By Rajiv Kumar Aggarwal
Whether it’s your colleague searching for new outfits for a weekend party or you looking for a restaurant booking to host a nice birthday dinner, the path to purchase, in today’s world of digitisation, can start or end at any time, in any location and on any device.
As modern-day buyers, we have this constant urge of hopping from online stores to mobile apps and to our favorite social media platforms before making a purchase. And, it is our growing dependence on technology that has led to a greater demand for a “buy” option on all the channels that we use during our purchase journey. This is exactly why brands need to build an omnichannel presence.
The challenge for new-age business owners is to facilitate uniform, seamless and more personalised buying journeys across multiple customer touch points. And, by building an omnichannel platform, brands can not only improve customer experience but also facilitate consumer retention which can further boost digital sales.
What Is Omnichannel Marketing?
Retail ecommerce, for long, has been the harbinger of change. Thus, there was no surprise to see omnichannel ecommerce strategy first being adopted by retail brands. Gaining popularity with the mobile revolution in 2013, omnichannel retail, less than a decade later, has become the go-to business model for brands looking to disrupt the market.
With the emergence of new marketing channels, retailers are now forced to shift their focus from traditional marketing to omnichannel marketing strategies. Well, it all makes perfect sense but what exactly does omnichannel marketing mean? Let’s dive deeper.
Omnichannel marketing refers to creating your brand’s presence across multiple online (website, app, social media, email, SMS, WhatsApp) and offline (retail store, events, call center) channels to ensure a positive and seamless experience throughout the customer’s journey. In simpler terms, omnichannel marketing takes a consumer-centric view of marketing tactics.
When compared with its counterparts like multi-channel and cross-channel marketing, where all the communication channels work in isolation with no or limited connection between any of them, omnichannel marketing is a more advanced version where all the channels work cohesively and in harmony with each other.
Making Omnichannel Marketing Plan A Success
While opting for omnichannel solutions sounds like an intelligent decision for brands, building a seamless, unified, multi-channel strategy to create an impactful connection with customers across multiple touchpoints is altogether a different ballgame. To create an impactful omnichannel experience, you need to have a perfect omnichannel marketing strategy whose success is governed by certain key elements.
Identifying Customer Channels: Not knowing customers can be catastrophic for any brand, but to create an omnichannel experience, one needs to know them intimately. Knowing the customers’ shopping interests, channels they use and motivating factors behind their purchase can have a significant impact for any brand. Thereon, brands can create a detailed plan on how they want the experience to flow across all the touchpoints. By inviting customer feedback and using social media tools, companies can identify the channels consumers use to access their content which, in turn, allows them to maximise their return on investment (ROI).
Consistent Brand Tonality and Experience: By using omnichannel marketing, one can seamlessly integrate branding, messaging and, online and offline touchpoints. This enables your buyers to interact with your brand on different channels. Thus, it is really important for companies to keep their brand tonality and customer experience consistent on each channel. You can also make use of personalised messages based on buyers’ interest. Also, producing branded content based on past interactions and stages of the buyer’s journey will add to the pleasant buying experience and can potentially make customers loyal to your brand.
Make It Personal: There is nothing like personalisation to make customers feel valued. Allowing customers to use local languages of their choice can not only attract them but can potentially lead to conversions. You can also target customers with relevant product recommendations. For instance, a customer, who expressed interest in a product on an online store but didn’t purchase it, can be retargeted via social media with a discount offer. A brand can also create a loyalty program based on the customer data collected from in-store and online purchases in a bid to drive more sales.
Strategise With Data: There is nothing like precious consumer data to make a brand stand out. You can make full use of customers’ browsing data by enabling cookies on your site. It can give an insight into a customer’s tastes and preferences which can be used to target them better. By gathering information about consumers’ wishlist items, you can persuade customers into buying by offering discounts on those products. Information about consumers’ favorite days of shopping, preferred social media platforms and channels of shopping can enable your brand to plan the right engagement strategy at each stage of the customer’s buying journey. This, further, can lead to a significant increase in conversions.
Leverage User-Generated Content: By leveraging content generated by the user, you can further bolster a brand’s ability to market its products. By inviting customers to add reviews and ratings to your website, you can create trust and confidence in the products or services on offer. One can also urge users to add images or videos to their review which adds to the authenticity of the product and creates a real understanding of what a product will be like when used. By efficiently leveraging user-generated content, you can easily create a social proof of products, evidence of product value and, most importantly, enhance credibility for your brand.
Optimise Customer Touchpoints: While running a business, one needs to ensure that every customer interaction with the brand is a positive one. That’s why optimising various digital touchpoints is so critical for brands. For instance, you can use your social media page to promote products, build relationships and enhance the overall reputation of the brand. Similarly, a brand can optimise other touchpoints like a mobile website, online store and apps among others to create an effective omnichannel experience which, in turn, can act as a catalyst for enhanced customer engagement and conversions.
Going Hyperlocal: In the ever-changing market situations, there is a consistent need to find innovative ways to reach customers. While your quality products or services surely remain imperative to strike a chord with consumers, winning customer satisfaction can be a challenge. One way to overcome such hurdles is by using the power of hyperlocal. For instance, by collaborating with local vendors and offline stores, a brand can really expedite the process of delivering products to the customers – something food service aggregators and quick commerce brands have been seen doing in recent times.
Brands can also create localised content on the site to engage with people in a specific location. This can make a brand sound more appealing to those looking for similar products around a particular area. Also, by using relevant keywords on localised landing pages, a brand can pop up on local searches and also attract more traffic on the site. Furthermore, when it comes to attracting new customers, there is nothing like location-specific deals to lure them in.
Is It Worth The Effort?
For all the hardships one needs to put into understanding the data and, therefore, creating a seamless experience for the customers across multiple channels, it is quite obvious to ask if omnichannel marketing is really worth it. But, in the era, where customer behavior continues to dictate market changes, omnichannel marketing is the way to go for firms keen on winning the consumer experience battleground.
A successful omnichannel marketing strategy is credited for fostering brand awareness among customers, improving engagement, and increasing ROI and sales. But, the biggest thing going for omnichannel marketing is arguably customer retention and loyalty. After all, who doesn’t like a happy customer who is willing to come back to your brand repeatedly?
Regardless of the size or scale of your business, you can no longer ignore omnichannel marketing as a fad or exception. In fact, it’s the new normal.
The author is founder and CEO of StoreHippo. Views expressed are personal.