These days, omni-channel isn't just a buzzword anymore. It's a powerful marketing strategy brands can leverage to offer a seamless experience no matter how or where customers connect with the company. What's more, this type of approach breeds consumer loyalty and can help set a business apart in its industry.
However, omni-channel strategies have come a long way in recent years. The best practices that might have supported a company a few years ago have changed today, and new approaches have emerged and proved themselves as fruitful for a brand's overall reputation.
Let's take a look at what some of the most successful businesses are doing from an omni-channel marketing standpoint, as well as the tools you'll need to incorporate these best practices within your organization:
Make a unified experience a top priority
As AlleyWatch contributor Steve Hall pointed out, this may seem obvious, but many brands lose sight of the importance of a unified shopping experience as they set forth with their omni-channel efforts. It's critical to ensure that offering streamlined, integrated encounters with the brand isn't just another business focus, but a top priority.
With each step the brand takes toward its unified omni-channel goals, decision-makers should ask themselves how these activities connect back to the overall experience the brand is offering to its customers. This focus should include every aspect of business – from the moment a shopper enters the store or views the website homepage through the completion of the transaction and beyond.
"[T]ake a holistic viewpoint on all marketing, advertising, sales and even product return activities," Hall wrote. "The overarching goal should be for the customer to feel like she's shopping at the same store and being treated the same way – whether it's online or offline. In some cases, this may mean taking the focus off individual channel performance (i.e., different revenue goals and/or reporting mechanisms) and structuring the organization in a cohesive and holistic manner."
Change your point of view
One of the best ways to ensure a seamless, unified shopping experience is to examine the brand from an outsider's point of view. If you were a customer of your company, how would the brand's offerings support your experience? Marketo Modern Marketing contributor Mike Stocker suggested reviewing the customer experience by walking in your shoppers' shoes, so to speak – from the product research stage all the way through purchase.
There are a few more key questions the marketing team can ask themselves in this regard as well, including:
- Does shopping online differ from shopping in-store? If so, how?
- How can the overall experience be streamlined? Are there any barriers that exist online or at store locations?
- How does my brand's experience differ from what the competition is offering? Are there any specific processes that can be improved to help enhance the brand's standing in the marketplace?
- How does the company support customers after a transaction has been completed?
Asking and answering these questions can help the marketing team identify any weak points within its omni-channel efforts, and work to address these specifically to create a more holistic shopping experience.
Gather data to learn about your customers – and your competition
Data and any details related to shoppers' preferences and behaviors as well as their overall encounter with the brand are key for any omni-channel marketing strategy. From purchasing history, price monitoring, customer reviews, email monitoring and more, data can highlight specific patterns that can help inform the choices your brand makes with your omni-channel marketing. This information is particularly helpful when it comes to your brand's messaging.
"We can now measure success in terms of the response of real people over time, in addition to measuring individual campaigns," Macy's Chief Marketing Officer Julie Bernard said at a recent Data Driven Marketing conference. "We have enough data at the customer level to see how she interacts both online and in the store, so we can tailor messaging and offers to her appropriately by channel. We strive to balance the use of customer data to inform content relevancy with the use of consumer insights to ensure that the relevancy is coupled with a sense of discovery and inspiration."
Targeted messaging: Identify customer audiences and use cases
In order to offer the best experience possible, your brand should be leveraging targeted messaging and marketing campaigns to support your shoppers throughout their journey with the brand. A customer who regularly buys from your business, for example, will have different needs than an individual who has placed items in an online shopping cart but hasn't completed a transaction. Your marketing team should leverage the data it has collected to separate your client audience into groups that pertain to their different use cases. In this way, marketers can spearhead efforts to create targeted messaging for each type of shopper, helping to offer a streamlined experience while moving them through the sales funnel.
Leverage customers' preferred channels
"The right data is essential to inform your omni-channel marketing efforts."
When targeted messaging has been established, the brand should utilize shoppers' preferred channels to disseminate this information. For instance, if a shopper reaches out to the company via an online chat platform, the brand should utilize this channel to address his or her needs. Similarly, customers who connect with the company through email should receive their targeted messages in this way as well.
Taking this a step further, Stocker also recommended integrating sales systems so the brand is able to "listen and respond" to each interaction no matter what channel a customer utilizes.
"Increasingly, people use multiple devices during a single transactional process," Stocker noted. "For example, an e-commerce retailer should strive to preserve items in a cart across – if you add an item to your mobile shopping cart, it should still be in your shopping cart when you log in on your desktop computer."
Have the right tools in place
As noted, the right data is essential to inform your omni-channel marketing efforts. While your brand could go through the painstaking and time-consuming process of gathering all of these details manually, it's much easier and much more efficient to leverage a best-in-class solution that offers all the data you need in a single location.
PriceSpider's Channel Reports does just this. Our proprietary technology enables us to collect data related to customer and seller feedback, competitors' prices, email monitoring and more. To find out how Channel Reports can support your omni-channel marketing initiatives, check out our website and contact us today.