Marketing is undergoing a great transformation and omni-channel marketing is one of the currents driving this change. Customers interact with companies and products in many different ways – through websites, social media, mobile apps, at brick-and-mortar stores, or through catalogues. Omni-channel marketing goes beyond simply acknowledging these various channels and creates an integrated experience for the customer. Though this must be separated from another buzzword, multi-channel marketing, omni-channel, on the other hand, coordinates the marketing, sales, product and customer support into a seamless experience that is delivered to the customer over a choice of different channels.
Here’s an example that will help clearly illustrate what an omni-channel experience feels like:
Let’s say you are browsing Instagram when you come across an influencer wearing a shirt you like. You are linked to the website or mobile app of the retailer that sells the shirt, where you can get more details. You are interested in buying the shirt, but you want to try it out first. A company representative is standing by on live chat, ready to answer any questions you may have. She gives you the location of physical stores near you. You book an appointment. When you reach the store, the shirt has been kept aside, waiting for you to try on. You are also given suggestions of other clothes you might want to try out. You can now decide whether you will buy the shirt at the store or have it delivered to your doorstep. Either way, you have multiple options for paying. If you chose the shirt to be delivered, you can keep track of the delivery and are regularly updated on the progress. Once you receive the shirt, you get an e-mail requesting you to rate the product and the overall experience.
The above scenario requires a well-coordinated effort that brings together various functions and departments and at every level there is the collection and analysis of data.
Marketing automation is used capture information on the buying behavior of a user and their patterns of content engagement. This is used to build a profile of a customer that includes the age, gender and other information. By collating the data from multiple customers, buyer personas can be constructed. This helps marketers understand how different factors, such as brand value or technical specifications can impact a customer’s decision making. Future marketing strategy can be fine-tuned to more effectively cater to your specific audience. For example, you could chose to market a certain product through a social media influencer whose following most closely resembles the customers for that product.
An email campaign targeted at customers, alerts them to offers on products that they would like to purchase, based on their purchase history. Online advertisements also remind them about these offers.
In the fictional example above, the apparel seller owns both physical stores and an online retail channel. A database consisting of a listing all items and their sales locations help determine which physical stores have the requested item in stock. A powerful customer relationship management (CRM) software alerts the sales force at the store about the appointment. It also connects the shipping/distribution department to the sales team so that the customer receives regular updates on the location and status of goods in transit.
Finally, once the goods have been delivered, customer feedback is collected so that the whole system can be improved.
Of course, this illustration is quite exhaustive, and requires a large organizational structure to pull off, but even smaller businesses can have omni-channel marketing strategies.
A large amount of work is automated and done by software that is accessible to companies of all sizes. Small team of marketers or sales people can effectively run omni-channel campaigns and keep track of multiple customers at once. In many cases, the customer is ahead of the marketers. The sooner businesses adapt to the changes in customer buying habits, the greater will be their gain.