In the first article of our omnichannel marketing series, we'll walk you through an uncomplicated introduction to the concept.
What is omnichannel marketing?
Let's start by looking at what the concept of omnichannel marketing means and where it comes from. There is no formal definition of what omnichannel marketing is, but "omni" is a Latin prefix meaning everything or everywhere. You might already be familiar with this through the concept of omnipresence; the ability to be all knowing. It takes a powerful strategy and a lot of resources to live up to this.
When a company puts omnichannel marketing on its business agenda, it is a worthy ambition in itself, as it means that you are conducting your marketing initiatives in such a way that each customer has one coherent and meaningful experience, regardless of when and with what mix of channels (online and offline, locally and globally), he/she chooses to interact with the company.
"If your customers are using multiple channels when researching your products, or if they are interacting with your company through multiple channels, you should consider tackling the big job – and opportunity – that omnichannel marketing represents."
– Rasmus Houlind, founder of the Omnichannel Institute
What does it require?
For omnichannel marketing to be feasible, there are a few key factors you will have to master:
- The ability to identify and recognise the customer
- Collecting data from every customer interaction with the company
- Using the collected data in future communication with the customer
All of this is done regardless of the channel and locale (online and offline, locally and globally). You need to have a handle on your data while also having (easy) access to an extensive range of content. Only then will you have the ability to meet the needs of today's demanding customers.
With this approach, the customer is put in the centre of your marketing strategy. Once she is there, the benefits of a comprehensive, flexible and meaningful experience when interacting with your company – regardless of the channel – will have immense value. And this is what is at the heart of omnichannel marketing.
This is what we all dream of as customers. Never having to give the same answer twice and receiving relevant and valuable content regardless of the channel. Internationally, companies such as Boots, Pier1.com and Macy's offer great examples of targeted omnichannel strategies. In Macy's annual report, the company even defines itself as an "omnichannel-focused retail organisation with shops and websites" as opposed to "a department store that also offers e-commerce".
What are the advantages?
There is no need to pretend, the main draw is long term profitability when considering omnichannel marketing. Helping customers through the buying process in the best possible way has a positive effect on the bottom line.
"When we create a better customer experience, it naturally leads to a greater buying incentive and loyalty."
Rasmus Houlind, founder of the Omnichannel Institute
Make retail great again
For a retail company, omnichannel marketing is also a means to compete with international giants like Zalando and Amazon. It's about combining local, bricks and mortar stores with a digital presence. Retailers can avoid being a showcase for products that can be purchased on Amazon through the collection and use of data and making switching between channels as flexible as possible.
By collecting and analysing data from multiple channels, you'll find the optimal moment for presenting the right message to the right customer on the right channel. Letting customers know when and how they can best make use of your "offer" in this way is beneficial for both parties. The cleverest in the field can even predict which customers will respond positively to offers and use this knowledge to reach the right customers and leave the uninterested customers in peace. All the while the customer, the customer's needs and the customer's experience are central.
Why there's so much buzz about omnichannel marketing
If you are good at linking the right customer situation to the right message, customers will feel more valued. They will reward you for it by using the credit card a little faster, buy more from you than in the past and do this more often. If you manage to do this in a tactful and tasteful way, you can create customer experiences that make them recommend you to their friends. As experienced marketers know and surveys show, it is more costly to cultivate a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.
That is why there is so much buzz about omnichannel marketing.
Source: All illustrations in the article are from the book "Make it all about me...and I'll buy it!" by Rasmus Houlind, founder of the Omnichannel Institute.