Omnichannel Marketing

A Complete Guide to Omnichannel Marketing

Customers have many options for connecting to and interacting with businesses. Surfing the web, dropping into a physical store, viewing products and posts on social media, engaging with a chatbot or sending an email – these are all channels customers use to discover, engage with, or otherwise buy from businesses.

The sheer number of channels combined with the different ways that customers use them seems to get bigger every year. A recent Salesforce survey of over 14,000 consumers found that B2B buyers use an average of ten channels to connect with businesses and B2C shoppers are up to about eight. This poses a challenge for marketers who need to serve their customers across these different channels and touchpoints in a way that reduces fragmentation and makes the experience as seamless as possible. Omnichannel marketing is how businesses are addressing this need. 

What is Omnichannel Marketing?

Omnichannel marketing is a marketing approach that ensures every possible customer touchpoint is addressed in a way that makes sense for the customer. It considers all the ways your customer will potentially engage with you and uses technology and data to recognize customers across touchpoints, enabling you to respond consistently and appropriately based on who the customer is and where they are in their buying journey.

Omnichannel Marketing Examples

Here are some examples of how omnichannel marketing addresses the circuitous route that consumers take to purchase a product or service: 

  • Example 1: A jewelry store sends an email to its customers about a new collection, driving them to request a print catalog. The catalog then encourages shoppers to visit both the online ecommerce site and the physical retail locations. This allows customers to discover products and make purchases through multiple connected channels like email, printed catalogs, websites, and brick-and-mortar stores. 
  • Example 2: A restaurant encourages diners to sign up for their loyalty program mobile app. After joining, customers receive a personalized welcome email from the manager of the location they visited, inviting them to log into the app to receive a free appetizer on their next visit. This connects the physical restaurant experience with digital channels like email and the mobile app. 
  • Example 3: An electronics retailer focuses on allowing customers to move seamlessly between channels like online, in-store, and mobile app experiences. Shoppers can use the app to “scan and shop” from their print catalog, make purchases online for in-store pickup, or obtain 24/7 tech support from their service desk. No matter the channel, they’ve got their customers covered. 

Omnichannel vs Multichannel Marketing

Omnichannel marketing focuses on the customer experience across all channels, while multichannel marketing promotes products across multiple channels separately. With omnichannel, data is unified to provide a seamless, consistent experience no matter how the customer engages. 

With multichannel marketing, the customer experience is more fragmented and inconsistent. That’s because each channel operates within its own silo so print messaging may be different from digital messaging or in-store inventory may be tracked separately from the website. Another example: you send the same generic promotion across email, social, website vs. tailoring the messaging and content to the customer’s context on each channel.

How does Omnichannel Marketing Work?

A successful ecommerce omnichannel strategy views shopping from the customer’s perspective – namely, as one consistent path from discovery through purchase. That path will have a few (or many) stops along the way and it may diverge, double back, and veer off in a new direction before the ultimate destination (e.g., the purchase) is made.

The key enabler for true omnichannel personalization is an integrated technology platform with an open infrastructure that connects all your data sources and customer touchpoints. This allows you to capture and unify customer data from websites, mobile apps, physical stores, email, and more into a single customer profile. Using AI and analytics models, you can then detect meaningful patterns in the customer journey data to identify key moments for personalization. 

Dynamic personalization engines like Monetate adapt the content, messaging, and experiences in real-time as customers traverse different channels. Tools like audience analytics, journey mapping, automated content personalization and A/B testing enable this seamless omnichannel approach.

