What Is Omnichannel Marketing?

photo of a colorful makeup palette with a black background
photo of a colorful makeup palette with a black background

As you develop your digital marketing plan, you'll need to address how to incorporate an omnichannel marketing strategy, especially if you want to deliver exceptional customer experiences across different channels. As you do, you'll realize that omnichannel is not just another marketing buzzword. 

This article discusses the definition, purpose, and best practices for incorporating omnichannel marketing in your business. 

Each channel has individual objectives and metrics, and they function independently. the major distinguishing factor between omnichannel and multichannel marketing is that omnichannel marketing prioritizes the customer over the brand.

Defining Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel marketing aims to deliver brand messaging and a customer experience that is unified across multiple channels to existing customers or potential buyers.

Why Is Omnichannel Marketing Important?

While some marketing tactics are focused on single-channel engagement, omnichannel marketing is a cross-channel tactic orchestrated to reinforce your brand message in a context-sensitive way.

No single channel carries the burden of acquiring a new customer. Instead, all channels are synchronized to make the right impression—at the right place and right time—and carefully build on each other. In an omnichannel strategy, all of your marketing channels, messages, customer service, and brand touchpoints are working together in harmony to deliver a customer experience that feels consistent to the potential buyer throughout the customer journey.

This can be a challenge for marketing teams given that the modern customer is shopping or researching services and products across multiple channels. From in-store displays to in-app promotions, marketing, PR, social media, sales, and even customer service teams must not be burdened down by silos if they want to deliver a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels.

What Is an Omnichannel Customer Experience?

Imagine reviewing your Instagram feed only to see an ad for a product that piques your interest. After clicking on the ad, you end up on the product's landing page. After reading about it, you might search the web for reviews or check in with your social circle to ask if anyone has used that product. 

Upon verifying that it's a good product, you return to the e-commerce site and buy it. Alternatively, if it's convenient and available, you might go to a brick-and-mortar store and make your purchase offline. 

Once the purchase is complete and you are using the product, you may then see personalized display ads on your mobile phone for the same brand. At that point, you may revisit multiple platforms to check out those products but not necessarily in the same order as before. That’s because you are now familiar with the brand and don't need to ask your social circle for recommendations or read reviews.  

This example demonstrates the main purpose of this type of strategy: create a relevant, consistent customer experience that emphasizes personalization and engagement that is channel-agnostic. A retail shopper engaging with your brand in-store should an experience that mimics the one they would experience when browsing through your products on social media. In this sense, omnichannel marketing is changing the retail landscape.

So, how to create an omnichannel strategy? To do this successfully, you need to focus on acknowledging the buyer's unique preferences, interests, and tastes. 

Customers shopping in a retail environment.

How to Develop Your Omnichannel Marketing Strategy

Planning and implementing this digital marketing strategy requires a complex and thoughtful approach. Your goal is to create lifetime value with your target users, helping them through multiple purchase journeys. Even as shopping experiences change over time, focusing on customer retention tactics can drive lifelong relationships.  

Step 1: Understand the Your Customer and the Customer Journey

To start, research buyer touchpoints, develop buyer personas, and carefully assess the shopping experience in detail.

Your omnichannel strategy should define how you can address the needs of both potential customers and existing customers as part of a customer-centric program. To gain an understanding of your target customer, begin by identifying their wants, needs, behavior patterns, demographics, habits, preferences, motivators, goals and so on. You can analyze your existing customers as a starting point for this research.

After conducting this research, you may need to alter your perception of what each buyer’s journey looks like. Spending adequate time studying customer behavior, including why they abandon shopping carts or leave a website altogether.

Meltwater's monitoring and analytics software gives marketing teams numerous ways to segment and analyze audiences based on user data. To learn more, explore our customer insights & analytics capabilities

Step 2: Involve Multiple Teams and Departments

Remember that you want to deliver a unified experience both pre- and post-sale. Therefore, the success of omnichannel marketing relies on the collaboration between your marketing and sales teams, so be sure to integrate people from each department in the development of your strategy. 

Step 3: Select the Right Marketing Channels

Utilizing the research you conducted earlier, define the channels that important for your omnichannel strategy. Remember, there are multiple touchpoints that a customer can have with your brand throughout the customer journey, and you need to ensure you are delivering a consistent experience at each touchpoint. Whether it is word-of-mouth marketing or point-of-sale displays, an omnichannel experience is seamless for the customer.

When developing an omnichannel strategy, you want to prioritize the channels your audience(s) is present on. Now, maybe your target audience group includes Gen X and Gen Z shoppers, which means you'll need to consider your channel mix for each target group based on their preferences.

Step 4: Develop a MarTech Stack

Next, determine and minimize the number of MarTech tools that you plan to use for omnichannel marketing. With thousands of tools available, it's important to not go overboard here. Focus on tools that address key aspects of the buying experience, including customer relationship management (CRM), content management, marketing automation, SEO, social media, and analytics.

Step 5: Track the Right Metrics

How are you supposed to understand if your omnichannel marketing strategy is working, if you are not tracking the performance of your social ads or in-store promotions? Using UTMs, promo codes or cookies, you should be able to measure the conversation rates of your ads, landing pages or social media posts. It is considerably easier to track the performance of digital channels, but you will want to analyze each touchpoint that a customer may have with your brand. 

Often your main goal will be revenue-based, but other goals could include brand awareness or brand sentiment. 

Step 6: Test, Refine and Optimize Your Strategy

The retail stores shoppers are visiting and digital ad formats available online are always changing, which is why it is important to constantly be reviewing your strategy. As these channels evolve, so too should your marketing strategy. By testing different channels with different, you may discover new ways to cross-sell your products and services.

The Difference Between Omnichannel Marketing and Multichannel Marketing

Often, marketers use the terms “omnichannel marketing” and “multichannel marketing” interchangeably. Yet, these are distinct tactics. Multichannel marketing focuses on independently addressing as many channels as possible. Omnichannel marketing puts users and their experiences at the center of marketing throughout the customer journey.

Omnichannel Marketing and Personalization 

Your omnichannel strategy should also address segmenting and personalizing all marketing communications directed at your target audience. Here, you'll need to go beyond the more generalized main message to call out your users’ specific needs. Look for ways to add personal touches to all your content, from ads and emails to landing pages and social media posts.

One of the most important actions to take with your omnichannel work is to make it as easy as possible for users to reach you on their preferred channels. That means you have to do more than provide a social media profile URL or a generic email address. 

Other digital channels to integrate into your omnichannel campaign include an app for mobile devices and a responsive website that works on all devices, including smartphones and laptops. Provide clear assistance that leads to your online stores, retail stores, or pop-up shops. Also, harness the power of conversational marketing and self-service features like FAQs, a user forum, instructional videos, and an automated help-desk. 

Benefits of Omnichannel Marketing

Applying these best practices to your omnichannel marketing strategy can boost your retention rate and strengthen customer loyalty. In crowded marketplaces, this marketing approach can also enhance brand recall so that consumers keep you top of mind when they are ready to buy. 

Another key benefit is the ability to fuel revenue growth across these communication channels. The better you can segment and personalize your omnichannel campaigns, the more prospects you'll reach in each target area. In turn, that means you can convert more new customers and better nurture their lifetime value.

Now that you understand the basic tenets—and power—of omnichannel marketing, you're ready for our comprehensive guides to mapping customer journeys, even when they’re unpredictable, so you can create a messaging ecosystem that drives prospects to your brand.