Omnichannel marketing is a marketing strategy that many of the world’s top brands and corporations utilize today to provide a unique customer experience unlike ever before.
When developing a sales experience for your customers, it is important to understand customer expectations around customer experience and retail accessibility across a variety of channels. eCommerce businesses are particularly subject to certain expectations of seamless integration and personalized customer experiences.
Today, we’ll discuss the distinguishing characteristics and benefits of omnichannel marketing, along with strategic recommendations and excellent examples of brands that have successfully integrated omnichannel marketing into their business operations and sales experiences.
Here’s what we’ll cover
What is Omnichannel Marketing?
Omnichannel marketing is a sales experience model that is focused on an integrated customer shopping experience.
A consistent and personalized sales experience is the hallmark of omnichannel marketing and spans across all aspects of a business’ sales model. Omnichannel marketing targets customers across multiple different sales channels – including but not limited to social media, online eCommerce and retail locations – and across all stages in the sales funnel in a seamless and highly integrated way.
Online sales and digital commerce is just one facet of an omni channel marketing strategy. Many would say that it’s one of the most essential. Learn more in “Why an eCommerce Website is Essential to Grow Your Business.”
How does Omnichannel Marketing Differ From Multichannel Marketing?
The primary difference between omnichannel and multichannel marketing is the guiding principle that the strategy is designed around. Omnichannel marketing is often considered to be shopper or customer based marketing, not channel-based marketing. The ultimate goal of omnichannel marketing is to create a user-friendly, seamless shopping experience for the customer no matter how or where the customer is interacting with your brand or products.
By contrast, multichannel marketing is a sales strategy that spans several different channels – social media, online retail, in-store retail etc. The primary distinguishing factor of multichannel marketing is the process by which each channel operates independently from the others.
Each sales channel is isolated and operates within its own vacuum making the sales experience often confusing and even frustrating for customers.
For example, in a multichannel marketing strategy, the in-person retail location does not coincide with the online retailer – perhaps they offer different products online (or no products online at all!) or different sales and promotions online or in-person.
In today’s digital age, and especially during the time of COVID-19 and limited in-store retail options, omnichannel marketing is considered to be highly effective and more desirable than multichannel marketing.
Personalized customer shopping experiences have become a standard expectation for many consumers in various industries, making omnichannel more appealing to businesses and customers alike.
A helpful rule to remember the difference between omnichannel and multichannel marketing is understanding the depth of channel integration. All omnichannel marketing strategies consist of multiple channels, but not all multichannel marketing strategies are integrated enough to be considered an omnichannel experience.
However, omnichannel marketing is not without its challenges. The increased integration required for omnichannel marketing is often costly and requires significant resourcing to adapt and maintain.
For many brands or small businesses, these costs and resourcing can be limiting factors in choosing omnichannel marketing as your strategic sales approach, but it doesn’t need to be.
With the advancements in eCommerce, an omnichannel marketing strategy might be in your reach after all.
How do You Build an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy?
For example, a consumer may see a product online, go see said product in a retail location, but then purchase the product from a social media-based promotion. In fact, Deloitte’s Digital Influence Study revealed that over half (56%) of all brick-and-mortar transactions are preceded by a digital engagement.
When creating an omnichannel marketing experience it is important to do an organizational scan and understand how various departments in your organization will work together and integrate. Some teams that should be identified as key internal stakeholders should include:
- Social media
- In-store retail
- Customer support
- Customer and employee success
Once you’ve identified your key internal stakeholders, it is time to align your strategy and objectives. While aligning these teams may be easy ( or extremely challenging based on your organization!) it is important to understand how each stakeholder impacts the overall omnichannel experience for the consumer.
Remember, omnichannel marketing is designed to be so integrated that a customer does not notice differences between various sales channels. In simple terms, the personal shopping experience a customer gets in a retail location should be echoed in other channels such as online or on social media. Every brand will have a different strategic plan to create effective omnichannel marketing.
5 Excellent Brand Experiences Using Omnichannel Marketing
When it comes to a customer-centred approach, look no further than Disney as a textbook example of highly integration omnichannel marketing.
Disney has invested a significant amount of money in both their web and social presence to ensure the customer experience is highly branded, customizable and accessible across various channels and devices. An excellent example of this integration is the trip planning website.
This site is easily accessible as a mobile-friendly site and app and this planning tool easily transitions into their park based experiences such as My Disney Experience app, Magic Band program and Fast Pass integration. When it comes to elevating and personalizing the customer experience, Disney is second to none.
Another great example of omnichannel marketing is the Starbucks My Rewards app as a retail, customer loyalty and information app. The app even allows customers to order beverages or food in real-time to avoid waiting in line! This app is highly integrated with many elements of the Starbucks business model.
Within the app, customers can order products for pick up, find locations and hours, redeem and earn rewards and pay for orders with a simple gift card reload feature. The Starbucks My Reward app is a top tier example of a customer rewards program app with additional features and customer-focused solutions.
3. Beauty Cosmetics
When it comes to creating new experiences for customers to shake up a traditional sales strategy, Benefit Cosmetics “brow bar” experiences are a great example of omnichannel marketing. Prior to creating the brow bar experience, Benefit Cosmetics was primarily sold in third party retail locations and online.
The brow bar experience differed in each country and usually consisted of a small pop up style brow bars and product display within other cosmetics retail locations such as Sephora, The Bay, Nordstroms and Shoppers Drug Mart, The brow bar experience amplified the Benefit Cosmetics footprint in these sales locations and helped to drive both in-store and online sales.
In addition, the UK based Benefit Cosmetics team created a BrowMobile campaign that hosted a beauty drive-thru for customers to provide free brow services and product samples. This type of “meet your customers where they are” experience sets Benefit Cosmetics apart, driving sales and brand recognition both online and offline.
Financial institutions and banks
Another industry that has quickly adapted to embrace omnichannel marketing is large consumer financial institutions such as banks and credit unions. These institutions are setting the bar for integrated app technologies and consumer-based services accessible across multiple devices and channels.
For many consumers, online banking and mobile app banking has eliminated the need to visit physical bank locations due to their cutting edge features and services. Customers can deposit cheques virtually, apply for products or accounts, apply for loans and mortgages, transfer money, pay bills, book banking appointments and even find savings in their current spending and banking habits.
IKEA is known for its large box stores and warehouse-style, self-service marketplaces but the company continues to make great strides in their online retail and omnichannel integration. In 2017, IKEA launched its online inventory catalogue to replace its previously mass-printed catalogues.
These catalogues are far more accessible to the average consumer, are more cost-effective for the company and can help to drive online and in-store sales. In addition, the IKEA online catalogue takes the customer experience further with handy online features like a virtual shopping assistant, gift registry and a planning tool.
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