If you are an eComm marketer and have not been living under a rock the past three years, you have likely had numerous conversations and debates about omnichannel marketing. Let’s just say it is a hot topic around eComm marketing teams.
But with many different definitions floating around, this has led to a little bit of chaos for marketers. Today I want to lay out how I define “omnichannel”, along with a couple foundational tips that could help you launch the omnichannel program of your dreams.
Let’s start with the definition
Omnichannel is an eCommerce marketing and sales strategy that provides a seamless shopping experience for customers between channels. Omnichannel allows merchants to sell through multiple channels like desktops, mobile devices, and in-person stores. The essence of omnichannel is to create a hiccup-free shopping experience for every consumer from first touch to last, no matter the channel the customer is choosing to use.
This approach is not really a new thing. When you get to the core of what omnichannel marketing is trying to create, it is in fact a tried-and-true marketing strategy. What do I mean? Marketers, whether B2B or B2C, have always set out to create seamless experiences for the consumer. The fact is, every time a customer interacts with the marketer’s brand, it must feel like it is a continuation of the previous interaction.
Therefore, the message that the consumer sees must not only be relevant, it must be familiar. They must not have a disjointed buying experience or they may not buy!
Now let’s discuss what omnichannel is not…
Perhaps my previous statement made you ask…well isn’t that just multichannel marketing? The answer to that is: not exactly. Multichannel marketing is all about implementing a unified message across all of your marketing channels. The problem with multichannel for eComm, however, is that it lacks personalization. Multichannel strategies design a message that will hopefully be relevant to the majority of potential buyers, but not all of them.
70% of brands that rely on advanced personalization bagged 200% ROI and more from their efforts, according to KO Marketing.
Personalization is a game changer for eCommerce sales and marketing execution. You win and die depending on your personalization strategy. This is where an omnichannel strategy leaves multichannel in the dust.
Omnichannel marketing strategies are all about personalization. Thus, they can be more complicated to master. They consider the buyer as the nucleus to the entire marketing and sales process. A buyer does not start a journey and end the journey as the same buyer. Journeys are just not that simple. At the end of the day, I am a completely different business leader today than I was 5 years ago. I am sure you can relate.
Therefore, the omnichannel approach adapts and evolves with the buyer through every touchpoint. The brand and value prop must continue to adapt in a personal manner with the growing and evolving needs of the customer. This approach speaks to the customers listening at every step of the buying process.
Personalization and omnichannel marketing are tied at the hip, and the proof is in the success.
KO Marketing also says that 51% of marketers assert that personalization across multiple touchpoints increased ROI by 300% and more.
Personalized experiences create more experiences. This creates more data. More data can create more problems, but not if the right strategies are in place. In fact, more data – along with the right strategies and tools – create enhanced personalization, better omnichannel success, and more cross-channel conversions.
Now that we have a clear definition of what omnichannel marketing is and why it is so beneficial, let’s figure out how you can get started with your omnichannel strategy.
Two things you must have to succeed with omnichannel
Naturally, I am going to start with optimizing the management of your data! This starts with having the right tools to do the job.
The good news for retailers is that there is no shortage of technology solutions in the market for them to take advantage of. These platforms were originally built to help implement the experiences and cross-channel customer journey that the customer expects and desires. The bad news is that by adding more tech into the retail environment, we have also made the customer’s journey more disjointed and complex at times.
So, it is critical to get this part right. The marketing budget now consists of the purchasing of technology. In the old days that was an IT thing. Not anymore!
The marketer can now control their own marketing technology outcomes. It is critical for marketers to find out which solutions or a combination of solutions will actually add value and enhance not only the efficiency of their omnichannel operation but also help improve the bottom line.
In today’s omnichannel technology ecosystem, marketers have options. The top three technologies that marketers are currently adopting to reach their omnichannel marketing dreams include:
- Marketing Automation Platforms like Marketo and HubSpot
- Data Targeting/Segmentation Apps like Demand Science
- Marketing Analytics like Domo and Funnel.io
In fact, marketers are spending more and more on these technologies as the years progress.
