What is omnichannel marketing?

The digital revolution has placed the shopfront on the consumer's coffee table.

Consumers have witnessed unprecedented change in recent decades – the birth of omnichannel.

  • Shifts in behavior and demand have opened up new markets
  • Existing markets have expanded their offerings
  • The above has triggered an avalanche of products and services

The digitalization of the marketplace freed consumers and merchants from the restraints of proximity; the resulting mass consumerism led to the rise in ecommerce, which has transformed the way we shop. This hasn’t just resulted in spiraling growth, but shaken the foundations of marketing as a whole.

We now live in an omnichannel world. This blog will explain how we got there and what all the fuss is about.

For even more on omnichannel marketing, download our whitepaper here.

The rise of inbound marketing

Brands can no longer dictate an idea to customers. Instead, customers fuel the idea and, in response, brands agree on their message and shape their offering. It’s a complete role reversal.

Blasting a one-size-fits-all message to an anonymous audience is ineffective, while sacrificing budget to blindly mass market is simply a waste of money. To meet the needs of modern consumers, brands need to align their positioning to the characteristics of their target audience.

Inbound vs. Outbound

Outbound marketing was effective 30 years ago. However, today it can provoke annoyance and can be highly interruptive to on-the-go consumers. Broadcast commercials, for instance, are likely to irritate your everyday series bingers – from Game of Thrones to Love Island fans – while they’re watching catch-up.

A softer, two-way approach was needed to pique the interests of modern consumers. The move to ecommerce opened up many possibilities, providing brands and customers with an array of platforms to interact with (i.e. responsive websites and apps).

Consumers now actively participate online; this has enabled marketers to better recognize individuals and tailor messages to those most likely to purchase. Since inbound marketing lets the user come to the brand, businesses can capture better quality leads.

This drives cost efficiencies; as targeting those ripest for conversion is more economical than broadcasting to the masses. Four times as many marketers say inbound provides higher ROI. Outbound on the other hand involves more moving parts and its effectiveness is much harder to track.

Online marketing

The digitalization of commerce has brought new opportunities to consumers and businesses. It’s caused a dramatic shift from one-way marketing to seamless, two-way communications.

The rapid development in technology, along with an inflated population, has resulted in a demand for:

  • new markets
  • better products
  • improved methods of selling
  • convenience when buying

According to Business Insider, ‘nothing can stop the shift to online shopping’, especially in the case of retail where we’re witnessing a mass exodus of department stores.

Omnichannel marketing means more choice

Consumers have a near-infinite number of products to choose from and countless brands to buy them from. They’ve also an unprecedented level of control in how to communicate and interact with brands. Similarly, marketers have plentiful ways of delivering the first-class experiences demanded by omnichannel customers.

On the flipside, whilst technology empowers businesses to market effectively, consumers are empowered to dodge the marketing they’re not interested in. Email recipients can easily overlook or unsubscribe from messages landing in their inbox, while web users can download add-blocking software on their browser.

Customers now seek value from experiences as well as from tangible products; brands need to focus on the online journey in its entirety, making sure each and every touchpoint is consistent and seamless.

Mobile marketing

Handheld devices have transformed our lives and revolutionized how businesses market and sell their products and services. Mobile marketing has a direct and wide reach, empowering brands to build awareness and cement customer loyalty.

Smartphones and tablets are increasingly becoming the go-to devices of communication across many demographics – from teenagers to city commuters to retired couples. For many of us, our iPhone or Android can’t be more than an arm’s length away; as well as being our primary mode of communication, it’s also our morning alarm, music apparatus, fitness tracker and purchasing device.

Omnichannel consumers are ‘always on’

81% of all adults in the UK have a smartphone and the time they spend on it is rising (Comapi, 2018). In 2017, it was estimated that UK consumers spent 1 hour and 59 minutes on their smartphones per day. In 2019, this figure is set to increase to 2 hours and 14 minutes.

Omnichannel consumers rely heavily on their mobile devices. So much screen time means they’re ‘always on’ and highly attentive towards notifications. For instance, 90% of SMS messages are read within 10 seconds. For brands that adopt smart tactics and clever targeting, they can win big on mobile.

Brands need to finesse their mobile presence. While many have adopted a ‘mobile-friendly’ approach (the bare minimum) to their marketing efforts, retailers in particular are championing a ‘mobile-first’ approach. The ‘it works on mobile’ attitude isn’t enough. Being ‘mobile first’ is designing for the smallest screen and then scaling up. It’s the most effective way of maximizing responsiveness across all devices and delivering a positive first-touch experience for mobile users. This helps drive conversion and sets the scene for a great customer journey.

Omnichannel customers call the shots

Omnichannel customers want to immerse themselves in the world of the brands they advocate – and they’ve certainly got the technological resource to do so. Take social media as an example. Each medium provides consumers with a platform of influence where they can conceptualize ideas, create persuasive content and converse en masse.

To leverage the power of social activity, brands need to be at the core of every single conversation. Social content is the new, reinvented storefront; 47% of millennials cite social media as an influencer of their buying decisions. Whilst these ‘social surfers’ might avoid marketing through more traditional mediums, they’re likely to seek advice from their peers (such as friends and family) on the best products and services.

Social proof and trust points

The term ‘social influencer’ was coined to describe individuals who, having attained a large social following, drive the collective opinion of their audiences. The content they create, such as reviews or commentaries, will no doubt affect purchasing behavior. This is especially powerful for brands looking to monetize the social sphere.

Businesses, to gain from this social phenomena, will need to incorporate ‘trust points’ in their marketing practices across every channel. Today, B2C brands share the meaningful experiences of their customers, while B2B companies shout about client success.

In both cases, brands build trust through exhibiting a strong and emotive connection to their customers – your problem is my problem, your success is my success, etc. – as well as a true understanding of their needs. The best way to communicate brand credibility is through authentic storytelling. Prospective customers who relate to these powerful stories will want their share in the winnings.

Start your journey to omnichannel marketing

Omnichannel can be mystifying. Download our whitepaper here and we’ll demystify it for you. We’ll also provide you with steps on how to become an effective omnichannel marketer. And don’t forget about our blog.

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