Omnichannel marketing, like multichannel marketing before it, gets bandied about like a lot of marketing terms. Usually by people who don’t fully grasp what omnichannel marketing means or understand what it can do for a business.
Despite the term entering into the marketing jargon lexicon, it represents one of the most important shifts in marketing strategy in recent years.
Whereas multichannel marketing focuses on leveraging all channels, omnichannel marketing focuses on a unified communication strategy that leverages the communication channels that are most relevant to your audience.
In basic terms, multichannel is a PA system, blasting out the same message wherever you go. Omnichannel is a thoughtful whisper in the ear, just when you need it.
For eCommerce businesses, this presents a significant opportunity to engage with an audience that’s notoriously difficult to interact with.
This may seem unnecessary when on the surface online customers are primarily focused on price but the eCommerce landscape is changing and businesses need to change with it.
eCommerce and Customer Behaviour
Historically, the eCommerce industry’s success has been predicated on great products, low prices and free shipping.
Customer interaction has been minimal, interacting with businesses only when there’s a problem. This is partly by design. Amazon isn’t known for encouraging their customers to tell them how to run their business. And with good reason.
Amazon’s approach to eCommerce has been the template that every aspiring online entrepreneur has attempted to replicate for years.
The problem is Amazon’s buying power is vast. On an average day, Amazon receives over 1.6 million orders. So unless you’re in a position where you need your own division of courier drivers, you’re not in that league.
Moreover, the customer experience with Amazon is well established and those who use Amazon know exactly what they’re getting in exchange for low prices and next-day delivery.
A faceless, automated service. If there’s a problem with an order, customers have a limited number of options and follow a prescribed route to returning an item, which usually means having to find an Amazon locker somewhere.
As experiences go, it may be slick but it’s not actually that good.
The Tides of Change
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it accelerated a number of issues that were already starting to nag at the periphery of almost every industry in the world. A buckling supply chain.
Anyone working in eCommerce will know how much harder it was to get products and how much more expensive available products were. This drove up prices and drove customers away. Raised on a diet of low prices and free shipping, customers had been trained to only shop for deals.
In the absence of deals, customers shopped wherever was cheapest. Any semblance of loyalty was lost as customers focussed on getting what they wanted at the lowest price.
While the supply chain crisis is slowly abating, customer behaviour hasn’t returned to normal.
Mainly because the behaviours, like the supply chain issues, were already there. The pandemic just exacerbated them.
Removing eCommerce’s main competitive edge over high-street retailers was damaging. Compounded by the fact that when stores reopened there was a sharp rise in footfall and sales. The novelty, it seemed, of going shopping was enough to get people off their smart devices.
But there was another important factor. Going to a shop means interacting with others. Something people couldn’t do in a normal way for the best part of two years.
Customers were happy to pay the higher prices if it meant they had a good experience in the process.
Customers want the same experience from the eCommerce businesses they shop with too. And this is where omnichannel marketing can help.
While it may seem easy to stick with the status quo, it’s not sustainable. Cost prices are still high, and will remain so indefinitely and trying to compete with Amazon’s value add is impossible.
But the data suggests that a disproportionately high number of customers want the businesses they shop with to interact with them more. And this is where you can win.
Omnichannel Marketing in Practice
Assuming you have all your reporting set up correctly, you know where your customers come from. Organic search, paid ads, social media etc.
Equally, you will have an idea of how your social media accounts are interacted with. This gives you the insight you need to determine where your customer base likes to hang out.
Or, more specifically, where they engage with you.
Omnichannel marketing is about creating a seamless experience across all of these channels for each of your customers.
Note we didn’t say identical. Omnichannel marketing isn’t about showing customers the same products if they move from Facebook to Instagram.
Again, you’re not shouting at them until they give in and buy something.
Rather it’s about giving them firstly, a consistent experience from a brand and messaging perspective. And secondly, a personalised experience so, wherever they go they always feel like you’re waiting to welcome them.
This is a powerful way to sell to your audience as it shifts the dynamic away from price and puts the emphasis on customer experience. And, more to the point, value.
Making customers feel valued through delivering value is one of the most effective ways of building customer loyalty.
While loyalty programmes and VIP memberships can help, those are usually built on a transactional relationship. The subtext is ‘we value you so long as you spend money’.
That isn’t sustainable. Especially if your prices are being driven up due to circumstances beyond your control.
Omnichannel marketing changes the dialogue, telling customers that just being a customer is enough to be, and therefore feel, valued.
So, when you devise your omnichannel marketing strategy, you need to approach it from the mindset of delivering the most value to each of your customers. And acknowledge that value will differ from one customer to the next.
Data and Omnichannel Marketing
Omnichannel marketing is at its most effective when the data at your disposal is reliable.
Your first-party data will be invaluable when devising a strategy and executing campaigns. This is largely because it’s data that your customer has given you themselves.
Demographical data, order history, on-site searches all help to build a picture. And while orders shouldn’t equal value in your omnichannel marketing strategy, it will equal a well-rounded picture.
Essentially, the more customers shop with you, the more personalised the experience can become.
This is entirely logical. You can’t communicate with a customer who placed one order for one product as well as one who spends weekly.
However, first-party data isn’t going to tell you how your customer interacts with your social media platforms. Moreover, you can’t create an effective strategy with that information sitting in its own silo. Or silos.
Consolidating your data is an essential part of fully understanding your customers and the first step to creating an omnichannel strategy.
With all your data in one place, you can get a comprehensive understanding of each of your customers and what’s of interest to them.
From here you can segment your customers into buckets based on behaviour, interests, purchase history, demographics and more.
Segmented in this way, you can start to build out your omnichannel marketing campaigns in a hyper-personalised way.
Building Omnichannel Campaigns
For eCommerce businesses, attempting to shift away from a low-price offering, omnichannel marketing is worth serious consideration. It delivers value through relationship building, relevance and, ultimately, trust.
You don’t need to offer customers incentives to shop with you because they will see the value in getting that seamless experience as they move from one touchpoint to the next.
Moreover, they’ll appreciate relevant, personalised recommendations a great deal more than a voucher.
However, if you did want to initiate a reward or loyalty programme, you’re in an ideal position to deliver interest-based rewards. Rather than the usual points on the pound/dollar/euro.
Combining segmented first-party data and the means to engage your audience across channels is powerful.
It’s also what your customers want. Almost 70% of customers prefer to deal with businesses that offer a personalised experience. Over 50% claim that businesses that are engaging with them can do more.
With competition within eCommerce on the rise, and other factors squeezing margins and pushing up prices, there has never been a better time to adopt omnichannel marketing.
To learn more about how a customer data platform and engagement technology can help you adopt an omnichannel marketing strategy, get in touch today and request a demo.
Xtremepush is the world’s leading customer data and engagement data platform. We work with various top brands across multiple industries. Schedule a personalised demo of our platform to learn more about how we can help your brand drive repeat customers and increase revenue.