omnichannel digital marketing
Published: 04 October 2017

First there was multichannel. Then we had cross channel. Now the leading brands have moved on to omnichannel marketing. What is it, and why should you be paying attention?

So what is omnichannel marketing?

Omnichannel (from the Latin ‘omni’ meaning everything or everywhere), refers in marketing to creating a seamless customer experience no matter how, when and where people choose to interact with your brand. It uses data gathered through every interaction to put the customer at the centre of the brand. So whatever the touchpoint, whether via an app, website or even in-store, you know who they are, and their buying habits and preferences – because you’ve connected your channels and are sharing data across them all. 

It’s an ambitious strategy, and many organisations will need to take several steps (or leaps) forward in terms of how their channels are managed. Silos (where different channels or data sets are separately managed – with a web team, social media manager, email marketing team etc) are still common in larger organisations.

What’s the difference between a ‘multichannel’, ‘crosschannel’ and an ‘omnichannel’ strategy?

Many brands realised long ago that they needed a presence across different platforms (offline ‘traditional’ like in-store, television, print media, and digital: social media, website, apps, organic search, paid search etc.) to stand a chance of engaging with consumers. This is a ‘multichannel’ approach to marketing.

‘Crosschannel’ took it a step further, linking certain platforms like social media, retargeting and email, so that consumers’ data could be picked up and used to send them more information designed to engage them with the brand and generate sales.

An ‘omnichannel’ approach is simply linking the remaining disconnected marketing activities together to create a single, seamless customer experience and increase our chances of making a sale – and brands are beginning to wake up to the value of this synergy.

An Omnichannel organisation has recognised that buyers don’t follow a linear process. So they’ll use the data collected across all their online and offline (‘omni’) channels to understand who that customer is, identify what their buying habits are and predict future behaviours. An inbound call centre or store assistant will be able to see whether and what they’ve purchased before. Do they open their emails? Do they research online and buy in store, or conduct the whole process online? When you know what they want, how they behave and where they are, you can make the whole experience all about an individual person’s wants and needs.

Why is omnichannel so important for marketers?

In a nutshell, putting the customer at the centre of the brand experience makes them more likely to buy. The idea of customer-centric marketing isn’t new, but it’s only in the last few years that technology has really matured enough to support consumers’ ideas of a customised, truly personal experience.

Today’s consumer has raised expectations of how personalised and consistent their buying experience should be. Online retailers like Amazon, Facebook and Apple have helped to push these expectations – with the result that consumers increasingly expect brands to know, or be able to predict, what they need, and deliver it more or less instantly.

Today’s consumer expects:

  • to be able to interact with a brand anywhere, any time of their choosing
  • to do, and experience, new things as information is made available to them in more valuable ways (eg tracking physical activity)
  • that when data about them is stored, it is used to tailor an experience or offer to their specific personal needs. ‘You collect data about me, so use it to give me what I want, however I interact with you.’
  • interacting with and buying from your brand to be effortless for them

Achieving this across all touch points demands that your brand takes a holistic approach to how data is shared and used across your channels.

Who is getting a good slice of the omnichannel action?

As Domino’s Pizzas Dennis Maloney says “Customers today are impatient, and their standards are unforgiving.” He goes on to talk about the brand’s previous cumbersome 25-step online ordering process, and how it lost them business through users simply giving up. Five years’ worth of web and app development later, and they’ve realised a ‘no click’ ordering service, with an app that stores a customer’s order details, and sends an automatic order 10 seconds after the app is opened.

(In our office, that could result in an awful lot of accidental pizza, but it seems that it works for this omnichannel business). 

It’s also just one of more than 15 ways to order a Domino’s pizza, which also include sending a pizza emoji, and using voice command on Google Home – so every customer can order the way they want to. It’s a far cry from the days of phoning in your order, or actually going into a branch.

It’s taken a shift in company culture to get there, so that all their online and offline channels, and research and IT teams work together, but as Maloney says, “the change in the way we think about ourselves, and the creativity we’re able to bring to our work, has paid dividends.”

Is omnichannel only for large B2C companies?

But what if you’re a small/medium retailer, or sell service rather than product. Can omnichannel be relevant to you?

Arguably, if you’re a small business with personal relationships with high value customers, or with a specific audience perhaps in the B2B space, those close relationships make it even more important to be able to focus on each and every customer. Knowing more about their buying habits, and having a direct conversation about their choices could be a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Take the next step towards omnichannel marketing success.

Are you interested in discovering how you organisation could improve it’s journey towards providing a seamless omnichannel customer experience?

Your first step could be to take the NBI online assessment*. It’s completely free, takes less than half an hour to complete online, and will benchmark your organisation in six key areas:

  • Customer recognition and permissions
  • Data collection
  • Data discovery
  • Communication and Service
  • Performance Analysis
  • Organising and Management

Measure your omnichannel maturity here

Taking the survey will help benchmark your organisation against global or sector averages and identify the areas where greater focus is required. You can even have different staff complete the survey to gain insights across internal departments.

Sagittarius is well experienced in working with brands to align their digital strategy with their distribution chain and progress their digital transformation journey - from developing intelligent web platforms which personalise the user experience for your different audiences such as end users or specifiers, to multichannel digital marketing campaigns to raise brand awareness, drive traffic and influence your sector’s influencers.

NBI is run as a global collaborative network, bringing together businesses, academics, professional advisors, media, and industry associations. The network shares and distributes data, knowledge and best practice regarding digital transformation and business success. Sagittarius is partnering with NBI and Sitecore to pilot the programme within the UK.

Josh Whiten

Digital Marketing Director

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