What is Omnichannel Marketing: Definition, Tips, & Guide

Peter Sidney
Peter Sidney

In today’s media-heavy environment, creating a consistent brand experience across all marketing platforms (both digital and traditional channels) requires a solid omnichannel marketing strategy. Technology has impacted everyone’s life and is more integrated into our everyday routine now more than ever. With hundreds of marketing messages bombarding consumers daily, this strategy will help reinforce your brand and drive prospect and customer engagement up.

A good omnichannel marketing strategy may include using social media or a referral partner’s email marketing to direct customers to an online shopping platform. These platforms direct a customer’s journey through a seamless experience, checking inventory in real-time and encouraging both online and in-store purchases, or a combination thereof - such as ‘Buy Online Pickup In-Store (BOPIS)’ offerings or even using the company’s mobile app to arrange curbside pickup service.

What is Omnichannel Marketing?

Omnichannel marketing utilizes multiple marketing platforms, both digital and traditional, to provide a seamless customer experience regardless of channel or device. Customers engage with a company in a brick-and-mortar store via an ecommerce website, mobile app, print catalog, social media, in-person meeting, or virtual gathering. Regardless if the touchpoint was in person or via an electronic device, the customer’s journey should be a seamless experience, consistent and complementary.

It’s important to maintain the same user experience as a client moves down the sales funnel to keep consistency and provide a consistent brand experience. Using marketing automation to unify each customer’s experience can be helpful.

What is Omnichannel Attribution?

So, if a customer journey includes multiple touchpoints across different platforms, what marketing channel gets credit for the conversion? Marketers use two kinds of models to determine conversion attribution:

  • Media Mix Modeling (MMM) looks at long-term analytics and aggregate data. MMM allows marketers to see the impact a campaign has on conversions but does not provide insight into individual activities. Because it looks at long-term data, it cannot be used to optimize campaigns in real-time.
  • Multi-Touch Attribution (MTA) looks at granular, person-level data in real-time across each touchpoint. Teams use live data to change campaigns as they run to improve the customer’s personalized experience. The challenge with the MTA model makes it difficult to determine direct attribution. For example, did the customer purchase because they received an e-mail? saw a commercial on television? read product reviews on your e-commerce site? saw an in-store demo?

Thanks to modern analytics and data collection, attribution models no longer rely on outdated analysis models.

What Channels are Included in an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy?

When developing an omnichannel marketing strategy, it’s important to examine the different marketing platforms and channels through which you’ll release content.

Your Website and Mobile App

Typically, your website is the primary hub for your digital marketing activities. It hosts information about your brand’s products and services, blog posts, useful content for your prospects, landing pages, sign-up forms, white papers, and other assets that support your customer’s journey. Businesses incorporate their ecommerce functionality on their website or on a special shop website.

Similarly, your mobile app gives your customers easy access to information on the go. This is important because, as of mid-2022, 54% of internet browsing was done via a mobile browser, not a desktop computer. Mobile apps open two key marketing opportunities: (1) The ability to use cross-app tracking, which follows users from one app to the next on their smartphones, allowing for the derivation of lots of useful information which can then be used for ad targeting. (2) The ability to send push notifications.

Your website and mobile app can work together well, and there are plenty of examples of this in today’s marketing landscape. For example, a user places an order for Domino’s Pizza on their e-commerce website. Once the order is submitted, a push notification shows up on their cell phone, which allows them to track when the pizza has been prepared, placed in the oven, left the restaurant, and arrived at their doorstep.

Email, SMS and Social Media Marketing

With an average of 7,000 advertising messages bombarding Americans daily, your brand needs to stand out. Email, SMS, and social media marketing help your brand stay top-of-mind, especially since pixel tracking and other technologies allow emails to provide personalized recommendations based on the products an ecommerce user views online. Also, social media can target users based on their interests and lead them to relevant landing pages since users voluntarily “like” pages and brands and provide demographic and psychographic targeting data in their profiles.

SMS and push notifications on mobile devices can also be used to lower cart abandonment rates by sending reminders to customers who leave items in their shopping carts.

