What is omnichannel marketing and how to do it effectively?
We take a close look at what effective omnichannel marketing looks like, the strategy and architecture that you will need for success, and how to use attribution to identify which channels work best for any given use case.
It can be a struggle for marketing leaders to create marketing strategies that consistently boost customer interactions and drive return on investment. According to Gartner, over 70% of CX leaders struggle to design campaigns that increase customer loyalty and achieve results.
One way that brands can improve CX is by creating a communication strategy that increases open rates and encourages engagement. Whether we are talking email, voice, WhatsApp, or live chat, it has become clear that it is necessary for brands to connect with customers by giving them choice.
However, it goes beyond just preference. As an article by Forbes states, the omnichannel communication trend is past just being a buzzword and needs to be incorporated into all marketing strategy. According to their research, omnichannel campaigns saw an 18.96% engagement rate, while single-channel saw just a 5.4% engagement rate.
What is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel marketing is the art of creating personalized and consistent customer experiences across all the channels and devices that people use. In the case of omnichannel communications, this means being available to your customers on SMS, email, RCS, voice and the most popular messaging apps in all the regions that you do business, including WhatsApp, Messenger, Viber, Telegram, and many more.
Offering different channels can massively improve your open rates and marketing ROI. In studies by the Aberdeen Group businesses with high levels of omnichannel customer engagement saw a rise in annual revenue of 9.5% year on year, compared to 3.4% for companies with low levels.
The key to successful omnichannel marketing is the ability to optimize your campaigns and customer engagement by reaching each customer on the most effective channel for every situation and use case. Just a few examples include:
- When sending a contract, T&Cs, or a message that needs to be saved for future consultation, then email is the best option.
- For a time-limited promotion, a digital channel such as WhatsApp or RCS allows brands to instantly communicate with customers with links and images to generate interest.
- If there is an urgency to the message because it impacts the customer imminently, for example where a loan has been approved or there is a service disruption, then SMS should be the primary channel with another as a failover option.
Omnichannel vs multichannel marketing
There is a key difference between omnichannel and multichannel campaigns that needs to be understood. Although all omnichannel campaigns are multichannel, the opposite is not true. In a multichannel strategy, brands have more than one option to communicate with clients but there is no thought put into which channel is best. The same message is pushed out on all channels, with the risk that consumers will get the same message multiple times, which risks irritating them and eroding engagement rates.
An effective omnichannel marketing strategy means that while you can communicate with your customers across multiple channels, you can select the right message in the right channel at the right time. This means no repeated, inconsistent, and irrelevant messages.
How to create an effective omnichannel strategy?
To create an effective omnichannel strategy, a brand first needs to look at three key factors:
- What is the goal of the strategy? Is it to drive sales, improve reach, make cost savings, explore new markets, or provide a better customer experience. For most companies it will probably be a combination of all of these.
- What is the scope of the strategy? Does it apply only to marketing communication or does it include transactional and operational messaging too. This will influence which stakeholders need to be involved in the process and the complexity of combining all the data sources required to implement the strategy.
- What is your target audience? Where do they live, what are their typical traits, what channels do they tend to use, and what is their appetite for adopting new ways of communicating.
Once you know the answers to these questions and have the buy-in and resources from all stakeholders then you can plan your strategy and start building the omnichannel architecture required to deliver it. The effort is more than offset by the resulting benefits of increased delivery rates, better engagement, consistent messaging across all touchpoints, and cost savings made possible by optimal use of lower-priced digital channels.
Creating an omnichannel architecture
An omnichannel architecture refers to all the infrastructure, technology, and processes involved in delivering a seamless and integrated customer experience across all available channels, both online and offline. It ensures that customers have a consistent experience and can transition smoothly between channels without losing context or encountering disjointed service.
The key characteristics of an omnichannel architecture include:
- Data centralization: Customer data, transaction history, and other relevant information needs to be centralized in a Customer Data platform (CDP) or similar system. This enables a single customer view and facilitates personalization across channels.
- Integrations: Not all data required to implement an effective omnichannel strategy can feasibly be included in the CDP. This means secure integrations with multiple internal and third-party systems, either for triggering communication, for example an immediate thank you message when a customer makes a purchase, or to provide the data required to enrich and personalize marketing communication.
- Orchestration technology: This is software that enables marketers to control the entire omnichannel eco-system to ensure a good customer experience. It provides a single interface to manage communication across all channels – this includes setting the logic for choosing the best channel for any situation and configuring failover channels for critical communications.
