Thanks to e-commerce and entertainment giants like Amazon and Netflix, today’s customers have come to expect the same deeply personal customer experiences across industries. They want to be seen, heard, and understood by the companies they choose to do business with. And the pandemic has only intensified this.
Now, what does omnichannel marketing have to do with this?
Customers interact with a brand up to 8 times across multiple channels before making a buying decision. To make the most out of this buyer behavior, brands must implement streamlined messaging across all of their platforms to meet consumers where they are. This means that everything from phone calls with customer service reps and interactions at brick-and-mortar locations, to landing pages, marketing emails, and social media ads have to be in-sync.
Omnichannel marketing unifies multiple channels and provides an integrated buying experience.
In this super-complete article, we'll explore everything you need to know about omnichannel marketing.
- What is omnichannel marketing
- Multichannel vs. omnichannel marketing: What’s the difference?
- Example of omnichannel marketing
- What is an omnichannel campaign?
- Benefits of omnichannel marketing
- How does omnichannel marketing increase sales?
- What does omnichannel strategy mean for financial institutions?
- Challenges of implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy
- How can a marketing automation platform help a financial institution’s omnichannel strategy?
- More sources
What is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel is a strategy that puts the customer at the center and improves the customer experience by seamlessly linking multiple channels, both digital and traditional.
This approach involves sending relevant and tailored messages based on the customer’s behavior throughout the sales funnel. Instead of the channels working in parallel, they act as extensions of one another. This means that, no matter where a viewer is consuming content or interacting with a brand, they will receive a consistent experience. What happens in one channel is reflected in every other channel.
With the use of omnichannel marketing technology, brands can give customers a seamless and consistent buyer’s journey across all digital and non-digital platforms.
Multichannel vs. omnichannel marketing: What’s the difference?
Many brands practice multichannel marketing and believe they’ve got all their bases covered. They have an Instagram strategy, a cart abandonment strategy, and an SMS strategy that applies to all of their shoppers. Unfortunately, multichannel marketing leaves out a key piece: the individual customer journey.
Unlike omnichannel marketing, multichannel marketing puts the brand at the center of the strategy instead of the customer. This means that the same message is often sent out to customers on all platforms and channels, no matter what their individual buyer’s journey is like. The channels don’t adjust based on each customer’s needs or behavior. Likewise, customers can also receive one message via a channel (e.g. direct mail) and a totally different message via a different channel (e.g. mobile app). This is because, in multichannel marketing, the channels work in silos.
In an omnichannel marketing strategy, each channel automatically updates its messaging as a customer moves through a sales funnel so the next channel can offer the most relevant message.
We all know how frustrating it can be to call a brand's customer service phone line and speak to a live human about an issue you are encountering with a product or service. Via this channel (phone), you seem to solve the issue. Then, down the line, you re-engage with the brand via a different channel (say, your online account). A change or preference that you discussed on the phone hasn't been reflected on your file. There is seemingly no record of your initial engagement and you are left with a bad taste in your mouth of the brand because you haven't been seen or heard. This is a classic issue with multichannel instead of omnichannel.
Here are a few ways omnichannel marketing differs from multichannel marketing:
- In multichannel marketing, each channel has individual goals and metrics which function independently.
- Multichannel marketing puts the brand at the center of the strategy and focuses on generating consumer engagement, rather than streamlining the customer experience.
- Multichannel marketing often focuses on spreading a message through as many channels as possible.
- In a way, multichannel marketing creates redundancy, inconsistency, and even internal competition between channels.
- The goals and metrics for each channel are intertwined. All efforts focus on streamlining the customer experience and providing a holistic approach.
- The streamlined experience results in consistent messaging throughout the whole buyer journey.
- While multichannel marketing aims to spread a message through as many channels as possible, omnichannel marketing only focuses on amplifying those channels that improve the customer experience.
- Omnichannel is an example of synergy, in which the combined effect is greater than the sum of parts. This gets reflected not only in sales, but in customer loyalty.
Example of omnichannel marketing
Imagine your last online purchase. Your buyer’s journey may have looked like this:
- You come across an ad for a new office chair that is perfect for your home office on Instagram and click it.
- You are directed to a landing page with more details and user reviews. After reading them, you are still interested so you add the chair to the cart and create an account. But, you’re on your mobile and have to go somewhere so you don’t complete the purchase.
- The next day, you receive a text message with a discount code for the product in your cart, which persuades you to complete the purchase.
- A week later, you start receiving emails based on your previous purchase and browsing history. They include articles on how to improve your work-from-home set up, as well as product recommendations (hello, cross-sell!), which you find useful.
- You also start seeing Facebook ads inviting you to the in-store events in which they take your measurements and recommend how to set the ideal desk and chair heights.
- So you attend and, while in the store, you scan the QR code on product tags to pull out product info, reviews, and usage suggestions from the store mobile app. You are looking at a new desk and you get notified that there's only one in stock. You can buy it directly from the store app—it can't get any easier than that!
- You purchase the desk via the app and head straight to the pickup section of the store to get it.
- The pickup staff is friendly and gives you all sorts of tips on how to set up your new desk.
How many channels did you count in this experience? 7! Instagram, landing page, text message, emails, Facebook ads, physical store, and mobile app. And it doesn't have to stop here; you can add the call center, direct mail, and so on. There was not only a continuity across channels, but every time you switched, you gained something that only that channel could provide.
What is an omnichannel campaign?