Channel and Affiliate Partnerships

By utilizing channel partners, you can add new prospects and customers from outside your normal target audience. Channel partner programs can broaden your audience with your partners’ existing audiences either through direct reselling or adding value by combining your product/service with theirs.

Related, affiliate partnerships can help promote your product/service to their existing audience by putting out your marketing to their audiences by sharing your affiliate link in their content marketing.

Out-of-Home Ads and In-Store Experiences

Another way to keep your brand on top a customer’s mind is creating customer engagements where they are unexpected, such as in public display advertising (billboards, signage), in strategic in-store locations, or outside a competitor’s brick-and-mortar store. In-person experiences can have a huge impact on establishing brand culture and loyalty via personalized interactions.

The Benefits of an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy

In today’s world, customers are more and more selective about the brands they engage with. This is because of both an oversaturation in choices and an oversaturation of advertising and marketing messages. By formulating a solid omnichannel marketing strategy, your brand will see many benefits, including increased sales. Other benefits are:

  • Better User Experience - By focusing on the user experience and not the platform, the overall customer experience is better.
  • Cohesive Brand Identity - Implementing a cohesive brand strategy across your organization means creating an easily identifiable brand image and tone. This reinforces the fact that each person's interaction with your company elicits the same emotional connection.
  • Increased Revenue - Because an omnichannel approach engages customers across different touchpoints, channels, and platforms, there can be a 30%-40% increase in generated revenue from multi-channel efforts compared to single-channel.
  • Accurate Target Audience Data - According to MarketingEvolution.com, “going truly omnichannel should not just extend to a user’s experience with your brand, but with your data analytics as well. By tracking engagements across channels, brands get a better understanding of what the customer journey looks like, when and where consumers prefer to engage, and which campaigns have created the most value.”
  • Greater Reach - The omnichannel approach makes an organization available to consumers online, in print, in-store, etc. The consumer can then choose where they want to interact with the brand. As consumers move across devices and between online and offline platforms, transitions are seamless, and messages are informed by prior encounters. This means that brands that use omnichannel have a greater reach to existing and new prospects and customers.
  • Boost Customer Satisfaction - Customer satisfaction increases when an omnichannel marketing strategy is used. This is because there is a focus on the brand, not the channel. According to Forrester Research, the omnichannel experience “leads customers to believe they are engaging with one unified brand or organization, regardless of the various touchpoints they use. This means retailers must ensure the continuity of information and resources across digital and store touch points or risk losing customers to competitors that do.”

How is Omnichannel Marketing Different from Multichannel Marketing?

Some people might tell you that cross-channel and omnichannel marketing are the same because they deal with a marketing strategy involving multiple marketing channels. However, there is a difference. With omnichannel marketing, there can be many goals with different campaigns pushing customers to different outcomes. With cross-channel, all the various channels move a customer to one primary goal.

How to Create an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy

As you work to create your omnichannel program, use these steps to develop a strategy for each campaign.

1. Collect Data to Understand Target Audience

When implementing an omnichannel strategy, your first step is to collect data. Your data will show you how your target audience interacts with different brands. You can do this in various ways, including surveys, test marketing, and analytics data. You’ll want to know their preferred devices, messaging mediums, products and feature preferences, and other segmentation data.

2. Analyze Your Data

Once you’ve collected enough data, you’ll want to use an data analysis platform to convert your data into actionable insights. During this process, you’ll frequently confirm assumptions you’ve made - such as LinkedIn being the best social network to use for business decision-makers. Still, you may also find surprising information like they also have a significant presence on TikTok. You’ll use this data in creating your customer journey map.

3. Create a Customer Journey Map and Solve for Each Step

For each campaign, you must be sure you’re plotting out a customer journey map for each target audience segment. This evaluates each step a prospect takes from discovering the brand or product until they purchase. Outlining each step ensures that each campaign is targeted by considering an individual’s interests, user experience, and external influences.

4. Develop Brand Guidelines and Consistent Messaging

A brand is a promise wrapped in an experience. That means every brand experience should elicit the same emotions. A marketing team should develop brand guidelines that incorporate both the company’s overall brand (such as Pepsi) and the specific product’s brand (such as Mountain Dew). This includes the language, visual aesthetic, call-to-action language, and type of action desired. In this example, Mountain Dew’s marketing positions its product as a “must-have” commodity promoted by inspired advocates.

