The world of marketing has grown exponentially more complex in recent years in direct proportion to the number of channels available to consumers. Along with that growth has come the rise of a term worth closer examination: omni-channel marketing.

At its most basic, omni-channel is the logical follow-up to multi-channel marketing. But the difference between the two is distinct: Multi-channel is focused on the sale. Omni-channel is focused on the customer. Knowing and understanding the difference between them is critical to the successful implementation of an omni-channel marketing effort. It means the end of ‘sales silos’, and instead focuses on the overall customer experience. 

The evolution to Omni-Channel Marketing campaigns:

Omni-Channel Marketing programs improve response rates

“An omni-channel approach puts the customer, not corporate silos, at the center of its strategy,” noted Stacy Schwartz, a digital marketing expert and adjunct professor at Rutgers Business School, quoted in a recent piece from EContent magazine. “It acknowledges that mobile and social have enabled customers to not only quickly switch between channels, but actually use channels simultaneously.”

words with omni in themIn other words, omni-channel enables your brand to promote and sell anywhere the customer wants to buy, from local marketing to global endeavors. And with all the options available to consumers to discover, research and commit to your brand, you need to make it available for purchase everywhere. Omni-channel enforces brand consistency and offers a unified message for all channels. This is what makes it such a powerful tool in a highly competitive marketplace.

There are a number of elements that make up a strong omni-channel marketing strategy, worth keeping in mind as you build out your sites:

Availability is Key.

Consumers like choice. With today’s connection options, they want to be able to discover everything they can about your product whenever they want, the way they want. That means building out your presence so it offers connectivity no matter how your customers find you: mobile device, desktop device, through social media, via kiosks or even a brick and mortar store.

Be Consistent.

Once you commit to an omni-channel strategy, stay on top of it. Monitor social media about your brand, and if you see any complaints or concerns expressed, address them immediately, because consumers can be a fickle bunch. EMarketer reports 56% of U.S. consumers told strategy and consulting company Accenture that “the number of brands they considered had increased significantly in the past 10 years. Nearly half of those surveyed also said they were more likely to switch brands than they were 10 years ago.” Your global brand needs careful, ongoing management, as this blog on Global Brand Management shows. Don’t take customers for granted. They have other options.

Stay Channel-Neutral.

omni channelChief Marketing Officers want results (e.g. “Sales”), and they’re not too particular about where they come from, as long as they keep coming. Consumers are of a similar mindset: They want the same information (and offers and promotions) that they find on one channel to be available on all channels. As such, take steps to assure that one channel is not favored over another. The whole idea behind omni-channel is the familiarity and similarity of the same offer on every channel.

The ‘Seamless’ Experience.

While customers don’t actively seek out a reason to switch brands, as noted above they will for myriad reasons. So it makes sense to assure that every touchpoint they have in an omni-channel experience with your brand delights and excites them. “With omni-channel, the same basket data, inventory, promotions, customer account information, and purchase history should be available in all channels,” notes UX (User Experience) Magazine. That means that once a customer engages with you on one channel (for example, putting a purchase in a shopping cart and then leaving that channel), they should be able to resume that shopping activity from another touch-point, with all previous data and input-information intact.

“The importance of creating one-on-one experiences lies at the heart of the omni-channel marketing approach,” said Daniel Newman, president of Broadsuite Media Group, a leader in the B2B space. “Whether it’s B2B or B2C, modern purchasing behavior is driven by personalized engagement, and this is where omni-channel really hits the mark. By letting the buyer control the process and steer it whichever way she wants, you ensure her experience remains seamless and consistent from start to the finish, and perhaps even beyond that.”

Omni-channel interactions are the new wave in the customer experience, and they’re here now. By incorporating such technology in your organization, you send the message that the customer is your No. 1 priority, and increased response, purchase frequency and customer loyalty will follow.

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