It’s time to cut through all the noise. With so much newfangled marketing-speak and bits of jargon (Cross-channel? Conversion rate optimization? Moment marketing?) floating around the internet realm, how do you know which strategies to employ to maximize your topline potential this 2020 and beyond?
If finding the optimal solution to what ails the marketing side of your business is what’s been keeping you up at night, fret not. This guide will enlighten you to omni-channel marketing, the last marketing term you’ll ever need to know. You will also acquire the information to decide whether this strategy will work with your eCommerce business.
True omni-channel marketing leverages standard e-commerce practices and brings them under a single operation. These include:
#1. Social Selling
Social selling consists of selling services or goods across widely used social media networks, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Also, a brand using social selling seeks to customers engage, fans, and followers with interesting and relevant content.
#2. eCommerce Stores
The bare bones of any e-commerce operation, an e-commerce store is a brand’s website from which customers and clients can buy a brand’s product or service, learn more about its offerings, seek assistance via customer data service, or engage in any other brand-relevant marketing activity.
#3. Digital Marketplaces
Different from eCommerce stores, digital marketplaces bring together multiple brands and shopping experiences under a single virtual roof. eBay, Amazon, and Alibaba are sites that most people will be familiar with.
#4. Mobile Applications
Mobile applications reduce customer friction and enhance brand engagement by providing opportunities for interaction. These can be deployed to offer users exclusive deals, discounts, or content that’s unavailable to nonusers.
Omni-Channel Strategy: By the Numbers
Still not convinced? Here are some stats you need to consider if you’re still on the fence about adopting an omni-channel strategy.
- One study found that 78% of the total global consumers purchased from Amazon within the last six months.
- In line with this, video content and the implementation of landing pages can improve conversion by up to 86%. On the other hand, slow page loading is seen as the enemy of conversion, with a 1-second delay reducing conversion rates by an estimated 7%.
- More is better when it comes to landing pages. Brands with more than 40 landing pages create more than 12 times more potential customers than brands that have five or fewer.
- Mobile optimization has become more important than ever. 69% of Americans have bought something online, and of these, more than half have completed their purchases using a smartphone.
- According to Statista, an estimated 2.91 trillion mobile-commerce sales will be generated. These numbers are still expected to rise.
- Finally, mobile-first web design will become more important than ever when it comes to converting sales leads. More than 40% of site visitors who use a mobile device to access a site leaves if the page takes longer than three seconds to load.
Definitions and Differentiations
Before the arrival of the internet and digital marketing, omni-channel marketing was next to impossible. The prevalent marketing tactics of the time – direct mail, catalogs, print ads, TV, and radio – lacked the interactivity and connectivity that make omni-channel strategy feasible. Today, all these, together with e-commerce initiatives such as user-targeted advertising, social media, online shops, SEO-powered content, mobile browsing, and good old in-store customer attentiveness all come together to create a shopping experience for channels customers that’s easy and familiar, no matter whether they’re in a physical store visit or shopping on their mobile device.
Unfortunately, only about one out of every five brands selects an omni-channel strategy from the get-go, despite this strategy having been proven to be more effective at both convincing prospective shoppers to buy and retaining past customers. The reason? Marketers may find monitoring and measuring strategy success much more difficult, given the interconnectivity of the system. For comparison: tracing a customer’s journey from a display ad or social media referral is much simpler than attempting to attribute value to each step of a customer’s journey that includes:
- A display ad based on past searches that leads to;
- A landing page that the buyer clicks on, which loads their cart with the searched item, which is eventually discarded, but which triggers;
- An email reminder that the buyer receives about their abandoned cart, which contains;
- User-generated reviews of the product in the cart, which convince the buyer to visit;
- A physical store, where the product’s sales assistant is waiting for the buyer to arrive and is prepared with both a basket and some recommendations for supplementary purchases as well.
Given this very simplified example, how do marketers decide on which of these is the component that generated the sale?
