Most people use multiple devices (on average, three) to access the Internet throughout the day. They often begin their web journey right in bed, with a mobile phone in hand. They may continue at their office computer, then spend the evening with a home laptop on their knees.
As an entrepreneur selling your products and services online, it makes sense to cover all channels used by your clients, and not just opt for a single venue for promotions. More importantly, you should make sure the user experience you provide is smooth and uninterrupted, no matter how many devices your customers utilize.
What is Omni-Channel Marketing?
The concept of “omni-channel” means that brands reach their target audiences in multiple ways, enabling users to migrate from one channel to another without losing the data generated during previous sessions.
If a customer starts viewing your company’s catalog on their home PC and adds a product to their cart, they should be able to open the same catalog on their mobile phone and complete their purchase. There should be no need to view the catalog again, search for the product and return it to the cart. Your customer should be able to click the “Buy” button and complete their purchase on any device.
Omni-channel marketing saves customers time, makes their buying experience more pleasant and comfortable and increases the likelihood that they will remain on their path to the order page.
Your omni-channel marketing strategy may include not only digital platforms but also traditional promotional channels, such as billboard ads, promotions in brick-and-mortar stores and newspapers. But in one way or another, these channels should be synced with your online platform. For example, representatives in your retail store can collect data and help customers create an account on your website.
Building a Win-Win Omni-Channel Marketing Strategy
Now that you understand the benefits of omni-channel marketing, how do you begin to make the most of this approach?
First of all, you should conduct thorough research to get a general idea of your target audience and their buying behavior. Try to understand how you can make their lives easier and, therefore, drive more sales. Once you have defined the needs of your audience, you can brainstorm some solutions with your team and devise a plan for their implementation, and for gauging results.
Follow the detailed step-by-step guide below to succeed at omnichannel marketing.
1. Walk in the Customer’s Shoes
To understand what your customers want, act like a customer. As a buyer, how would you want an online store to work? Review your catalog, add something to your cart, and try to place an order.
Repeat the process on multiple devices (PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone). Does everything work smoothly? Are there any technical issues? Is page loading quickly? Are all page designs and forms visually appealing? All these small nuances contribute to a brilliant customer experience, so don’t overlook them.
2. Collect Customer Feedback
The most effective way to learn the opinions of your clients is to ask them directly. Hold surveys and invite customers to share their impressions in the product reviews section. Reach out at different stages of the customer journey to detect your strengths and weaknesses.
Avoid being overly intrusive. People today are busy and do not like to be bothered with irrelevant questions. There is nothing more annoying than a sales agent calling during work hours and asking for feedback. Your requests should be factual and polite, and should ideally offer some incentive, like a discount or free shipping.
Also, do not ignore negative feedback. Evaluate negative comments for validity, and see what you can change to make improvements. You will never get to the next level if you only listen to accolades and ignore criticism.
3. Convey the Omni-Channel Philosophy to Your Colleagues
Prior to implementing any changes, you should explain their purpose and feasibility to your teammates. After all, each employee contributes to the success of your venture. Your team will work more efficiently if you acknowledge the important role played by every operation in your company.
Every team member should understand the importance of your clients’ interests and be guided by them when making decisions throughout the workday. For example:
When sending an email message, a marketer should provide the recipient with only the most relevant and useful information.
- Administrators of your online store should make sure it looks great and operates without a hitch.
- Customer support specialists should sincerely empathize and try to address clients’ problems, and not merely go through the motions.
- Manage all your departments and work processes as a single well-synced system, since synchronization is the very foundation of the omni-channel approach.
4. Personalize Your Messages
If you sell a diverse variety of products, your target audience is probably also a mixed bag. It would not make sense to approach all your customers with the same offers. You will be wasting energy and resources, and possibly even alienating some clients with irrelevant messages.
To avoid this, find ways to categorize your target audience into segments, and develop a unique approach for each category. Use the following criteria:
- Personal data: Age, gender, location, occupation, interests, etc. All this information can be easily accessed from your clients’ social media profiles.
- Preferred channels and campaigns: Which offers do your customers most often respond to, and on which devices?Shopping behavior: How often do your clients place orders, and at which stages
- What makes them abandon the customer journey, or push the “Buy” button?
You can use combine criteria from several categories to create a more personalized marketing approach.
Collecting and analyzing all customer data manually can be a challenge. Happily, there are plenty of automated tools that can help you compile statistics, monitor your clients’ behavior, and send automated messages in response to specific actions.
5. Tailor Your Content to Preferred Devices
Giving your customers a seamless user experience is a priority, no matter how many times they switch devices while moving from your homepage to the order page. Preferred goods and items in a buyer’s cart should be saved in the system and appear consistently, no matter which device the buyer shifts to.
When compiling your omnichannel content strategy, keep in mind that your website will display differently on various devices. If your users open a desktop version on their smartphone, they will have to pinch and zoom, which can be very annoying. In addition, desktop pages will load slowly on mobile. Make sure your content looks great on different devices, and on screens of different sizes.
Order forms for mobile devices should include the least amount of fields necessary. It is best to opt for “Yes/No” questions that can be answered with a single tap.
6. Ongoing Analysis and Refinement
It may be difficult to come up with a brilliant omni-channel content strategy on the first try. As they say, “The first pancake is always a bit tricky.” However, you can work toward perfection by continually analyzing and improving your marketing campaign.
Collect measurable metrics to assess the impact of various solutions on your overall performance. Compare the results of different approaches and tools. Look at your brand through your customers’ eyes to make your website more appealing over time.
Cutting-Edge Technologies for Omni-Channel Marketing
As previously mentioned, you do not need to collect and analyze all your customers’ information manually, or communicate with every client personally. Using the latest technologies can greatly simplify the day-to-day marketing processes in your company.
Not long ago, artificial intelligence was seen as the precursor to tech apocalypse, as depicted in science fiction films like The Terminator. Today, AI is used on the websites of almost all large companies. AI can scan the history of user activity on your website and make recommendations based on which products were viewed, searched for or added to a cart.
To help your clients comfortably juggle different devices, you should keep all valuable information in a single data management system. For example, information on your customers’ actions on social media should not be saved in your social media accounts only. You can extract them to a unified data center in order to compile individualized emails or add images with the largest number of likes to a product catalog on your website.
AI can be also very useful for segmenting your target audience. It will analyze your clients’ buying behavior, divide them into categories, and apply specific solutions for engaging each category. For example, it will send different messages to first-time users who viewed your catalog, versus repeat customers who have suddenly abandoned your online store.
Omnichannel marketing is not an option, it is a requirement in today’s dynamic world where important decisions are often made on the go. To achieve success and stand out from your competition, your brand should be flexible and provide a unified user experience on different devices. As a result, you will:
- sync all your channels to a single easy-to-manage system;
- improve brand representation;
- make a long-term commitment to tomorrow’s dynamic world, where new channels will no doubt emerge;
- gain more loyal customers and conversions;
- take your business to the next level by transforming it from a regular online store into a powerful customer-oriented enterprise.
Sticking to the omnichannel approach will provide your clients with high-end service that will inspire them to crown you Market Leader.