You want customers to have a consistent experience no matter what piece of your marketing puzzle they’re looking at. The following tips will help you as you build and maintain a successful strategy.
1. Build an adaptable content library
You need to have as much high quality content developed as your team can manage that can be applicable across multiple channels. It should be relevant to different stages of a buyer’s journey. Think about ways to repurpose content as well. A podcast can be turned into a blog post. Blog posts can become scripts for your YouTube channel or chopped up into micro-content for social media posts.
You can even use social media engagement to help develop this content. In They Ask You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer, author Marcus Sheridan says, “The ultimate content strategy is listening.” You can turn the answers to frequently asked questions into blog posts and more.
2. Keep your brand consistent
Keeping your brand experience consistent across channels is key. Brands benefit when communication, tone, design, and other brand elements are consistent. An inconsistent brand will confuse customers. That’s why it’s so important to develop standards for brand consistency. Every interaction customers have should support your brand’s identity and values.
Brand guidelines give everyone who works with your brand assets a roadmap for how to use them.. Walmart, a true master of omnichannel marketing, has a robust brand portal that’s worth looking at. Color schemes, fonts, image selection and tone are all articulated in a way that makes it easy for creatives to keep everything on brand.
3. Choose the right channels
You don’t have to be everywhere at once. One of the traps of omnichannel marketing is “more is more” thinking. Just because you have access to a channel doesn’t mean it should be used. In fact, some channels might be a waste of your time.
Look at where your customers are most likely to engage with your content and focus on those. For example, if you have great food pics, your customers might prefer Instagram or Pinterest to Twitter. If they are professionals, they might like LinkedIn, but not Facebook.
If you’re not sure what’s popular with your customers, ask them. Most social media platforms support the creation of polls. You can always use engagement analytics to determine the channels where your users are most active. Clicks and likes are not always customers, but they do indicate general interest.
4. Don’t forget offline opportunities
Sometimes it seems like the world has gone completely digital. But analog channels remain popular with many audiences. Radio, branded merchandise, magazine ads, event sponsorships and direct mail all have uses for certain businesses. Think about this: if billboards were dead, why would Apple use so many of them to advertise their new phones each year?
5. Use data to your advantage
All of your digital channels should be producing data. Analyzing this data can help you understand how users interact and engage with your content. You can monitor customer behavior and understand how it contributes to the overall progress in the user’s purchase journey.
It helps to have a platform for integrating, analyzing and reporting on data from different sources. The more tools or spreadsheets you have in the mix, the more time you spend trying to make sense of combined data.
6. Test and optimize your message across channels
Each channel has its own unique audience and best practices. What plays well on Instagram doesn’t necessarily work well on Facebook, even though they are both owned by the same company. The layout of ads can be quite different and images that pop on one platform might not look great on another.
To maximize the effectiveness of your ads, you should test everything you put in front of your audience regularly. Audience needs can change subtly over time, so your message needs to evolve. This can be driven by platform changes (e.g., Twitter’s move from 140 to 280 character limits). Demographics can also shift, like when Facebook became the site for “old people.”
7. Stay focused on your goals
You want the omnichannel experience to lead customers somewhere, usually a purchase. When you’re putting the pieces together, keep your main goal in mind and continually ask yourself if the channel is contributing. If it isn’t, it will likely confuse your customers.
Omnichannel marketing gives customers what they want
An omnichannel marketing strategy helps marketers give customers a better overall shopping experience. It minimizes friction between channels and makes it easy for customers to know what your brand stands for. This is important because people are increasingly judging brands on their “personality.” Omnichannel communicates openness and availability, which are traits humans like.
Omnichannel marketing is a natural fit for the modern buying journey. It plays a critical role in a world where traditional retail is being challenged and younger generations are looking for in-person experiences. Important brands all across the world have begun using this approach and the results have been solid. If you take the time to line up your efforts, you can benefit, too.