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The ultimate omni-channel marketing guide

If omni-channel marketing is a top priority for you right now, you’re on the right track. Because the truth is that customers are using more channels and devices than ever before. And they’re demanding more relevancy from brands than ever before.

And with Netflix personalizing our movie queues to our tastes and Amazon recommending products we love, who could blame them? The bar for understanding customers has been set high. And if you aren’t getting to know them and personalizing for them across all channels, you’re probably falling behind.

Hold up…what is omni-channel marketing?

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s settle on a definition:

Omni-channel marketing is providing an integrated brand experience across all channels.

It’s when you view an offer by email, browse the website for more info, order on your computer, log onto the website on your phone to check the order, leave a review on social media from your work computer—and all of those experiences are perfectly in sync, no matter the channel or device.

Omni-channel vs. multi-channel

Now, you might also have heard the term multi-channel marketing. So, the question becomes what’s the difference? Are multi-channel and omni-channel the same thing?

The first part of the answer is that the definitions here are contested. You’ll hear different definitions from different people. So it’s up to your team how you decide to define what you’re doing.

That said, typically multi-channel marketing means marketing across more than one channel. It means maybe your email and website are connected. Maybe your in-store experience is pretty seamlessly integrated with your customer service line.

Omni, on the other hand, means all. Which means the idea behind omni-channel is integrating everything—not just a few channels. It means the entire customer journey—no matter the device, location, or content delivery method—is consistent.

The statistics: why omni-channel matters

So, why should an omni-channel approach be on your marketing team’s radar? The proof is in the numbers:

Businesses with omni-channel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention.

Omni-channel marketing with 3+ channels retain 90% more customers than competitors with 2 channels or less.

Omni-channel engagement and purchase rates outperform the competition by 250%.

Today’s customers use an average of nearly six channels, with 50% regularly using more than four. The more channels a customer uses, the more likely they are to be regular purchasers.

90% of customers expect consistent interactions across channels.

So, it’s pretty clear omni-channel marketing drives significant business results. Which brings us to a final stat: 87% of retailers agree that omni-channel marketing strategy is critical or very important to success.

But here’s the kicker: only 8% say they’ve got it covered.

If you’re part of the 92% that’s left, read on.

How to build an omni-channel strategy

Okay. So we’re bought in on the idea of omni-channel marketing. I mean, who doesn’t want the seamless experience of contacting a support team who already knows what product you have? Or returning to a site to make a purchase you’ve been researching and finding they’ve put that product front-and-center so you can easily buy?

Now, the question becomes: How do we create an omni-channel strategy?

Here are some best practices to get you started:

Get everybody on the same page

Consistent experiences across every single channel are only possible if every customer facing team is on board. Which means the first step to any omni-channel strategy is to make a business case across the organization and get all the customer-facing teams bought in to what you’re doing.

This means proving the value and helping teams understand how this new strategy will change the way they work and what you’re going to do to keep that change as easy as possible for them to make.

De-silo your data

If customer service has different information than marketing and marketing has different information than sales, that’s most definitely not a recipe for omni-channel success. If you want to seamlessly communicate and connect with customers, your data better be connected too.

Create a messaging strategy—and stick to it

Communicating seamlessly across devices, platforms, physical locations, and the digital world means having a clear message or set of messages across all those touch points.

If marketing talks about your product one way and sales talks about it in another, that’s not a consistent experience. If your physical store’s messaging feels disconnected with your online offers, that’s not a consistent experience.

Before you can be consistent, you have to know what you’re trying to say as a brand and how you’ll communicate with different types of customers at different stages of their journey.

Leverage technology to personalize 1:1

Omni-channel isn’t just about delivering the same message across devices and locations. It’s also about knowing your customers and tailoring communication to them.

It’s knowing that Jeanne has a customer service ticket in and not hard-selling her while she’s waiting for a resolution.

It’s understanding that Angel loves your line of leather boots and never buys the synthetic versions—and so delivering leather boot info, content, and ads anytime she interacts with your brand.

It’s when you stop sending ads for your vintage board game pack after Jack buys a set.

Now, the first step in that kind of personalized, omni-channel experience is knowing your customer by collecting and connecting customer data. And the next step? Using technology—like a CDP—to get audience insights and then automate personalization on a 1:1 level.

Because with hundreds of thousands or millions of customers, there’s no way for your team to personalize on that level for everybody. But we do have the technology for that kind of personalization.

Measure your progress and always be ready to change

Customers change. Cultural expectations change. Channels change. Messaging changes. Teams change. And what works in marketing changes.

In other words: change is inevitable. And omni-channel marketing with the customer at its center should always be ready to pivot to keep the customer at its center.

What does that mean in practical terms? It means tracking progress, measuring success metrics, keeping up with the latest studies on what customers want, and revisiting your omni-channel strategy anytime there’s a new channel, message, or expectation that impacts how well it is doing.

3 compelling omni-channel marketing examples

So, who’s doing omni-channel well? There are quite a few examples. And we particularly like these three:

1. Disney

Disney is particularly brilliant at making the experience across their physical parks and the digital world feel seamless.

As Chief Marketer points out, “With the My Disney Experience tool, customers can plan their trip to Disney World from start to finish. The tool’s mobile app is integrated with GPS, so customers can use it to find the attractions they want to visit and see the estimated wait time for rides.”

2. Peloton

This stationary bike retailer is so much more than a stationary bike retailer. And they’re proving it with omni-channel experiences that are knocking customer satisfaction out of the park.

Not only is the experience across pre-purchase channels seamless, but Peloton goes the extra mile to make sure post-purchase experiences continue to be consistently on brand. From their Facebook group, where riders can share goals and achievements, to the system’s milestone celebrations, designed to cheer people on as they hit those goals, it’s a customer experience dream.

3. REI

This outdoor retailer has been known for customer service for a long time. They even got a shout-out in Cheryl Strayed’s wildly popular book Wild for their policy of replacing hiking boots no questions asked.

Which is why it comes as no surprise that their omni-channel game is on point.

One recent example is how seriously the company has taken research that says most shoppers use their phones to research products while in a physical store. The brand responded to that fact by making it easier for all shoppers to view reviews and research products while shopping—even if they didn’t have their phone or their service in store wasn’t great.

As RIS news points out, “The company made it easy for people to see product reviews while shopping in stores. Consumers scanned a barcode on an item, then instantly saw feedback about it on their smartphone screens.”

Omni-channel marketing with a CDP

At the end of the day, omni-channel marketing is about centering the customer. Making sure their experiences match up no matter what channel, device, team, or location they’re interacting with.

Some companies are knocking this out of the park. More are still getting up to speed.

Which means there’s a big opportunity to be one of the first in your market to really serve the customer consistently across channels.

To do that, you’ll need a strategic plan and the technology to connect customer data across platforms, understand your audiences, and personalize for them on a 1:1 level.

And that just so happens to be what we at Lytics do best.

Curious to learn more? Contact us today for a demo or a chat.