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Omni-channel marketing strategy 101

Omni-channel marketing outperforms single-channel by 250%. If you don't have an omni-channel strategy, it's definitely time.

Omni-channel marketing outperforms single-channel by 250%. Businesses with omni-channel strategies increase customer retention by 91% year-over-year. And 90% of your customers expect consistent brand interactions, no matter what channel they choose.

With stats like those, it’s pretty clear that an omni-channel approach is vital to a healthy marketing strategy. But don’t take our word for it: 87% of retailers agree that omni-channel is critical or very important to their success.

So, we get it. Omni-channel is the new black. But here’s the thing: only 8% of marketers say they’ve achieved the omni-channel approach they’re aiming for.

Which means most of us have room for a lot of growth. And if you’re just embracing omni-channel now, you could still outpace the competition in a big way.

So, if omni-channel is your goal, where should you start?

The answer, as with anything in marketing, is with strategy.

Omni-channel marketing in a nutshell

But wait…before we dig into strategy, a quick definition: Omni-channel marketing is providing an integrated brand experience across all channels. So, no matter where your customer decides to connect—be it your website, your app, or a social media platform—their interaction with your brand is consistent.

The foundation of omni-channel strategy

We’ve written about omni-channel marketing before, and our experts shared five essential steps in any strategy. In a nutshell, they are:

  1. Get everybody on the same page before you start. Consistency starts with your internal teams. You need to be aligned on both the business goals of your omni-channel marketing and the nitty gritty of how you’ll get there.

  2. Break down data silos. Nothing stops omni-channel marketing in its tracks faster than data that doesn’t match up.

  3. Create a messaging strategy, and make sure every team is committed to it.

  4. Lean on technology. True omni-channel personalization is going to take some AI and machine learning. The more customers you have, the less likely it is that your team can personalize 1:1 without smart tech.

  5. Measure everything—and be ready to change with customer demands.

Questions your omni-channel strategy should answer

So, you’ve got the basics down. You’re planning to break down silos and align your teams. You’ve got a messaging strategy to implement across channels. And you’re researching the right technology to support those omni-channel dreams.

But before you go further, here are some questions that omni-channel strategy should also tackle. Because part of getting people on the same page is spelling out who your customers are, what channels they’re using, etc.

  1. Who’s your customer?
    The more you know about the people you’re serving, the better you can serve them. Who is your target audience? Every strategy—content strategy, marketing strategy, omni-channel strategy—starts here.

  2. What are some of their typical customer journeys?
    If you don’t know where your customer is headed, how do you help them get there? If you don’t know what they want at each stage of the journey, how can you set up even one channel—forget about two or five or 10—to serve that journey?

    Customer journeys are changing, messy things. But the more you can pin down about how your customers typically move forward, the more you can remove barriers and move them toward their—and your—goals.

  3. What channels do they use?
    For omni-channel marketing, this is a big one. If your customers aren’t on Reddit, why spend your energy there? If your customers love Twitter, why not spend more energy there? When you say your goal is omni-channel, spell out what channels that'll include.

  4. What do you want customers to do?
    Another hallmark of any strategy—marketing, content, design, omni-channel—is business goals. What exactly does the business want to achieve with your strategy? Because you can align your channels all you want, but unless you’re aligning them around real business goals, you’re throwing darts in the dark. You need to know your target before you can hit it.

  5. What frustrates them?
    Omni-channel isn’t just about aligning your brand across channels. At its core, it’s about great customer experiences. And you can’t have great customer experiences until you understand what frustrates customers, what keeps them from buying, what makes them leave your site and never come back.

  6. How can your strategy eliminate those frustrations?
    And on that same note…once you know what’s holding customers back, you can remove the obstacle, smooth out the journey, make sure your customer service pro is giving people the same experience through Twitter DMs that they’re getting when they call in.

  7. What do they need?
    The other side of the customer understanding coin is this one: What do customers want and need? Great customer experiences across channels understand what a customer is after.

  8. How can omni-channel serve those needs better?
    And once you know what they’re after...how can your omni-channel strategy better serve those needs? If customers want to look up reviews in store, how can you make that easier? If customers need a way to sync their cart across devices so that they can browse on their work computer and buy on their phone, how can you set that up?

The point here is that omni-channel isn’t a magic bullet. It’s a way to better serve customers. And by better serving customers, your strategy can lead to a whole lot of compelling business results.

Omni-channel strategy examples

So, what does good omni-channel marketing look like? How does strategy translate to real-world marketing wins?

Disney, Peloton, and REI are great examples of what an effective omni-channel marketing strategy looks like after launch. We’ve written more about all three here.

Omni-channel strategy for retail

The above strategies apply to every industry. It is worth noting, though, that retailers have a particularly big opportunity—and if they don’t grab hold of it, their competitors sure will.

Because recent research shows that even in-store shoppers are highly likely to use their phone or tablet to research products while in store. This means the shopping experience in store is now cross-channel—by necessity and whether retailers want it to be or not.

Some companies—like REI—are embracing this reality and using it to drive more sales. When the well-known outdoor retailer found out that this is how customers wanted to shop, they introduced the option to scan barcodes with their app to get more info on a product and read its reviews.

Not only does this make for better customer experiences. It also gives REI the opportunity to drive up app engagement, gather better customer data, and personalize on a deeper level for their customers.

Omni-channel starts with good data

Want to personalize for customers across channels? As we said above, one of the first steps is leaning on the right technology—tech that helps you break down data silos to store first-party, real-time data all in one marketer-friendly, accessible place, turn that data into actionable insights about your customers, and personalize for them 1:1 across every platform.

If you’re curious about how that works, we’d love to show you. Reach out today to chat with our team or get a free demo of Lytics CDP, which does all that and more.