There’s tactics and trends that come and go and are good for some businesses but not others. Things like live broadcasting, chatbots, and micro-moments. Then there’s things like SEO, AI and social media, things that are essential for pretty much every business.
Omni-channel marketing is on this second list.
It might sound like a buzzword you don’t need to take much notice of, but soon enough it will be standard practice for any business or brand worth talking about.
Omni-channel marketing is essentially just a fancy name for joining the dots between desktop, mobile, in-store, and any other of your business’ touchpoints, so that, whatever journey the customer chooses to take, the experience is always consistent and seamless.
We’re in the age of the customer. If someone can’t engage with your business using the medium they prefer at whatever time they choose — and receive an experience that’s personal, contextual, and convenient — then they can and will go elsewhere.
Expectations are fast-rising along with technological capabilities and competition. Today, customers can receive instant responses by speaking to a chatbot on a website. They can access content offline using super fast PWAs. They can ask Alexa or Siri to be updated about an order. And they can do all of that and more from an app on their smartphone.
You can already see that the brands who’re standing out and pulling away are the ones that are unifying their channels and experiences across the board. So before they get too far ahead, let’s dive into some of the main reasons why you should be using omnichannel marketing too.
Attention trumps all
If anyone knows about the importance of keeping themselves front and centre of the customers’ attention, it’s Amazon.
More than fifteen million people in Britain are Amazon Prime members. Likewise nearly half of the entire population of the US. The next-day delivery and video and music service is Amazon’s key to maintaining its position as an essential part of the customers’ life.
The reason why Amazon is pushing Prime so hard and not, say, focusing solely on selling more Echos, is because it understands the primary good it sells is not groceries or entertainment, but time.
Most people don’t care who’s behind what they consume. Whether it’s Amazon selling them their vegetables or Facebook giving them their news; what matters is that it’s delivered in the most convenient way.
It’s why Prime members spend more than twice as much as non-Prime ones. And it’s also why having an effective omni-channel strategy, that gives your customers the freedom and control to search and buy from wherever they choose, is essential for surviving in an environment of dwindling attention and proliferating devices.
Go personal or go home
While it may appear like omni-channel marketing is all about being everyone at once, spreading your brand thin across every channel possible is the outdated, multi-channel approach. Omni-channel is simply about appearing to your customers like you are everyone at once.
The difference is you are only where you need to be, and you’re there in style. After all, no matter how effective Instagram is said to be, what’s the point in running a huge campaign if your audience are baby boomers? Likewise, why spend all your budget on Google Ads if your audience is gen z who use Instagram or Snapchat as their default home for the web?
Where multi-channel marketing focuses on increasing the number of channels and touchpoints and expanding your reach, omni-channel first thinks about where the customer is. In this way, you can offer a personalised experience and make it so that, whichever device or channel they like to use, it’s like they’re interacting with one consistent brand.
For example, you may sell children’s toys instore and online, but find the two lack consistency. You could use a personalised omni-channel marketing strategy to bridge the gap. Eighty percent of customers use their phones while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. You may ask how can your mobile experience can complement the in-store experience, and vice versa.
It sounds simple, but few businesses are doing it — at least for now.
Joe Hunt is a freelance writer based out of Leeds and Barcelona. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Medium to find more articles on work, technology, mindfulness, and everything in between.