5. Create Social Media Accounts or Apps if Needed

You may determine that the various channels that members of your target audience use are social media sites and mobile apps. If that is the case, you’ll need to focus your marketing efforts on building out a social media presence and/or creating customer-centric mobile apps that engage, entertain, and simplify customer engagement through the use of gamification, push notifications, etc.

Before you create an app, though, ensure you have a legitimate reason for offering an app and think through functionality.

6. Create Your CTAs, Test and Optimize

The final steps of deploying an omnichannel marketing strategy begin by creating calls-to-action that your new customers will do in each stage of their journey. This will almost always start with actions such as joining your email or SMS list, allowing for increased customer retention rates and delivering consistent messaging to the user’s inbox or smartphone. Other actions would include following your social media platforms, downloading your app, or signing up for a free trial.

Before launching a large-scale campaign, you’ll want to test each campaign on a smaller audience, review the data, gather feedback, and optimize the campaign based on what they tell you they like and don’t like. Your goal is to ensure the buyer’s journey is seamless.

You may wish to work with a premium channel partner to identify a test audience. This will both introduce your brand to a new audience and allow you to utilize a group that has little to no experience or loyalty to your brand already.

Omnichannel Marketing Examples You Already Know

You’ve likely already engaged with omnichannel marketing strategies but like any great marketing effort, you wouldn’t know so unless you really analyzed what was going on. The following are examples of omnichannel marketing strategies that helped give the best customer experience across all platforms.

  • Amazon - Amazon’s entire on-site marketing strategy is omnichannel. When an item is viewed, it is recorded in your customer data. Yes, that’s why you will see the flipflops you looked at last month in your “suggested items” for the rest of your life. You can tell that there are omnichannel practices at work because any items you add to your cart via amazon.com also appear in your Amazon app.
  • Disney - When planning a trip to a Disney destination, you can see omnichannel everywhere. Once you’ve booked a trip, you can use your website account to log into the mobile app and make meal reservations or queue up for rides. You can purchase a magic band bracelet, which tracks where you’re at on the Disney property, pushing notifications to your phone about short wait times nearby, and which can also be used as your hotel key, digital wallet, theme park admission ticket, link for magical family photos, etc. You can even use the same website account to access Disney+ streaming videos.
  • Starbucks - The Starbucks mobile app pulls together features that turn users into Starbucks fanatics. The app enrolls your phone in a loyalty program, accruing points for each purchase or with certain app engagements. It also creates a reloadable gift card ID that can be reloaded via phone, website, in-store, or via mobile app. The integrated menu ordering system allows you to bypass the line and order before you leave home or the office, ensuring your order is ready when you arrive.
  • Spotify - Spotify not only allows users to play music via web app, desktop app, and mobile app, it syncs together multiple applications and smart home devices. This allows users to control music on any Spotify-enabled device installed or synced. It also integrates seamlessly with Google Home and Amazon Alexa devices, so you can group smart speakers and play music on different speaker groups.

Bonus Tips and Trends of Omnichannel Marketing

Now that you know all about omnichannel marketing, be sure and use the following list of tips to develop brand guidelines and omnichannel campaign strategies:

  • Consider product, marketing, sales, and customer support & satisfaction at each step along the customer journey
  • Remember that if your omnichannel customer marketing approach consistently delivers the right message at the right time, your customer should not realize that there was a marketing campaign behind their actions
  • Integrate shopping experiences both online and in a physical store, ensuring a consistent experience and parallel pricing
  • Develop customer loyalty by focusing on the brand more than the channel
  • Integrate cross-platform customer data, allowing customers to pick up where they left off on another device
  • Share efforts across multiple channels because it will most likely lead to more revenue

Finally, consider expanding your reach from your base target audience customers to new ones by launching or enhancing your channel partner program. Using a platform like Relevize will help your company manage its channel partnerships so that your partners, like your customers, feel they are on a seamless and natural journey. Sign up for a free demo today to learn more.

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