Omnichannel Marketing in 7 minutes

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Illustration of human in front of multiple devices

It’s very easy to confuse the definition of “omnichannel” marketing. Isn’t it the same as multichannel marketing? Well no, not really. It doesn’t matter what channel you choose to approach customers, as long as you reach them, ticking the boxes of connecting, engaging, and allowing them to buy what they want whilst solving their problems or pain-points. It’s not rocket science, right? To put it simply: One size does not fit all.

In order to understand this, we need to recognize the definition between omnichannel and multichannel - for omnichannel to exist, it needs multichannel but not vice-versa. So, let’s get one thing out of the way - what is the difference between multichannel and omnichannel?

Multichannel versus. Omnichannel

The difference between multichannel and omnichannel marketing is:

  • Multichannel: The ability to interact with customers through various different channels, such as social media, landing pages, print advertisements, mobile, email marketing, and/or websites. Each channel operates independently from other channels, taking up a unique space with unique goals and strategies within those channel environments to tell an individual story.
  • Omnichannel: An integration and ability to bring together the different multichannels under a unique storyline, goal, and strategy to provide one unique streamlined, seamless, and connected experience both digitally and physically. Omnichannel strategies ensure that customers receive the same personalized experience and message through each channel, with the goal of continuously getting to know the customer along the way to improve the overall integrated experience.
An illustration of a visual comparison between multichannel and omnichannel marketing
ChannelsMultichannelOmnichannel
Channel FocusA division between channels each with separate strategies and storylines. Overall, creates a separate experienceComplete integration of multi-channels all voicing the same strategies, storylines, and experience
Channel ScopeAcross retail websites, in-store, website and mobile channel Across retail websites, in-store, social media, website, mobile channel, and customer touchpoints
Degree of integrationSeparateIntegrated completely
Channel ManagementPer-channelAcross all channels
Level of personalizationSeparate personalizationIntegrated personalization

Getting to know omnichannel

Omnichannel is a multichannel sales approach to marketing designed to engage and provide your customers with seamless customer experience. The word itself speaks of the intersection between the digital and physical - the intersection of the typical brick and mortar store to digital experiences as well as the intersection of an e-commerce store to digital experiences likewise. The key to successful omnichannel marketing is knowing your customer, to the point that your marketing strategy is subtle and unnoticeable up until the customer makes their purchase. By knowing your customer’s unique personas, understanding their buying patterns, motivations, and pain-points, can bring immense value and knowledge to your business and brand.

Having a consistent and seamless experience as customers hop between channel to channel, which they do, allows a connected experience in engaging with the customer. According to a Harvard Business Review survey:

  • 73% of consumers use multiple channels throughout the customer journeys to make a purchase
  • Omnichannel shoppers spend on average 4% more every time in-store and spend 10% more when shopping online
  • Omnichannel shoppers are more likely to return to make a purchase as loyal shoppers, showcasing the fact that consumers who engaged with brands through omnichannel made up 23% of in-store visits over a six-month period

It’s all about connecting the dots together.

Connecting the dots: Four omnichannel best practices

Here are four best practices to keep in mind when adopting an omnichannel approach to your business:

1. The customer always comes first

First, in that foremost, you must understand the customer and their behavioral patterns. Gathering data on their interactions with your brand will help in mapping out the best way to integrate an omnichannel approach to your brand. A good starting point is if you have a CRM system already in place, using your existing brand’s data to better understand the overall customer experience, campaign engagement, and shopping behavior. Extra insights can also be gained through search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) that can help you understand what search terms your customers are looking for.

You can additionally also collect data as you go - putting yourself in the shoes of your customer in the entire purchasing process on your website and submitting a ticket to customer support/service. Likewise, reach out to customers for feedback to better understand their pain-points in the overall experience. Get members of your team involved, whether that be product design, marketing, sales, customer support, or service; everyone has a unique take on what makes a good experience and what they expect brands to communicate with them.

A useful mapping process to then determine the storyline use throughout your omnichannel approach is the usage of personas, keeping in mind different audience segmentations that can take place, and thus, different needs and experiences of the customer journey. By distinguishing your different customer personas, you can better understand how your customers interact with your brand, how frequently they purchase, what are their touchpoints during the journey and products they are most likely to use.

2. Fitting in around the world by being local

Nobody wants to feel like a fish out of a bowl. That applies also to keeping up with your international audience. If you happen to have an e-commerce site that ships internationally, what better way into your customer’s hearts than to speak their language?

With internationalization, you’re able to gain traction in the local language whilst still being global - adapting content to each unique audience around the world. Whether that be through language-specific reviews or currency conversions and local preferred payment options, in order to be omnichannel, localization must go beyond the website. Social media pages are a prime example of contributing to the local community with country-specific pages collaborating with local influencers, using the language and lingo, and engaging with the community through storytelling.

3. Mobile-First Experience

The majority of the omnichannel experience is actually driven by mobile devices. What better way than having content and a story that moves with you across multiple channels? Yet, mobile sites primarily lag behind desktop sites in loading times and therefore can uproot the overall omnichannel experience, leaving your customers to venture probably to another competitor.

Make sure you’ve optimized both your desktop and mobile page speed loading times. Remember that the goal is to make the most seamless and connected experience across channels and devices with your customers.

4. Create a story that lives across channels and devices

A story that lives and breathes, that moves across your channels and the customer’s devices in a seamless way. The main objective in omnichannel storytelling is to improve your ROI, increase brand awareness, provide a seamless and unified story, and experience to your customers, and in turn, give you the flexibility and control across all your channels.

Keep in mind that omnichannel storytelling goes beyond your social media or website, but also involves examples such as email marketing, automated text messaging, or social media click-through integrations; as well as an intersection between the physical and online e-commerce store in the customer storytelling experience. Some examples of this are:

  • A customer visiting a physical store and receives an SMS or email on their phone, with promotions of that brand whilst browsing
  • Receiving a cart-abandonment message via an automated text message through SMS, Facebook Messenger, or email
  • Social media integrations of a posted product photo on Instagram with a click-through link to the product on your website
  • Remarketing of viewed products through banner ads and social media (e.g. Instagram stories)
  • Shops selling their products on social media sites (social selling) such as Instagram Product Posts, Facebook Marketplace, Instagram Shop, or Pinterest Shopping

Key Takeaway

Our ways of consumption have changed, jumping from physical stores to smartphones or smart speakers, and a plethora of devices and touchpoints that interact with a consumer in different parts of the day. These kinds of devices have ultimately changed the way consumers communicate and engage with brands, as well as marketers interact with their customers. Long gone are the days of singular presences on single channels or devices. Enter the new digital landscape of customer experiences designed to understand, seamlessly engage across multiple platforms and channels.

To sum it up: Omnichannel requires you to understand the customer journey and create an integrated, personalized, and seamless experience across multiple channels and devices.

Storyblok helps e-commerce businesses to deliver great omnichannel experiences. Brands like HappySocks, Adidas, and Pizza Hut Australia are using Storyblok’s headless CMS to organize their content in one central place. To learn more about telling your story and manage your content, check out Storyblok.

Christel Forey

Author

Christel Forey

Christel is a creative-driven marketer and content creator who is passionate about human & consumer behavior, advertising, entrepreneurial thinking, branding, and bundles her experience in laser focused articles, white-papers, checklists, and an overall content strategy.