A Definition of Omni-Channel Marketing
Omni-channel marketing has become key to marketing success as customers engage with companies in a variety of ways, including in a physical store, online via websites and mobile apps, through physical and virtual catalogs, and through social media. Consumers also utilize landlines and smartphones or tablets to search for products, access services, and make purchases. People also interact with brands and companies using apps on smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, and laptops. The challenge for organizations is to make all of these interactions and experiences as seamless, consistent, and effective as possible for customers.
Organizations must employ omni-channel marketing methods and strategies in order to meet customers where they are. Consumers expect more personalized communication with companies through the various channels and devices they use, and companies that do not keep up with the shift are losing ground to their competitors that do. Time Warner Cable senior VP of customer care John Bowden says organizations that are most successful with omni-channel marketing view it through the eyes of the customer, « orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent. Omni-channel anticipates that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution. »
Omni-Channel Marketing Challenges
One of the most significant challenges marketers and their organizations face when shifting to omni-channel strategies is knowing the difference between omni-marketing and multi-channel marketing. Because so many organizations struggle to make the jump from business-centric to customer-centric practices, they also struggle to put the customer at the forefront when they create integrated experiences for customers.
Breaking down silos and breaking free of traditional marketing campaigns also is difficult for some organizations when they first adopt omni-channel marketing practices. The shift to omni-channel also requires buy-in from the entire organization and a shift in company culture. As Leah Stigile, VP of global business for Toms Shoes points out, « Luckily, we have buy-in from across the organization for omni-channel, » and her company proactively works to ensure cohesion over time, especially with events such as their annual one day without shoes event to help people across all customer touchpoints band together around a unified message to drive awareness about people lacking necessities such as shoes.
Omni-Channel Marketing Best Practices
Stacy Schwartz, digital marketing expert, consultant, and adjunct professor at Rutgers Business School, echoes the notion that an omni-channel approach must be a customer-centric marketing approach: « It acknowledges that mobile and social have enabled customers to not only quickly switch between channels, but actually use channels simultaneously. For example, checking out product reviews on their mobile phone while evaluating a product on a physical retail store shelf. »
The best omni-channel marketing strategies account for the fact that customers engage with companies in a variety of ways across platforms, and they ensure consistent experiences every time. Customers look for receiving personalized interactions and conversations with brands. Some of the best practices for omni-channel marketing include
- Accounting for each platform and device customers use to interact with the company and then delivering an integrated experience to align messaging, goals, objectives, and design across each channel and device
- Developing a unique omni-channel infrastructure with collaboration between several departments
- Adopting new technologies: make sure your site is optimized for mobile and enable customers to stop directly from social media sites
- Considering virtual reality experiences for customers
- Testing customer experiences and measure everything
- Segmenting your audience
- Listening and responding on preferred channels and devices
- Personalizing experiences and offering the most convenient interactions as possible
Omni-channel marketing is a must as customers and organizations have unprecedented access to digital technologies and channels. Our uber-connected world has created mounds of customer data for companies; if they use it correctly, they will be able to key into customer affinities and behavior to adopt omni-channel strategies and solutions to better manage the data, understand customers, and exceed customers’ expectations at each and every interaction.
Further Reading on Omni-Channel Marketing
For further information on omni-channel marketing, visit our blog. For your convenience, we have linked to three of our most recent omni-channel marketing posts below: