Creating a Seamless Omnichannel Marketing Strategy: 12 Steps to Success
Today’s consumers have more options to consider than ever before, and that’s not all. Products and services aren’t the only things that have exploded in diversity and scope. Alongside the growth in competition, there has been the growth of many new channels—new ways for consumers to encounter and interact with brands. With companies potentially staking out a presence in a half dozen or more distinctly unique channels, there is incredible potential to create a “sticky” brand experience that easily follows consumers to achieve marketing success.
However, embracing these interconnected systems’ potential is easier said than done. A truly “omnichannel” strategy requires you to build and deliver a seamless experience across all platforms. More than seamless, it must be responsive, too. A single weak link can undermine the effectiveness of your broader campaign. So how do you build an omnichannel marketing strategy that yields the results your business needs?
Let’s take a closer look at omnichannel marketing and examine the critical steps you must take to drive towards success.
What is an Omnichannel Strategy?
Previously, a company might focus exclusively on one or two avenues to reach customers and provide them with experiences. Today, with digital and physical worlds that have become increasingly connected, that approach leaves too many opportunities on the table. So-called “omnichannel” marketing is the solution to this problem.
Simply put, an omnichannel approach aims to provide consumers with opportunities to interact with the brand in as many places as possible—no matter what device or platform the individual uses. An omnichannel strategy aims to engage users effectively with positive, branded experiences and generate quality leads.
Using various tools to create a unified approach, omnichannel strategies strengthen brand identity and deliver persistent user experiences that can boost sales, improve engagement, and more. However, it’s easy to confuse an omnichannel strategy with a “multi-channel” strategy. On the surface, they can look very much the same. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find substantial differences.
What’s the Difference Between Omnichannel and Multi-Channel?
In multi-channel marketing, a business may use different touchpoints for users. Multi-channel marketing is the standard approach for most companies today. However, these touchpoints are often disparate and disconnected. The company’s website, Twitter page, Facebook profile, and other elements might all serve important content to users—but not a seamless experience.
Interconnection is the key difference between multi-channel marketing and omnichannel strategies. When you start thinking in-depth about reaching consumers, you must recognize that a true omnichannel approach demands a strategy for every platform someone might use to reach your business. The content must work to drive home your key points. When a user wants to take action, such as buying a product, it should be easy for them to attain that goal—no matter what platform they’re on when they decide it’s time to buy.
The Keys to a Successful Omnichannel Strategy
Seeing that an omnichannel strategy has benefits for your brand is essential, but how do you go about putting it into practice? Before we examine the 12 key steps that can help you build an effective approach, it’s essential to understand the fundamental elements you must consider. Remember, if you want to be effective, you need to have a unified vision to deliver a connected experience to consumers. That need demands a strategy that includes a focus on the following:
- A smart, modern sales strategy. Whom do you want to sell to and where? Developing a targeted and segmented sales strategy will illuminate which platforms hold the most potential value for your business. Start by knowing where you want to go—with the goal in mind, it’s easier to chart a path.
- The right tools and platforms for the job. You can’t connect the dots between disparate platforms with wishful thinking—you need technology that makes it easier to manage the entire marketing environment in one convenient place.
- A unified marketing approach and an interconnected brand ecosystem. Consistency is key, but at the same time, you can’t be repetitive. Explore how to share your message in new and exciting ways while simultaneously fostering a brand environment where your customers always feel like they know where to turn for help or how to take the next steps on their own.
- A definitive approach to order fulfillment. With so many potential ways for consumers to commit to a purchase in today’s omnichannel environment, you can’t afford to let orders slip through the cracks. Build up your approach to logistics, strengthen your supply chain if and when possible, and know how you’ll put the capstone on the best buying experience with quick, reliable fulfillment.
The 12 Steps to Omnichannel Success
With a sense of the groundwork you need to lay before beginning, you can start considering the concrete steps you’ll need to take to equip your business for omnichannel success. What are those steps?
1. Acquire the Necessary Tools for the Job
Omnichannel success doesn’t appear out of thin air. There’s no magic wand to wave to unify your different marketing streams; you must forge those connections yourself. Making those connections demands a software stack that immediately provides the tools you need. This should include mechanisms to manage email lists and marketing campaigns, analytics tools, social media management software, and software to rapidly change your website. The more you can centralize management of all these channels, the easier it is to knit together a compelling brand network.
Of course, software only goes so far. Be sure you have the framework to produce printed documents and other real-world marketing materials to tap into the power of physical retail spaces just as effectively as the digital domain.
2. Identify the Most Valuable Channels Your Customers Use
Your brand can’t be everywhere, nor should you want it to be. Instead, you want to be where your customers are. “Omnichannel” doesn’t have to mean pushing your brand into every single space possible. If 90% of your target audience uses platforms such as Instagram or TikTok, you probably aren’t the kind of business that would see substantial benefits from integrating LinkedIn into your strategy. Explore market research and consider who your target is to select channels to build your connected approach intelligently.
