Omni-Channel Marketing – Is Being Present Enough for Your E-Commerce Brand?
What Is Omni-Channel Marketing vs. Multichannel Marketing?
We have so much jargon in our industry and it often changes, thanks to the lightning speed of e-commerce. Various definitions float around for omni-channel marketing. And to make things even more complicated, other terms often get confused with it.
First, let’s define some similar-sounding terms, so we’re on the same page for this article.
Channels are the way your company decides to reach potential customers. They can include a brick-and-mortar store, a website, online and offline ads, YouTube videos, podcasts, public relations efforts, billboards, blogs, social media posts, email campaigns, newsletters, influencer reviews, and on and on.
On the flip side, Contact Channels are how your potential and existing customers can contact your company.
Any channel is about contact and communication, whether you’re the one making contact or your prospect or existing customer is making contact.
Multi-Channel Marketing uses more than one channel to communicate with your customers and market your online or offline products. With multichannel marketing, none of those channels integrate with any others. In other words, each is separate and distinct unto itself.
At its extreme, multichannel marketing is like having a family who isn’t on speaking terms with each other. They’re only related because they had the same parents and last names. Many e-commerce brands think they are using omnichannel marketing when they are actually using multichannel marketing.
If that’s you, don’t feel bad – you are not alone.
Omni-Channel Marketing also uses more than one channel to communicate with your potential and existing customers and market your e-commerce brand. But with omni-channel marketing, each channel is integrated with every other channel. That means all channels build off of the customer’s channel experiences in an integrated manner.
Your prospects and existing customers see and hear a unified brand voice, and experience increased rapport and trust. They come away with a quality experience that makes them feel good about being your customer.
You might say omnichannel marketing is more like that close family who has big reunions every year, loves being together as much as possible, and takes care of each other – that family everyone wants to have.
Omni-Channel Marketing Ensures Consistent Customer Experiences Across Multiple Channels
Omnichannel marketing does engage your customers across channels, but its main emphasis is on the individual customer experience. It ensures each customer has the same quality experience across all channels.
To use omnichannel marketing successfully, your brand must focus on your customer instead of on the channel. Most brands do the opposite.
To be fair, each channel wants your brand to focus on that channel, but doing that at the cost of your customer’s experience is a mistake. It’s incredibly tempting to shape what you offer to the channel. Instead, base it on who your customers are on that channel and what they need.
- build detailed shopper personas;
- know as much as possible about your e-commerce brand’s target audience;
- personalize your omnichannel marketing creative;
- address your target audience’s perceived needs (they want to know your brand “gets” them);
- ensure the experience across outgoing and incoming channels is seamless, including post-purchase;
- provide a consistent brand voice and consistent customer communications across the company; and
- make your analytical data points consistent across channels to ensure accurate reporting.
“Offering a compelling omni-channel experience used to be the bleeding edge of retail. Now it’s a requirement for survival. More than one-third of Americans have made omni-channel features such as buying online for in-store pickup part of their regular shopping routine since the pandemic, and nearly two-thirds of those individuals plan to continue. Younger buyers are the most enthusiastic about new ways of shopping. Most Gen Z consumers don’t even think in terms of traditional channel boundaries, our research shows, and they increasingly evaluate brands and retailers on the seamlessness of their experience.” McKinsey & Co. “Omni-channel: The Path To Value”
Omni-Channel Marketing Is More Than Just Quantity – It’s About Quality
Multichannel marketing is strictly about quantity – it tries to be the jack of all trades but often ends up being the master of none. Why? Because it forgets that no company can be all things to all shoppers.
Omnichannel marketing focuses on your e-commerce brand’s target audience and appeals to what that audience wants and needs in a highly personalized way across all channels. It’s also consistent throughout your entire e-commerce company, both online and offline. Those traits are the key to its success.
Your customer will immediately recognize an e-commerce brand that speaks to who they are and their needs. They will sell themselves if they consistently see that trait across all online and offline channels. And as long as they continue to see that consistency and quality, they will be happy campers and loyal customers.
It’s common sense if you think about your own experiences shopping online. Which company do you want to purchase from? The one that looks kind of (or a lot) different, depending on the channel where you see it – or – the one that, no matter whether you’re looking online or offline, you instantly know is for people just like you and continues to show that no matter where you look.
I’m not sure we as customers even recognize that instant attraction when a company gets it just right, but we know it’s our kind of company and it carries products we want. Our interest is immediately peaked enough that we look further.
Even if we don’t buy the product the first time we see it, we’ll probably buy it later when we see it again on another channel because the thought is often, “I’m so glad I saw this. I’ve been thinking about it and wanted to get it but couldn’t find the ad again on [insert other channel here].”
Does Omni-Channel Marketing Pay Off?
Yes, it does. It pays off not just in an uptick in conversions but in a way that helps your e-commerce brand scale up to the next level. And that’s the end goal: to grow your e-commerce brand into the business you’ve envisioned.
“Retailers today have never had a better marketing toolkit. The rise of omni-channel marketing helps e-commerce merchants and retailers meet shoppers wherever they are.
The result is improved engagement (some research indicates that omnichannel campaigns earn nearly 19% engagement, compared to 5.4% for single-channel campaigns) and higher sales.
For example, a 2017 Harvard Business Review study found omni-channel shoppers spent 4% more in-store and 10% more online. The more channels shoppers used, the higher the sales. The study notes that customers who used more than four channels spent 9% more on average, compared to those who used just one channel.” Shopify.com “Omni-channel Marketing Guide: What Is It and How to Get Started”
Omni-Channel Marketing Improves Customer Retention as well as Increasing Conversions
Omnichannel marketing also positively affects customer retention. That makes sense because customers who feel like your brand gets who they are will be far more likely to continue to buy from you. They’ll also become your evangelists and influencers, telling all of their friends about your e-commerce brand.
“Companies with omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to customer retention rate of 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.” Invesp “The State of Omnichannel Shopping – Statistics and Trends”
AdQuadrant knows the e-commerce marketplace can be a confusing place. It evolves so quickly that what worked last year may not work this year.
We partner with our clients to help them optimize their omni-channel marketing and scale their e-commerce companies up to the next level and beyond. Let’s discuss how we can help you grow your e-commerce brand to fit your vision.
About the author: Merikay Noah has over 20 years’ experience in digital marketing. She worked with e-commerce B2C and B2B websites of all kinds, from Fortune 100s to small start-ups, at two of the top three search engines and at a Los Angeles ad agency. Her successful e-commerce book publishing website, PopcornReads.com, attracted an international audience of bookaholics for over eight years. She now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she works as a copywriter and loves to hike with her small but fierce doggy protector – Miss Lucy.