Marketing used to be a lot less complicated.
Today, users interact with brands on multiple devices and separate platforms—often simultaneously. Even in-person and online shopping, which used to be distinct events, are no longer completely separate due to the rise of trends like buy-online-pick-up-in-person.
Consumer expectations are shifting as well.
Today’s customers expect to receive the same service and brand experience whether they’re scrolling Facebook, reading their email, or shopping in a store.
How do you give your customers what they want and deliver a better experience? With omnichannel marketing.
Omnichannel marketing provides users with a seamless marketing experience across all platforms, channels, and devices throughout the marketing funnel. The core goal of omnichannel marketing is to place the customer at the center of all marketing strategies and provide a consistent, seamless experience.
Omnichannel marketing is growing in popularity, with 67 percent of e-commerce companies saying omnichannel is “very” or “quite” important to their business.
While implementation of an omnichannel strategy can vary between businesses, it can be identified by key goals, including:
personalized content and ads informed by past interactions with specific users
consistent branding, tone, and vision across all platforms
allowing users to continue their purchase path seamlessly, even if they switch platforms or devices
When implemented correctly, omnichannel marketing offers a host of benefits for both brands and their customers. According to Invesp, companies using omnichannel strategies retain 89 percent of their customers, while brands that don’t keep just 33 percent of their customers.
Several other benefits include:
Improved user experience: Omnichannel marketing centers the customer experience, providing a better experience for customers no matter where they interact with your brand.
Better brand awareness: Creating a consistent experience across platforms (including in-store) makes it easier for customers to recognize your brand.
Improved business data: Omnichannel tracks interactions across platforms, channels, and even in-person sales. This highlights which campaigns (and channels) are most effective at driving leads and sales.
Increased sales and revenue: Marketers that use three or more channels in one campaign see a 287 percent higher purchase rate. Omnichannel campaigns also have a higher order rate.
A bar graph showing the difference in order rate between omnichannel and single-channel marketing campaigns.
Today, most brands realize customers engage with them on multiple channels. However, implementing an omnichannel strategy can feel overwhelming. Let’s look at a few brands that are getting it right.
Starbucks is more than just an in-person coffee shop and remote working haven.
They also offer online ordering through their mobile rewards app. Customers can upload money to the app, place curb-side orders, and even claim rewards.
An example of effective omnichannel marketing from Starbucks.
How do they improve omnichannel with their app?
First, Starbucks offers rewards to app users, which encourages them to use the app. The app regularly pushes special rewards, such as earning extra points for ordering in the next two days or trying a new drink.
When customers use the app, it allows Starbucks to track in-store behavior—data they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. The app then offers recommendations and promotes seasonal drinks to drive sales.
Disney is a pioneer in omnichannel marketing. The brand has expertly navigated combining in-person, online, and television marketing for decades.
The brand’s omnichannel marketing really stands out in its My Disney Experience platform for visiting their park. Users can access the tool via app or browser and buy tickets, book hotels, reserve restaurants, schedule activities, coordinate with other users, and even store photos they take at the park.
Once users arrive at the park, the built-in GPS helps them find locations in the park, see real-time wait times at rides, and access the Disney MagicPass, a contactless version of the MagicBand. The app also promotes discounts, like 25 percent off hotel stays for Disney+ subscribers.
Providing a seamless experience from online to in-person helps make customers’ Disney adventure even more magical.
Warby Parker, a well-known eye-glass company, was originally only available online. In recent years, they began to leverage omnichannel marketing. In addition to allowing customers to order up to five pairs of glasses to try on at home (one of their most popular offers,) they now have many brick-and-mortar stores.
An example of effective omnichannel marketing from Warby Parker.
However, they didn’t just create stores to sell more glasses—they’re committed to combining data from in-person interactions and online interactions. Warby Parker co-founder Dave Gilboa shared:
“We really focused on providing a great online experience but an offline as well. We have 70 stores and we’ll have 90 by the end of the year. We can see a clear path to several hundred stores in addition to a thriving ecommerce business.”
How does it work? Customers can favorite frames on the app, which in-store associates can then access to help them complete the purchase in person.
Shoppers can also try on glasses in the store and take a photo, which is converted into a link and sent to their email to complete the purchase online.
Omnichannel marketing allows businesses to deliver the right message to the right customer at the right moment, driving sales, increasing customer loyalty, and providing a better customer experience.
Getting it right is no easy task. Here are five steps to building a better omnichannel strategy.
Omnichannel marketing creates a seamless customer journey. To do that, you need to understand the path your customers take when making a purchase.
Creating a customer journey map helps you better understand where customers interact with your brand, provides insights into their pain points, and makes it easier to create an effective omnichannel marketing strategy.
Here’s how to create your map:
Identify your customers: Identity who your customers are, where they live, and other demographic information. Look in your CRM or use a current buyer persona.
Understand their pain points: What drives your customers to make a purchase? What challenges do they want to solve?
Find out where they hang out: What platforms do your customers use during the purchase process?
Track the path of conversion: How do most of your customers convert? Keep in mind their path is unlikely to be straight. They might visit your in-store and then convert online, or view your Instagram reels and then visit your store. Aim to define the most common paths.