Omnichannel marketing campaigns have clear goals and objectives centered around the customer experience, rather than the brand itself. In order for it to be successful, an omnichannel marketing campaign requires collaboration between multiple business departments, such as:
- Customer Support
- Customer Success
Omnichannel marketing campaigns apply to both digital and traditional marketing channels across product and service industries.
The first step in implementing an omnichannel marketing campaign is establishing which channels are the most relevant to your business. Where are your target customers hanging out? What channels are the most effective in reaching them? How are customers transitioning between platforms?
You must recognize that your customers navigate between different channels and ensure those transitions are fluid. This means the strategies for each platform must be seen as one, rather than as separate entities.
Benefits of omnichannel marketing
A successful omnichannel marketing campaign leads to a smoother customer experience and, as a result, increased ROI.
Let’s take a closer look at a few of the benefits:
Increased customer loyalty
Since the buyer’s journey is thoroughly captured, consumers feel seen and heard, which develops a stronger connection to the brand. When consumers feel connected to a brand, they’re more loyal and less likely to go with a competitor.
Increased brand visibility
By having all of your channels work together, your brand is able to place your message across multiple platforms in a more timely and consistent manner. This means your visibility is amplified.
Highly accurate target marketing
The integration of multiple channels provides you with extensive customer data that helps you better segment and target your campaigns.
With the insights from your omnichannel campaigns, you’re able to deploy resources more efficiently. You easily get a bird’s-eye view of what channels are the most fruitful so you can adjust spending accordingly.
How does omnichannel marketing increase sales?
Let's take a look at the retail industry, one of the first to adopt omnichannel marketing. A report by IDC Retail Insights found the following insights from retailers using omnichannel marketing strategies:
- 15-35% increase in average transaction size.
- 5-10% increase in loyal customers' profitability.
- 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.
These statistics are promising as they relate to a company’s bottom line. As we know, a growing average transaction size directly affects sales revenue. Customer profitability (how much a customer contributes to a company’s profit) helps a company understand which relationships are most valuable. Plus, a higher lifetime value (a prediction of the monetary value of a customer relationship) helps a company hone in on the long-term health of their customer relationships.
What does omnichannel strategy mean for financial institutions?
Financial institutions can benefit immensely from omnichannel strategies for all customer communications—both sales strategies and operations.
Historically, customers did their banking in their preferred channel (e.g. in-branch, at the ATM, phone banking, etc.) and each channel had their own tech stack. But, in today's increasingly digital age, customers now expect the ability to use various channels. This means they might start an account query in their online banking and then go in-branch or on the app to finish the process. With omnichannel, all of their information is captured along the way.
For example, imagine a credit union member who receives an email with a special offer to refinance his auto-loan. It's a pre-approved rate and it projects $2000 in savings. He is interested, clicks "apply," and is directed to a landing page with a form that is pre-filled with all his information. Because he's at work, he's not able to continue it now. Thankfully, he gets an in-app notification with a link for him to resume the process. Later at home, he completes the process from his desktop computer and completes it with an e-signature.
Financial institution customers want the flexibility to begin a process on one device and complete it on another. What's more, they expect this to be seamless and in real-time.
More so than any other industry, banks and credit unions have unparalleled levels of customer and member data that they can leverage. Sending general marketing campaigns to all members regardless of their demographics and behavior or sending different messages via different channels (in silos) is a missed opportunity. By leveraging data, financial institutions can run cohesive omnichannel campaigns with unified messaging that meet customers where they are (on their preferred channels).
Challenges of implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy
While an omnichannel marketing strategy provides many benefits, there are also challenges that come with restructuring your business’s marketing and communications efforts in this way.
For one, it can be costly to invest in a new platform that supports omnichannel, especially since it may require an overhaul of the existing tech stack (which can come with technical challenges). Since all businesses have different needs and budgets, it’s important to choose a platform with multiple pricing levels so you can best select one that fits your business’s goals.
Implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy may also require a shift in corporate culture since there is an increased focus on digital marketing and customer interaction. Because of this, it’s critical to provide staff with a thorough onboarding and user-friendly training process to ensure they’re completely comfortable with the new processes.
On a similar note, financial institutions that have previously relied on human contact can struggle to build trust with customers through digital channels. Customers who are used to a certain way of banking (such as in-branch or over the phone only) may become frustrated or feel alienated. Therefore, the omnichannel experience must prioritize meaningful communications.
How can a marketing automation platform help a financial institution’s omnichannel strategy?
Executing an omnichannel campaign is no small feat so you need the right martech tools to do so. Luckily, financial institutions can leverage high-caliber marketing platforms to help deepen relationships, improve loyalty, and increase share of wallet.
Selecting the right marketing automation platform can help your business capitalize existing customer information, design relevant campaigns based on this knowledge and your company goals, prioritize which campaign is the most relevant for each client, and execute all of your omnichannel campaigns accordingly.
While omnichannel marketing is a horizontal strategy, working with an industry-specific technology has its advantages which relate to two areas unique to financial institutions:
- Unlike other industries, financial institutions own channels with existing organic traffic (online banking and mobile app). Integrating can be very complex, but also critical to delivering an omnichannel experience.
- Unlike other industries, financial institutions already have lots of data on their customers. This creates the challenge of accessing and making sense of this data in a way that is automated, secure, and compliant.
Because these financial institutions' particularities are both obstacles and opportunities, industry-specific technologies with a proven record of understanding them can be of great value when implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy.
Want to give omnichannel campaign management a try with Prisma Campaigns? Book a free personalized demo.