What is omnichannel, and how you can get there in five steps

I’m sure you’ve heard the word ‘omnichannel’ thrown around the office, within articles (like this one!), or at events. I assure you it’s not the latest buzzword or fad. It’s here to stay and develop.

This article will explain what omnichannel is, why it’s important, and how you can ensure your brand is set up for omnichannel success.

Before we continue, I know it can become confusing to differentiate between omnichannel and multi-channel marketing. They sound as though they should be the same, right? Wrong! Here’s how the two differ…

How is omnichannel marketing different from multi-channel?

Omnichannel is about delivering a consistent and cohesive customer experience via any channel the customer chooses. It’s about true continuity, providing your customers with a unified experience, no matter where they are, what device they’re using, or when they’re using it.

Retail is anything but dead – contrary to what some people may think. It’s just expanded from the bricks-and-mortar stores to now being conducted on phones, social platforms, tablets, interactive kiosks, and more.

But, one thing to remember is that people are still buying in store. (Not right now of course, because the COVID-19 outbreak means we must stay at home, but soon the high streets will be busy again.) We just need to connect all of these channels, online and offline, together to talk to one another.

Because most customers will start their buying journey in one channel and move to another as they research and progress through the buying cycle. This cycle can be as short as a few minutes or it could extend to many months.

Think a light-bulb to a sofa. Whatever the length, it’s important that your brand provides consistency across all channels and is appropriate at each step of the way. If you’re not consistent, or if a customer nosedives at any hurdle, your presence will disrupt both the user experience and ultimately your bottom line.

What’s the value of omnichannel marketing?

I’m sure you’re asking yourself if implementing an omnichannel strategy is really worth it. Before I delve in to how to start devising this strategy, let me share some statistics with you.

The Harvard Business Review studied 46,000 shoppers to measure what impact omnichannel shopping had on their experience:

  • 7% shopped online exclusively
  • 20% were store-only shoppers
  • 73% used multiple channels

Another study by Business Insider found that shoppers who engaged on multiple channels made purchases more often:

Omnichannel shopping data

Now that it’s clear an omnichannel strategy will have a positive impact on your marketing and ROI (the numbers don’t lie), here are five steps to get an omnichannel structure in place.

1. Know where your customers are and on what devices and platforms

This will show you where they are likely to shop and hang out, plus what impacts and motivates their daily lives. You can look in dotdigital Engagement Cloud reporting to show on which device your recipients opened their email campaigns. The acquisition reports in Google Analytics can also help you to gain a wider view of the channels your recipients are using. You can see which specific places are driving people to your site and then you can take it one step further by using dotdigital’s abandoned browse and cart functionalities to complete the purchase. Are you starting to see that everything links in with one another and that together, you are creating a solid omnichannel strategy encompassing the customer lifecycle?

2. Make every touchpoint accessible and shoppable

One of key parts to creating an omnichannel strategy is to make it as easy and accessible as possible for your customers to purchase. You also want to ensure that you have as many touchpoints as possible set up for your customers to make said purchase. If someone adds a product to their cart on your website, make sure it shows up in their cart too in their mobile app. If they visit Facebook, make sure you’re displaying suggested products based on their previous product viewing. This can be done using dotdigital Engagement Cloud’s social media channel integrations.

3. Bridge the gap between online and offline

Customers want to connect with your brand both on and offline. They want to know if something is in stock before they come to visit your store. The 21st Century has seen people with less time and more to do. They want to be able to add that item to their cart en route to the store and have it waiting for them at the collection area when they arrive.

4. Sharpen your segments

I talk a lot about this when I’m delivering talks and holding webinars. I’m also certain my clients could recite my speech about segments in their sleep. In short: segment, segment, and segment some more. Segment your audience, create personas, and tailor your message to each specific audience.

Here at dotdigital we’re all about instilling to our clients to send the right message, to the right people, using the right channel, at the right time. Equally, use what you know about the stage in their buyer journey and customer lifecycle to provide the next level of detail that will move them closer to purchase. dotdigital’s RFM persona movement is a powerful tool which will demonstrate what stage your contacts are at and allows you to easily create a segment based on that phase.

5. Don’t delay, start building today!

(A little bit of Cheddar cheese thrown in for good measure there, sorry!)

Even if you take the smallest of steps to get an omnichannel strategy started that’s more than what some of your competitors are doing right now. Review your content across all channels to ensure that visitors pick up where they left off. Guarantee content is tailored on various social media platforms to suit the channel and the audience, and that they’re well-coordinated and complementary of each other and your overall message.


Creating a more seamless transition from channel to channel has the control to help you retain your customers. Limiting yourself to one or two platforms and lacking a seamless integration can be disadvantageous and damaging to your brand’s continuing development.

Find out more about omnichannel marketing here.

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