What Is Omnichannel Marketing and What Does It Mean for Your Brand?
As consumer shopping habits continue to evolve in the wake of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever for brands to consider an omnichannel marketing approach when delivering their message. Keep in mind that though life in many parts of the U.S. has returned to a semblance of normalcy, consumers are still in a state of flux when it comes to deciding where and how they want to engage with brands. Will they return to your brick-and-mortar store? Or continue to engage with the brand through your website, mobile apps or social media posts? Likely it will be a combination of these touchpoints across multiple devices. Taking an omnichannel marketing approach could be the key to reaching your intended audience as their present habits are once again challenged, and to better position your brand to create durable connections with each and every one of them.
Let’s first define omnichannel marketing. Unlike multichannel marketing, in which brands simply employ a variety of tactics to interact with their customers, omnichannel marketing focuses on delivering a consistent, personalized experience for shoppers across all channels and devices. The differentiating—albeit challenging—aspect of omnichannel marketing lies in maintaining consistency while personalizing the brand experience for each consumer. How can you stay true to your brand while individually and authentically connecting with each customer where and how they choose to engage?
As with any brand initiative, success involves investment in truly understanding your target audience as well as their motivations and how best to engage them. Likely you already have a good idea of who, broadly, comprises this audience. But what has reliably worked in the past to engage and delight them may not work now or in the future. Over the past 18 months, new consumer habits have emerged, with new expectations for how brands will accommodate them. Now is a good time to reach out and connect with your audience to see what, if anything, has changed in their perceptions of your brand, in their behaviors as well as their needs in general. Use social listening techniques in conjunction with traditional research methodologies to be sure you continue to address their priorities and remain relevant as they navigate their “new normal.”
Determining the right mix of channels and content based on where the consumer is on their journey.
A second element of omnichannel marketing is the consistency with which your message needs to be delivered. Because you are reaching consumers via various channels at various points along their buying journey, it is critical that you stay true to your brand message even as you tailor it to unique audience segments across disparate channels. Consistency in messaging will reinforce your credibility and help build confidence in your brand.
Consumers demand a seamless experience no matter how or when they interact with your brand. In some instances, their purchasing journey may begin with an engagement on social media before ultimately purchasing a product in-store. Others may scan a product from their phone, research on their laptop, then return to the phone for a conversation with a brand representative.
Understanding this data can give you visibility into the actions your customer has taken, and suggest what their next move is likely to be (you can also use this insight to guide them toward an action you would like them to take). According to McKinsey, more than half of customers engage with three to five channels when making a purchase or resolving a request—and no customer wants to start from square one at every touchpoint they have with a brand. Knowing where interactions have occurred in the past and anticipating future engagements can help you deliver personalized content and thereby create a more seamless, convenient and impactful shopping experience.
Omnichannel marketing is perhaps the ultimate consumer-centric marketing plan. By understanding and anticipating each customer’s individual journey and tailoring the experience to them, you can position your brand for success in whatever new normal comes next.