3. Determine How Your Customers Journey Towards Buying
To craft an effective ecosystem that keeps customers and potential buyers in contact with your brand, you need to consider the journey they may take towards buying. As you map the customer journey, you can quickly identify gaps in channel connectivity and consumer outreach while also seeing how customer interactions may lead them from platform to platform. Use this research to keep your experience consistent; you don’t want consumers to hit a dead end that stops them from making a purchase.
4. Start Slow and Maintain a Steady Pace
Omnichannel marketing is not the strategy that yields immediate and overwhelming success. Instead, like a tide, it builds upon itself over time, strengthening as you integrate more platforms and enable the seamless experiences today’s consumers expect. In other words, start slow. No one starts out juggling six or seven balls at a time. Instead, there’s a learning curve—like there is with omnichannel strategies. Before you can run, you have to walk. Perfect the basics, and add more channels as you grow.
5. Investigate App Opportunities
Do you need an app? Everyone seems to have an app these days—but that doesn’t mean you should feel pressure to invest in development if it doesn’t make sense. Apps can provide a meaningful way to unify experiences, especially across digital and physical spaces—but they can also be a bottleneck that leaves users feeling stuck with poorly-designed software. Identify whether a dedicated app makes sense for your consumers’ buying journey. If you decide to invest in an app, remember one thing: you get what you pay for—and customers will notice.
6. Use Content That Leverages Each Channel’s Strengths
Although you should aim to present consistency in tone, voice, and ideas communicated through your content, omnichannel approaches can suffer from monotony. A streamlined, connected experience does not mean slapping identical boilerplate copy everywhere your business has a presence. Not only is that boring, but it does nothing to propel buyers on their journey. Instead, tailor your content to each platform or device. You can find many ways to share similar ideas without losing a user’s interest.
7. Shoppable Posts Offer Instant Omnichannel Opportunities
The power of the omnichannel strategy is not a well-kept secret—and social platforms have begun to recognize the immense demand for tools and opportunities to help companies achieve successful outreach projects. “Shoppable” posts are one of the best opportunities to connect experiences for your consumers.
Making their debut on Instagram but likely coming to other platforms, a “shoppable” post is content that contains a branded product—such as an Instagram model sporting a specific handbag on a night out. The post offers a quick way to learn more about that product with a built-in link. Integrated into your strategy, you can capture impulse purchases with shoppable posts that take users straight toward the checkout pipeline.
8. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly Today
If your website isn’t mobile-friendly already, you’re behind the times. Developing a mobile version of your website is no longer optional, and you can’t afford to make it an afterthought. Reaching mobile users is a pillar of the omnichannel approach because it opens the door to integrating digital and physical shopping experiences, such as augmented reality. Make sure you aren’t missing out on many people who browse the web exclusively from mobile devices today.
9. Start Segmenting Your Audience
Without robust audience segmentation, your brand will be stuck producing generic content that doesn’t appeal to more motivated buyers. If all you do is target the broadest audience possible, you leave many valuable opportunities untouched. Start segmenting your audience into the demographic categories most beneficial for your brand, be that a particular age range, a specific gender grouping, or even geographic location. There are many ways to segment audiences. Once you have the data to see where your most valuable buying personas exist, you can tweak your approach across every channel to effectively reach these people.
10. Offer Customer Support Over Multiple Channels
The pathways for researching and buying products aren’t the only things you should focus on unifying in an omnichannel strategy. What about customer support? If someone’s only option is to call a toll-free number for support, it’s not practical or convenient. Likewise, an online chat option only available for a few hours a day doesn’t help. You should strive to make help and support options available in as many formats and channels as possible—so when someone needs help, they can find it without delay. Delays drive buyers off the path you want them to travel.
11. Keep A/B Testing Front and Center
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Even something that works for a competitor might not work well for you due to subtle audience differences. For that reason, omnichannel strategies survive and thrive based on extensive A/B testing. Over time, such comparative research can let you home in on the best way to message your audiences.
12. Lock Down Your Data
Throughout this entire process, you’ll handle one thing more than anything else—data and lots of it. Customer data is incredibly valuable for informing the direction of your strategy, but it can also be a bomb that could blow up in your face. Security cannot be an afterthought. Protect your business and its customers from bad actors by responsibly using customer data and personal information within a highly secure environment.
Realizing an omnichannel strategy is not an overnight project. Success requires a wholesale embrace of the process and a complete reconfiguration of how you think about sales and marketing. However, executing this transformation effectively can put you miles ahead of the competition—primarily when they’re still serving up inconsistent and disconnected experiences on the web and in the physical world.
Is an omnichannel strategy right for your business? Take a step back today, examine how you could benefit from this approach, and evaluate how it might help improve long-term shortcomings in performance. These marketing strategies can yield impressive dividends with the proper foundation and a clear sense of the steps you need to take to get started.