Benefits of Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel marketing checks all the boxes when it comes to addressing the needs of both customers and businesses. Here are some benefits that an integrated experience offers:

  • Consistency – Consumers use various channels and touchpoints interchangeably, without much thought about how they got from A to P (purchase). They expect a consistent, connected experience as they move from website to mobile app to physical store and back again. Consider that 60% of shoppers take at least six different actions before deciding to try a new product . Delivering on this “phygital” (physical to digital and back again) behavior ensures you reach them.
  • Increased Engagement – Consistent and personalized messaging across every touchpoint helps customers stay engaged throughout their shopping journey.  It can also increase average order value. A Harvard Business Review study found customers using over four channels spend 9% more than single-channel shoppers.
  • True personalization – Understanding preferences and behaviors across touchpoints allows businesses to deliver highly relevant content that is truly personalized on an individual level. From a shoppers’ perspective, they see relevant recommendations, offers, and messaging that’s appropriate based on past behavior, interest, purchases, and interactions. Among the top omnichannel commerce trends for 2024 is the fact that consumers now expect this level of personalization. It’s no longer optional.
  • Innovation – Omnichannel marketing forces you to continuously adapt your strategies to address evolving customer behaviors, expectations, and needs. As customers shift to (or away from) various channels, technologies, devices, and touchpoints, so should you. An omnichannel mindset can also inspire you to create new products, services, and business models. It’s the best way to remain competitive and relevant.
  • Efficiency – Omnichannel is enabled by data, automation, and integration. When you integrate data and channels into a unified solution, it naturally helps streamline processes and improve operational efficiency. It also gives you a centralized view of customer interactions and preferences. This is the best and, let’s face it, only way to truly optimize marketing efforts and reduces redundancies. It also enables you to effectively allocate resources. 

Challenges of Omnichannel Marketing

While the benefits are clear, implementing an effective omnichannel strategy poses some challenges. For one thing, true omnichannel personalization requires a unified view of the customer across all touchpoints. Siloed data and disconnected systems make this extremely difficult. 

Pivoting to an omnichannel mindset also requires organizational alignment which starts from the top. Leadership around omnichannel marketing is what informs and supports all departments and management levels. Lack of alignment between marketing, sales, IT, and other teams can make it difficult to truly innovate. 

And, importantly, omnichannel marketing needs to the right technology to work. Personalizing the entire experience, both online and offline, requires investment in new hardware and software. Budgets must encompass new equipment, mobile apps, and training/upskilling employees on new systems – this is the only way to bridge the gap between digital and physical channels. 

As McKinsey states, “Traditionally, companies operate digital and physical channels independently.” This creates barriers to omnichannel. 

Omnichannel Marketing Best Practices

Here’s a roundup of best practices that should be part of every omnichannel marketing strategy:

  • Prioritize organizational alignment across teams. Break down silos to ensure collaboration on omnichannel initiatives.
  • Map the customer journey across all touchpoints. Understand how customers move between channels and what they expect at each stage.
  • Unify your data into a centralized platform. Consistent experiences require a complete view of the customer.  Leverage unified data to provide relevant content based on preferences and behaviors.
  • Take advantage of AI and automation. Use technology to execute personalized omnichannel marketing efficiently.
  • Establish consistent branding and messaging. Create guidelines to maintain a cohesive identity and messaging approach across all channels.
  • Gather insights with testing and measurement. Continuously optimize by analyzing performance data and customer feedback.
  • Invest in omnichannel training and upskilling. Employees are critical to reinforcing the customer experience vision.

How can a Personalized Omnichannel Marketing Campaign Elevate Customer Experiences?

Today’s shoppers are inundated with choices across multiple devices and channels, pressed for time, and constantly battling distractions. Whether you’re operating in a B2B or B2C commerce environment, your customers crave a seamless, personalized shopping experience that cuts through the noise. 

By recognizing customers’ activities and preferences wherever they are in the physical or digital world, omnichannel marketing lets you personalize the experience at every stage of the buying journey. Relevant product recommendations, contextualized messaging, and tailored content guides shoppers smoothly towards their goal. This coherent, individualized experience saves customers’ time and energy.

Personalization platforms like Monetate provide features that enable an omnichannel approach by unifying data, automating personalization, and facilitating consistent experiences across channels. Ultimately, delivering this level of personalization and consistency strengthens brand affinity and positions your business as a customer-centric leader. A well-executed omnichannel marketing campaign ensures all pieces of the buying journey come together to make shopping easy.