Published 16 January 2019 Category: Marketing, e-Commerce, multichannel marketing, multichannel marketing

How Your Business Can Use Omnichannel Marketing

As your business grows and evolves, so do the preferences of your customers.

This is especially true if you’re in retail or have a product to sell.

Just a few years ago, the majority of sales were finalised in physical stores, while e-commerce was merely an afterthought. Today, however, many customers prefer online shopping, not only for the convenience it provides but also because it is highly personalised. Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t still customers who prefer the in-store experience to online shopping.

To ensure the success and longevity of your business, you need to employ a marketing strategy that targets both online and offline customers. This is called omni channel marketing.

What Is Omni-Channel Marketing?

Omni-channel marketing involves the use of all available marketing channels to bring your products and services closer to your customers. The term denotes the ability of your business to create a consistent and seamless experience across all channels. In doing so, you ensure that no group of customers – be they online or offline – feels like they’re missing out on something that the other group is getting.

Marketing channels are typically organised into two groups – online and offline. The former includes email, social media, online marketplaces, websites, and e-commerce platforms, while the latter group includes direct mail, print adverts, face-to-face interactions, as well as event marketing interactions.

Omni-channel marketing is often confused with multi channel marketing. However, whereas the omni-channel approach includes both online and offline channels, multichannel marketing relies solely on online channels. To have an omni-channel strategy, you thus also need to establish an offline presence.

Why Your Business Needs Omni-Channel Marketing

Adopting an omni-channel marketing strategy can help you build stronger, more durable relationships with your consumers. A 2013 study conducted by Aberdeen found that businesses with strong omni-channel strategies retain up to 89 per cent of their customers. That’s almost three times as many as businesses that don’t employ multiple channels in their marketing strategy.

Two years later, an IDC survey found that customers who buy both offline and online have a 30 per cent higher customer lifetime value than those who use just one channel. This means that the customers you attract with an omni-channel strategy will bring you more profit over the course of your relationship.

How to Implement an Omni-Channel Marketing Strategy

If you want to upgrade your current marketing strategy to an omni-channel one, these four tips will help.

1. Study Your Customers’ Behaviour

To develop a foolproof strategy, you need to have a better understanding of your customers. It is thus important to analyse the behaviour of your customers, especially their purchasing decisions.
First of all, you should consider where your customers make their purchases. Do they do it from their home or do they prefer coming to the store and shopping there? If they prefer the in-store experience, do they come with the intent of purchasing something or do they just stop by and browse the store until they find something that they like?

Other important considerations include the times of day when customers buy your products, the frequency of their purchases, their preferred payment methods, as well as the popularity of each of your products. All this information will help you deliver the exact experience your customers want.

2. Combine Your Online and Offline Businesses

As already explained, the omni-channel approach involves a uniform experience across all channels. If you have a physical store, this means that you would sometimes have to integrate it with your online business. For example, you can give your customers the option to check the availability of a product and order it online and then to pick it up at your physical store. This way, they can save time and money, while avoiding coming to the store only to find that the product they want is out of stock.

3. Have an Omni-Channel Loyalty Program

Due to a lack of appropriate technology, many businesses settle for having separate in-store and online loyalty programs. Not allowing your customers to use their online benefits in-store and vice versa can have a negative impact on your business. To avoid this, you need to unify your loyalty program to include all the channels you’re using. If, for example, you award customers points for each purchase they make, their points should add up no matter what platform they’re using.

4. Don’t Overlook Your Offline Customers

Many businesses have shifted the focus of their marketing strategies to the internet, thus neglecting a potentially large number of customers who still prefer the offline shopping experience. Worse yet, they often offer online promotions and discounts while failing to organise them in stores. Needless to say, this can ostracise a lot of your existing customers and discourage others from giving you their trust. To ensure that all your customers are happy, whatever offer you have online must also be available offline.

Final Thoughts

The main rule of omni-channel marketing is simple – your customers should always come first.
You need to ensure that your customers will have a consistent shopping experience whether they’re ordering from your e-commerce website or buying at your physical store. What’s more, you need to provide optimal customer service no matter what channel your customers are using.