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Omnichannel Marketing: Not Just Another Buzzword

November 19, 2014

Omnichannel marketing

If you keep up to date with marketing news, you may have spotted mentions of “omnichannel marketing” in blogs and magazine. Omnichannel marketing is the result of a change from mass marketing to personalized communications.

Omnichannel marketing is, in many ways, an evolution of integrated marketing, which saw businesses divide their marketing budget across multiple mediums to reach consumers online, offline, in print, via radio, social media, and using direct mail.

While integrated marketing involved multiple marketing channels, omnichannel marketing is about a universal experience. From PC to tablet, retail store to phone, companies develop a unique experience across platforms and marketing channels.

Confused? Not to worry. Like many other new marketing developments, there’s a great deal of discussion and debate about omnichannel marketing. There’s even a lack of consensus about how to spell it, much like the in early days of ecommerce.

In this guide, we’ll explain what omnichannel marketing is, look at what is involved in an effective campaign, and explore the benefits of omnichannel marketing for your business.

What is omnichannel marketing?

At first glance, “omnichannel marketing” looks like another buzzword. On second glance, it seems like a synonym for “multi-channel marketing.” Omnichannel is all about creating a seamless experience for consumers on any and every platform.

Multi-channel marketing is defined by a focus on multiple marketing channels. As part of a multi-channel campaign, marketers create a message for direct mail, TV, print media, and other platforms that’s consistent in its focus and purpose.

Omnichannel marketing is defined by a universal experience. There’s no separation of marketing channels – instead, a consistent message and experience is delivered to consumers via your website, your mobile app, your direct mail campaign and more.

John Bowden, senior VP of Customer Care at Time Warner Cable, has a simple and clear definition of what omnichannel marketing is all about:

“Multi-channel is an operational view – how you allow the customer to complete transactions in each channel. Omni-channel, however, is viewing the experience through the eyes of your customer, orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent. Omni-channel anticipates that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution.”

What is an omnichannel marketing campaign made of?

One of the keys to successful omnichannel marketing is putting yourself in the shoes of your customer. Instead of thinking of customers as a large, homogeneous block, a multichannel marketer segments them based on experience and behavior.

The result is a campaign that transcends platforms and channels. Buying one item in a retail store could result in a personalized email or direct mail postcard with complementary items to buy online. Instead of filling a basket in-store, retail shoppers could browse on an iPad.

These aren’t theoretical implementations of omnichannel marketing – many of them are already in use today. UK retail brand M&S already allows customers to navigate its brochure on their iPad before checking out in-store instead of waiting in line.

The defining characteristic of omnichannel marketing is a seamless experience from one platform to another. Instead of looking online and buying in store, omnichannel marketing blends all platforms – digital, print, mail, or retail – into a single experience.

What are the biggest benefits of omnichannel marketing?

Omnichannel marketing has a wide range of advantages. One of the biggest benefits is its ability to massively increase the level of interaction and connection that customers have with your brand.

Instead of researching your products on a review website, finding your location on Google Maps, finding the products in your store and completing the sales process at the checkout, customers can simplify things and increase engagement.

With omnichannel marketing, your online store can automatically tell shoppers how to find your nearest store and save their cart. When they arrive, their products have already been organized, wrapped and checked out, ready for them to purchase.

Instead of marketing to your customers as a single block of people, you can deliver a personalized message based on a customer’s habits. Buying a pair of sports shoes can trigger an email marketing message listing sports shirts, shorts and socks you offer.

Omnichannel marketing adds value for users and makes them more informed of the products you offer and your brand’s values. It also adds value for your business by increasing engagement with customers and delivering a more personal experience.

Like all new marketing strategies, there’s debate and discussion about omnichannel marketing and its benefits. One thing, however, is clear: omnichannel marketing has a serious positive effect for shoppers and businesses alike, and it looks like it’s here to stay.