Once you’ve created your customer journey map, look at your conversion tracking data to find areas where customers are dropping off. Depending on how you track, this might be in Google Analytics or your sales platform. Customer satisfaction surveys may also provide insights.
Creating a consistent brand presence is a small part of omnichannel marketing, but it is crucial. Make sure all platforms use similar branding, tone, colors, and marketing messages.
Next, look at customer surveys (or create one!) and reviews to find out where customers aren’t happy. For example, you might find your website is too hard to use or your app is glitchy. Users might open every email you send but never engage on social media.
Once you see where your message doesn’t resonate, make plans to improve it. Does your audience prefer a different format, or more helpful content?
Remember, the goal is to be consistent, not identical. For example, your website might offer live chat—that doesn’t mean your social media channels need it, too. Instead, make sure the information, including things like what is in stock, is consistent where it is available. You don’t want a customer to see something is in-stock online and then show up to the store to find it is sold out.
A report by Segment found that 71 percent of consumers feel frustrated when their shopping experience is impersonal. Even more striking, 91 percent of customers are more likely to shop with brands that deliver personally relevant offers and recommendations.
You can’t ignore personalization—it’s increasingly popular and customers expect it. Luckily, omnichannel marketing can help you leverage the strategy more effectively.
Personalization is the key to a successful omnichannel strategy, but it’s about a lot more than using the name tag in your email marketing. Rather, omnichannel marketing leverages data about customers to deliver ultra-relevant marketing messages at just the right time.
What does omnichannel personalization look like? While it can vary by brand and industry, here are a few examples:
A customer adds an item to their cart, but they don’t check out. Later, you send an email with a link to their cart, a discount, and a reminder to complete their purchase.
Using segmentation, you email different product recommendations to customers who purchase children’s clothing versus adult workout clothing.
A customer tells an e-commerce chatbot what types of cleaning products they are interested in. Later, a customized popup promotes a special on the products that the customer is interested in.
Omnichannel personalization takes personalization to the next level by delivering relevant messages across platforms.
Omnichannel marketing requires gathering and leveraging data—and developing different funnel paths for different types of customers. The problem is most marketing teams don’t have the time to manage this process manually.
Omnichannel marketing tools make it easier to gather and leverage data to build a better user experience. Your stack will vary by channel, industry, and the size of your company, but there are a few key platforms to consider.
Data collection: Omnichannel marketing uses data to understand customers’ paths and deliver a better experience. If you don’t have Google Analytics 4 set up, now is the time. Consider using a BI tool like Power BI or Google Data Studio to analyze data and create reports.
Marketing automation: Whether you want to engage more on social media, send scheduled emails, or move users through the conversion process, you need marketing automation tools to build an effective omnichannel marketing strategy. Many tools you already use, like email marketing, CRMs, and social media management, have built-in automation features. I also recommend a tool like Zapier to build custom triggers.
Chatbot automation: Want to be there for your customers even in the middle of the night? A well-designed chatbot script can answer questions, deliver resources, and qualify leads while you sleep.
Segmentation platform: One of the key benefits of omnichannel marketing is the ability to offer a more personalized experience. To do that, you have to segment your audience. Depending on your industry, this might mean using dynamic landing pages or a tool like Omnisend to send more personalized emails, pop-ups, and even push notifications.
Building an omnichannel strategy isn’t a one-time endeavor. To be effective, you must constantly test, retest, and tweak your strategy. Over time consumer behaviors change, and you need to be ready.
The segmentation tools I mentioned in the previous section often offer testing features, or you can use Google’s Optimize or Optimizely to test audiences, content, landing pages, and even button color changes.
If you’re new to testing, this guide to A/B testing will get you started. It can feel overwhelming at first, but I think you’ll uncover really interesting data if you stick with it. Testing and optimizing drive ROI, so you’ll build a better campaign.
What are the benefits of an omnichannel marketing strategy?
Omnichannel marketing provides a better user experience, increases retention rates, improves data collection, and makes connecting online and offline experiences easier. Together, all those benefits drive sales and ROI.
What is the difference between multichannel marketing and omnichannel marketing?
The biggest difference is that omnichannel marketing focuses on improving the customer experience, while multichannel marketing focuses on increasing customer engagement. Omnichannel also recognizes that customers may use multiple channels simultaneously.
What are the best omnichannel marketing tools?
The main tools you’ll need to implement omnichannel marketing are tools for all the channels your users engage on, like email, SMS, or social media. Automation tools, including chatbots, are also highly effective for omnichannel marketing. Finally, you need a robust analytics program, like Google Analytics 4, to track user interactions on both the web and apps.
What is an example of omnichannel marketing?
One of the best examples of omnichannel marketing is Starbucks’ reward app, which allows them to track in-person interactions, send personalized recommendations, and increase customer engagement.
The future of marketing is connected. Unlike multichannel marketing, which seeks to push out similar messages on multiple channels, omnichannel marketing focuses on bringing experiences together into a seamless experience that customers love.
Before you get started, make sure you understand who your customers are and look for marketing automation tools that will help you build a stronger omnichannel campaign.
Are you using omnichannel marketing? What challenges are you facing?