Nevertheless, brands are beginning to explore an integrated approach throughout their marketing network, discarding obsolete marketing strategies in favor of more complete ones.
Omni-channel marketing strategy needs to be differentiated from other marketing strategies that operate over different channels:
Multichannel marketing is the first and most basic of these; when using it, brands simply elect to use different platforms to perform marketing activities. For example, a pre-internet brand might think to run a print ad in the local paper, buy some airtime on the radio, and select a store location that’s downtown and likely to be seen by the largest number of people.
Cross-channel marketing, on the other hand, might be seen as the precursor of the current-generation omni-channel strategy. With cross-channel marketing, brands attempt to integrate different devices and platforms into their various marketing resources and unify them for an improved shopping experience. What makes this different from the omni-channel strategy is that cross-channel strategies try to align some or most of a brand’s sales and marketing activities. In contrast, true omni-channel marketing seeks to align all of them.
For example, a brand that has a fully integrated online marketing strategy, including SEO tactics, inclusion of social media links and Google display ads that lead to it, may be deploying a multichannel strategy. However, note that in this example, the brand does not attempt to integrate offline or past-gen marketing and sales tactics into its overall marketing approach.
Omni-channel marketing seeks to enhance a brand’s customer experience, removing as much buying friction as possible and laying the groundwork for an enduring relationship between the brand and the customer. However, this simple fact cannot be overlooked: an omnichannel approach would simply not be possible without a multichannel strategy in place first.
Give Your Brand a Boost with Omni-channel
Your brand can reap some benefits from an omnichannel marketing strategy. Some of these include:
- Channel Switching
An estimated 67% of retail customers begin their shopping on one device and complete their purchases on another, or occasionally, leave the digital channels completely in favor of buying from a physical store. Shoppers today research their purchases extensively, viewing as many as 10 resources online before finally deciding on a purchase, according to the same source.
- Powering Up Your Brick and Mortar Establishment
Some people have businesses that *gasp* don’t operate on an e-commerce model. Service providers like restaurants and salons can still benefit from an omnichannel experiences approach to marketing by using it to drive website visitors and social media followers to a brick-and-mortar store establishment, while also using their digital assets to offer discounts, push content, or make reservations and appointments.
- Tapping into the Potential of Content Marketing
Content marketing is vital for positioning a brand as an authority on a particular topic, which has benefits for brands vis-a-vis their Google search engine results page rankings. Social media posts, blog or vlog posts, e-books, and podcasts. The list of content possibilities goes on and on, but the more of it you have, the more likely Google will put you in spot one of its SERPs for any keywords your brand may want to be relevant for. This, in turn, translates into boosted website traffic and, hopefully, more conversions for your brand.
Which Omni-channel Platform is Right For You?
While aligning and organizing multiple marketing channels and bringing them all under a single roof may sound like a lot of work, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be. There are some omni-channel marketing platforms available on the market that help brands automate their operations without having to learn new ways of doing business. But how do you choose which one is right for you?
Your omni-channel platform of choice must be able to:
- Work in the native language of both you and your customers;
- Accommodate complete customization to align with the look and feel of your brand;
- Handle your data securely;
- Easily integrate with the systems that your business has already implemented, to prevent the problem of reinventing the wheel;
- Support omni-channel operations by design without the need for third-party extensions.
Omni-channel marketing used to be just a dream scenario that every marketer has had in mind, presumably since marketing became a thing: namely, a completely seamless, fully integrated shopping experience across all customer touchpoints that contributes to shoppers spending more, habitually. Fortunately, that dream not just became a reality, but also widely considered as one of best online marketing strategies for eCommerce businesses today and beyond.
What has your brand’s journey towards a more integrated approach to marketing been like? Is your business ready to go omni? Let us know in the comments section below.
Author bio: Aaron Chichioco is the chief content officer (CCO) and one of the web designers of Design Doxa. His expertise includes not only limited Web/mobile design and development, but digital marketing, branding, eCommerce strategy and business management tactics as well. For more information about Aaron, visit http://designdoxa.com/about-us/.