Understanding your target audience these days can be a bit of a challenge. They move from device to device, and sometimes behave in ways that defy traditional multichannel marketing tactics. That’s why there’s so much buzz now about ‘omnichannel’ marketing.
In this article, we’ll provide an overview of what omnichannel marketing is and why it’s useful. We’ll also offer five key tips to help you get started with audience segmentation, channel testing, analytics, and more.
What You Need to Understand About Omnichannel Marketing
The customer journey in a traditional multichannel approach to marketing might look like this: the customer encounters a billboard on their morning commute, a radio ad in their office lobby, and a newspaper ad in their local daily paper. While this approach reaches the customer, it doesn’t necessarily provide an engaging experience along the way.
With omnichannel marketing, advertising touchpoints become part of interactive customer experiences. While omnichannel marketing is a multichannel approach, the two are not synonymous. Omnichannel marketing focuses on the customer experience, not the individual channel.
A multichannel strategy becomes an omnichannel approach when all channels are aligned and consistent in messaging, while providing the user with a seamless experience.
Starbucks offers an example of a successful omnichannel marketing approach in action. The coffee giant aims to make the customer’s life as easy as possible, regardless of the channel they are currently on.
The Benefits of an Omnichannel Marketing Approach
Customers expect to be able to move from device to device seamlessly, and keep picking up where they left off. If a customer visits the Starbucks website instead of the mobile app, there’s an assumption that they won’t have to relearn how to navigate the layout to order their coffee or replenish their payment method.
Omnichannel marketing strategies are essential to meeting that expectation. No matter where the consumer ultimately buys a product, however, statistics indicate that they are influenced by many forms of marketing. Simply put, omnichannel strategies are good for business.
There’s still a lot of work to be done, however. Even though we know omnichannel strategies work, 55% of consumers say they experience disconnects across their retail experiences. That means adopting this approach is a smart way to stand out from the competition.
How to Get Started With Omnichannel Marketing (5 Key Tips)
So, how can you take a multichannel strategy and evolve it into an engaging omnichannel experience? These key tips will get you started.
1. Segment Your Audience
Audience segmentation is all about targeting the right people at the right time. Understanding your audience and knowing what your ideal customer profile is will help you design the best omnichannel strategy for them.
A classic approach to audience segmentation includes looking into four broad categories:
- Demographic: This includes customer information such as age, gender, education, family size, and occupation.
- Psychographic: This encompasses details that are less pre-determined or biological, like social class, lifestyle choices, attitudes, and more.
- Geographical: This is simply a customer’s location, and can be as localized or as broad as you like.
- Behavioral: This is also the meat and potatoes of customer data, including stats on loyalty, user behavior, website usage, device choices, and shopping habits.
Amazon is one of the behemoths in audience segmentation, and prides itself on knowing what you want before you want it. It may seem obvious that you should know your customer and deliver the right product to them. However, having an automated strategy for collecting the necessary data is a key step in successful omnichannel marketing.
2. Use Tracking Technology
So, now you know that you need a lot of data to inform the strategy for your omnichannel marketing plan. In order to capture that data, you’ll need the right technologies.
As you build up your data collection resource kit, there are several tools to consider, including:
- Personalization APIs. When you use an already existing account to automatically create an account for a service on a new website, you’re using a personalization API. This is a powerful data tool for marketers.
- Machine learning. This is the use of algorithms to categorize and organize data, so the machine can learn from it and deliver predictive modeling. It’s a huge time-saver for omnichannel strategies.
- Collaborative filtering. Essentially, this employs the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) principle to target customers. It uses recommendations from other people to make suggestions to new audience members.
If you frequent services like Netflix, Amazon or iTunes, you are being served up recommendations as a result of the collaborative efforts of these tracking technologies.
3. Be Your Own Customer
The ‘secret shopper’ concept of testing customer service can be upgraded for omnichannel marketing. Artificial intelligence and data analytics can help here, although they aren’t the only options.
There are several approaches to testing your omnichannel experience, including:
- Personal experience. Make sure you’ve actually tried to purchase something from your own store. See where the problem points might be for a customer, and use that to make adjustments.
- Quantitative data. Measurements like conversion rates across channels, bounce rates, or operating system stats help you understand where customers are dropping out, and investigate possible adjustments.
- Qualitative data. This will tell you how the buying experience makes customers feel. You can use customer surveys as a tool to learn about that experience and see if they would recommend your business to a friend.
Testing your channels and experiences, and understanding them from the customer perspective, is vital to omnichannel marketing success.
4. Be Responsive Across Environments
Responsive design and omnichannel marketing work hand-in-hand. If your target audience is moving back and forth between devices, then you should too.
There are several things you can do to optimize your customers’ omnichannel experience, including:
- Avoid silos. Building your marketing teams by channel is counterintuitive to the omnichannel approach. In other words, make sure all your teams are training and working across channels to improve user experiences.
- Fill gaps. Make sure there are bridges connecting all of your channels. For example, you could use a Facebook eCommerce integration that enables customers to make a purchase online, but opt to pick up the product in your physical store.
- Build responsively. Since 98% of Americans switch between devices during a single day, marketers can’t afford to focus on just one device or channel.
Applying responsive design principles to content development can take your omnichannel efforts farther, and improve their odds for success.
5. Respond to Behaviors
Finally, applying all of your hard-earned data is crucial to the ongoing cycle of observing and adjusting your approach in an omnichannel marketing strategy. Once you take the available information into consideration, there are a few ways you can respond to customer behaviors.
- Adapt to technology. With the increased use of smart watches, smart speakers, pillows that can determine how well you slept, and more, it’s important for businesses to create agile marketing plans. This means incorporating new technology such as immersive virtual environments and AI into your omnichannel portfolio.
- Cross-screen identification. As users access multiple devices throughout their customer journeys, cross-screen identifiers can help tie data together for marketers. This approach is especially useful in understanding the user journey prior to conversion.
Creating user journey maps, and using data analytics to adjust the customer experience in response to key behaviors, is all part of an omnichannel marketing strategy.
Getting started with omnichannel marketing may require a shift from focusing your efforts on the channel to the user. Building your data collection and analysis toolkit can be time-consuming, but this approach can give you the information you need to successfully enhance the user experience.
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