I am a huge fan of these apps, and these platforms create a great tech stack to build a wonderful omnichannel program around. But, we are missing one very important component. There should be a fourth technology that is not listed above, which is a Workflow Automation Solution.
Integrating and orchestrating data across platforms is the only way to achieve omnichannel success
As I stated before, the proliferation of technology has allowed us to market to consumers across many different platforms. But, this proliferation has also created silos that oftentimes lead to less personalization and a disjointed customer experience.
A seamless experience is paramount for the consumer. How are you supposed to deliver a seamless experience if one system has valuable data about your email execution, another system has insights into social engagement, and your store has a completely different platform that is recording key consumer behavior within the store experience?
Each engagement produces a fountain of data knowledge regarding a consumer’s likes, dislikes, likely next purchases, channel preferences, and so on. However, when each channel is operated as a separate entity, customer information cannot be shared between systems to create a single customer view, and accurate personalization can’t be achieved.
Without personalization, the omnichannel approach will fail. It is just another half-hearted, multi-channel approach in that case. And without an omnichannel view with the emphasis being personalization, marketers will be unable to identify 70% of their most valuable customers.
Integration of all of this data and across all of these channels is what ultimately leads to omnichannel success. By automating the flow of this data to create a single view of the customer, you are able to understand when the consumer is evolving – where they are evolving to – so you can meet them where you need to meet them to convert.
This is where apps like Vertify come into play. Not only do apps like Vertify integrate and automate the flow of data across all of these apps so that each app has a complete customer view, but they also deal with data cleansing on the fly to ensure you can trust the data in all of your omnichannel apps. After all, you spent all that hard earned money on Marketing Automation, Segmentation, and Analytics apps and you want to get the most out of them, right?
So as you roll into 2023, invest in all of your great tech and be sure to budget accordingly for integration and data automation to be a part of your tech stack. Integration will help you avoid not getting the most out of your tech because its data is not working for you.
High performing marketing teams are:
- Integrating their mobile marketing strategy and data into the overall marketing strategy
- Have integrated their email marketing strategy and data into the overall marketing strategy
- Have integrated their social media strategy and data into the overall marketing strategy
Now let’s talk about measurement
Now that your systems are in place and your customer data is integrated to work for you, not against you, it is time to figure out how to measure.
Time is money! According to McKinsey Solutions, retailers are struggling to move at the speed their consumers want and need. The survey found that 78% admit there is no one brand experience across their channels but acknowledge that “a well-defined cross or multi-channel strategy” is the top innovation that would drive digital growth. The report went on to state the top three reasons behind the omnichannel struggle as follows:
- Lack of customer analytics across channels (67%)
- Siloed organization (48%)
- Poor data quality (45%)
We already talked about silos and data quality, but we have yet to talk about the analysis of this data. Now that we have broken down the silos and we trust the data, it is time for you to analyze and enhance your insights to make better consumer-based decisions. To operate a scalable, high growth omnichannel strategy, you must have rich consumer profiles and customer insights.
It is critical to use systems like Vertify to integrate all of this rich customer data into applications like Domo or Funnel.io. By delivering a complete and comprehensive view of the customer profile to these reporting and analytics solutions, you can start to draw conclusions on next best actions to convert across channels. Without these insights you are flying blind. With them you are supercharging your growth engine.
Getting personal is the key to omnichannel strategy success. Getting personal requires that you know who your customer is and how they want to be communicated to at each stage of the buying process.
It is the combination of a well-defined tech stack which segments, integrates, cleanses, reports, and delivers that makes it easier to tailor the message to empower your desired action.
With this knowledge, plan for your 2023 omnichannel strategy with more confidence that you will be able to speak into your consumers listening across their journey. Go out and create an omnichannel experience for your customers that promotes brand awareness and affinity.
CPO & Co-Founder