The world is more connected than ever before—from our TVs to our wearables to our phones to the Internet of Things. The good news: that presents marketers with an ever growing opportunity—more and more ways to connect with our customers. Of course, the ever growing number of channels also makes it harder to define our customers’ journeys to conversion. Customers have choices in which channels to use when—websites, email, apps, etc.—and we have to understand and manage those channels to find the right way to reach them.
While brick and mortar stores have regular hours, websites and mobile sites are always open for business. Customers interact with brands around the clock and they expect responsiveness around the clock, too. To reach customers in this multi-channel environment, brands have to build a synchronized, consistent, and complementary marketing approach across all devices and channels. That’s “omnichannel marketing.”
What is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel marketing is a strategic and highly coordinated approach to marketing where brands aim to be where their customers are, when they want them to be there, and how they want them to be there. Is a customer in the store? Shopping online? Shopping in an app? With an omnichannel marketing approach, brands seek to reach customers with the appropriate message in whatever channel they’re using in that moment, all in real-time.
To build this kind of strategy, you have to look at the customer journey from the perspective of the customer. To them, these marketing channels aren’t silos—they expect brand consistency across every channel. The trick of omnichannel marketing is balancing that brand consistency with the unique needs and capabilities of each channel to reach the customer in the right way at the right time.
Building a synchronized approach
So how do we build an effective omnichannel marketing strategy? Here are some tips to get you on the right track:
1. Learn about your customers with user profiles
The foundation of a successful omnichannel marketing strategy is the user profile. The channels may be fragmented, but the user is the same from channel to channel. You can collect information every time your users interact with your brand to build a complete picture of who your customers are. User profiles can tell you how they’re interacting with your brand on each channel and what steps they take to get to conversion.
With user profile information, marketers can target specific customers according to their preferences and behaviors to create individual campaigns at scale.
2. Segment based on data
Even though the customers drive the journey, marketers can segment data to understand where customers are in the funnel and what messages will reach them. For example, a message to someone who is new to the brand should be different from a message sent to an existing customer—they’re at different places in the funnel and have different relationships with the brand. Your user profile data can help you segment your marketing efforts to get the right messages to the right people.
In addition to segmenting your customers by their place in the funnel—their lifecycle stage—you can also segment them by how they interact with your brand’s channels. Maybe you have users who spend a lot of time on your app but never take action. You could prompt them through the app to make a purchase or to try a different channel. Maybe your website visitors frequently leave items sitting in their shopping cart. You can send them an email to remind them not to miss out on that purchase.
Your omnichannel marketing strategy should focus on using this data to maximize your impact across each channel.
3. Onboard and retain
It’s basic good business—you need to both acquire new customers and retain current ones. Your omnichannel marketing strategy should take those two goals into account. A strong onboarding campaign will let your newly-acquired customers know all that your brand has to offer, upping your chances of keeping them around. Onboarding with multiple channels can increase retention by 130%, according to Appboy research.
The good thing about existing customers is that they’re likely already plugged in to your channels. You can send them emails or push notifications to keep your brand fresh in their minds. Customers who have already opted in for push and to your email subscription list are showing confidence that your brand will continue to engage them in relevant ways. Don’t let them down—use your channels to give them the value they’re seeking.
4. Follow the customer
The customer path is rarely linear—and that’s okay. They often start in one channel and eventually convert in another. In fact, there might be several “channel jumps” before conversion. Your omnichannel marketing strategy and your development team have to work together to make sure that the experience is consistent across channel jumps. That means the interface should be consistent and recognizable, but it also means taking advantage of that user profile data to make shopping easier. For example, if a user puts something in their cart on the app and then opens your website in their browser, that item should show up in their cart.
This type of brand responsiveness makes it easier for the customer to convert and also builds trust—you’re showing that you care about your customer’s experience.
5. Set up your data collection to work for you
Collecting data from all your customer-facing teams will show you where your customers are converting successfully, what channels are underperforming, and what problems your customers are having. Be sure your data collection strategies allow you to attribute information to all the channels you’re using. Incorrect or imprecise attributions can lead to confusion. For example, it’s useful to know that your onboarding campaign isn’t working as well for the customers acquired by social media as it is for customers acquired by your retargeting ads. You could use that knowledge to build out different onboarding experiences for these different groups, experiences that better speak to their expectations and interests.
The bottom line
Today, we have a wide choice of channels for engaging with our customers. The key to a successful omnichannel marketing strategy is collecting the right data to shape the way you reach out through each channel. You can build a better brand experience for every customer.