- Responsive design: In the context of digital channels like websites and mobile apps, adhering to responsive design best practices ensures that the user interface always adapts to whatever device a customer is using to access your communication.
- Inclusive communication: The architecture must ensure that all your communication can be consumed and understood by all customers irrespective of their age, physical ability, socioeconomic status or any other characteristic that makes it more of a challenge. See our useful guide to ensuring inclusive business communication for more information.
- Security and compliance: The architecture must include robust security measures to ensure the highest protection of customer data and transaction information. It should also ensure compliance with data protection regulations and industry standards in all the regions that the business’s customers reside.
- Support for the entire customer journey: An effective omnichannel architecture must support messaging from first touch to ensuring long term loyalty. For example – push messages that motivate a customer to open an account, to onboarding (using SMS to remind customers to complete the registration form), through to the signing of contracts (by emailing the terms and conditions of their contract as well as the final document), all the way to re-engaging lapsed customers via digital channels (such as with links to products and offers which are a good fit for the customer).
- Scalability: As a business grows and evolves their omnichannel architecture must be able to accommodate new channels, a growing customer base, and easily cope with expected peaks in messaging, for example before Black Friday, or unplanned peaks in the event of an emergency or outage that the business needs to keep customers informed about. For more information see our blog on effective crisis communication.
Investing in an omnichannel marketing strategy that facilitates consistent customer communication across all devices, platforms and channels is now an imperative. It leads to higher engagement, better return on investment, and increased customer loyalty by enabling messaging that is seamless and always relevant.
What is omnichannel attribution?
Omnichannel attribution is a strategy used in marketing and analytics to track and measure the impact of the various channels and tactics used in an omnichannel marketing campaign. This includes the website, social media, email, mobile apps, outdoor media, paid advertising, bricks and mortar stores, and more. The ultimate goals of attribution are to optimize marketing activities and provide a better customer experience.
Attribution enables marketers to discover the relative success of each touchpoint and the role that it played in moving customers through the purchase funnel or taking the desired action, whether that be downloading an Infobrief, signing up for a newsletter, or simply sharing a post on social media.
Effective omnichannel attribution enables continuous improvement of a business’s marketing activities as it provides understanding of how customers move between channels and identifies the most effective combination of channels for each use case. Future campaigns can then be refined to achieve greater success.
How does omnichannel attribution work?
Omnichannel attribution works by using a set of models to assign credit to the different touchpoints in a customer’s journey. Common models include first-touch (credit to the initial interaction), last-touch (credit to the final interaction), linear (equal credit to all touchpoints), time decay (increased credit to more recent touchpoints), and several more. The strength of this approach is that businesses can customize or optimize their attribution models to achieve specific objectives, for example hitting a sales target or achieving maximum reach with a limited budget.
Omnichannel attribution analyzes the customer journey as a series of interactions, recognizing that multiple touchpoints often influence the final conversion. Doing this effectively relies on two key requirements being in place:
- Unified data: Relevant data from all the organization’s marketing channels and offline sources needs to be centralized in a single Customer Data Platform (CDP). This involves collecting and analyzing data from all touchpoints and combining in a single unified view.
- Customer journey mapping: Understanding the customer journey is a fundamental aspect of omnichannel attribution. Mapping out the path customers take from awareness to conversion helps identify all the key touchpoints that can be fed into the model to calculate their impact of each.
What are the latest trends in omnichannel marketing?
If you are inspired to push your omnichannel marketing to a new level, here are some tactics that you might consider.
- Direct-to-consumer (D2C) strategies: Brands are increasingly adopting D2C strategies to bypass intermediaries and sell directly to consumers. This approach allows them to have more control over their customer experience and data. Social media platforms are increasingly supporting this trend by integrating e-commerce features, allowing users to purchase products directly from brands without leaving the platform.
- Sustainability: As consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious, it makes sense for brands to give them the option to adopt more sustainable forms of communication. Going paperless may seem like the obvious step, but due to the sustainable nature of the paper industry these efforts might be construed as ‘greenwashing’. Instead, brands should focus on more targeted messaging and reducing waste by and giving their customers choice about the volume of the communication they receive.
- Artificial intelligence (AI): Chatbots are not a new trend, but the democratization of building them is, with the availability of no-code solutions that enable anyone to build them for channels including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Viber. Natural Language Processing (NLP) chatbots that can identify intent and respond accordingly are also becoming easier to build with specialist providers that can supply all the hundreds of intents and training phrases required to train these chatbots.