Omnichannel Strategy; What, Why and How [Guide]
With the progressing development of technology, people are getting more and more connected in every sense. The result? We are becoming a demanding audience to entertain when it comes to products and services we cheer for. That exact progress within the customers’ consciousness should make customer support, as well as marketers and salespeople, re-consider the way they communicate and craft their messages towards users.
When it comes to communication with customers, whether B2B or B2C, brands should consider switching to an omnichannel strategy. A holistic, omnichannel strategy allows companies to be consistent across multiple channels. Instead of focusing on one or two channels, brands have the ability to pursue more different platforms to get more customers. While on the other hand, it omnichannel approach allows customers to communicate with ease using their favorite device, channel or social network.
Companies that are trying to become customer-oriented, are turning to long-term omnichannel strategy design. Brands such as Chipotle, Starbucks, Timberland and many more are succeeding to increase user experience for better. See what are the benefits and how you can build an omnichannel strategy on your own, in the text below.
What is Omnichannel Strategy?
In its definition, omnichannel is a communication and sales approach allowing customers integrated customer experience. Broken down to elements, omnichannel customer experience allows users to consume (shop, communicate, research) brands having the same level of experience regardless of the device, platform or communication channel.
A multi-channel strategy is often looked upon as the omnichannel strategy, which is not the case. Your company may have loads of ways to communicate with customers, but some may be more efficient than the others. Take a Facebook site of your business for example. If your social media manager lacks with responses and your communication on Facebook is not aligned to the tone of voice on your other social pages, then you are not providing seamless omnichannel experience for your users.
On the other hand, the customer journey today is spreading across channels and devices. Sometimes, one online shopping experience can last up to 10 days. Brands that fail to provide great user experience within all of those platforms and channels are doomed to lose customers.
Exactly that is what omnichannel strategies are intended for – providing one seamless customer experience that is easily consumable on every device and every channel. From marketing materials, shopping experience, to communication with customer support agents and getting their shiny packages (or software) delivered.
Picture 1. Multi-channel vs. Omnichannel
How the Omnichannel Strategy Impacts Customer Experience?
An omnichannel customer experience strategy can create better engagement and increase loyalty among customers. Using the right omnichannel software tailored to your business needs, you can craft an integrated experience for your users allowing them more personalized interactions with your brand.
Seamless customer experience is the ultimate request from digitally advanced users. To achieve it brands need to combine the right set knowledge – analytics, helpdesk, CRM, customer service tools, etc. But, an omnichannel strategy well crafted and executed will provide companies with more personalized marketing campaigns, improvements to their website shopping journey and better communication with their customers.
Omnichannel Strategy Benefits
The biggest benefit of an omnichannel strategy is a better customer experience. Customers interact with brands through advertising, social media, website, e-commerce platforms, brick and mortar stores. The omnichannel approach makes that experience more personalized and tailored to their needs. Leading to increased customer loyalty, better conversions, and more word-of-mouth advocacy.
Secondly, successful omnichannel strategies lead to better marketing campaigns. With all that data on their hands, brands can craft better marketing messages and target more specific audiences using different channels. Be it a newsletter with personalized must-have’s that your customers have been lurking through or a 20% off on a Facebook page, your customers will love it!
Thirdly, a company with an omnichannel strategy have several data sources. This allows them to understand customer touchpoints (points of communication) better which allows them to design customer journey more authentic, tailored to their customer’s needs. Moreover, this kind of data can be interpreted in new product design, or new feature development as well as detecting new trends on the market.
Picture 2. Omnichannel benefits
How to Build an Omnichannel Strategy
Get to know your customers
To initiate your omnichannel strategy, you must start with the core of your business. Users. To provide them with a truly valuable omnichannel experience you must know them and their habits in depth. You should start by asking yourself basic questions such as- who they are and where are they coming from. Once you established the basics, it is time for more complex ones like -what are their goals and challenges, and most importantly how can you solve them. There are loads of different ways you can get the information from your customers, and some of tools and techniques include
- Feedback from your customers on your website
- Social Tools
- Lead capture landing page
- Newsletter research
Picture 3. Know your customer
Choose channels wisely
What does it mean? It is simple. Your research about customers that you conducted in the first step should include a part where you find out their channel preferences. Find out what platforms your customers frequently use and what devices they use to browse them. This way you may discover that there aren’t a lot of Instagram users among your target audience and thus you can put more of your efforts on Facebook and such. This way you may get more leads and more conversions, which will inevitably get you better sales results.
Match content with context
You may already hear that the content is the king, yet it means nothing without the right context. Nowadays it is no longer enough to provide insightful information, yet you must give the right information at the right moment in time. Having that in mind, you should show your customers all the discounts that they can get in the moment of purchase. That doesn’t mean you should show them how your company grew in the last few years, because it is not relevant in the process. However, after the purchase is done and the customer is happy, show your bright sides to help customers create long- term relationship with your brand.
Be agile, always
It is a must that your company is agile. That means that none of your departments should operate independently of each other. Marketing, sales, customer experience and others, they should all work as one. Many companies still don’t understand the importance of it, and it is the main roadblock on their way to developing a successful omnichannel strategy. With that kind of transition, the organization allows clear expectations and communication between teams. With the reconstruction of traditional roles, fragmentation will disperse customer experience in more departments. This will allow teams inside the organization to understand their role in relation to the other departments in that omnichannel labyrinth
Picture 4. Companies agility
In a sea of technology, marketers today find themselves in a problem. How so? The broad specter of tools is more than confusing and it is a must for a company to identify the right tools for their work. Set of combined tools is called technology stack and it can differentiate based on preferences and culture of a company. With the right set of tools, you make your marketing efforts more efficient. Research form Aberdeen indicates that the most used are:
- CRM – Customer relationship management
- Video/ Web conferencing solution
- Email service provider
- Marketing automation platform
- Print materials and solutions
- Analytics and data visualization solution
- CMS – Content management system
The most important by far is the CRM tool, which allows the company to track and record buyers journey from start to finish. Even though it is a crucial tool it would mean little without analytics. Without analytics, you can’t make informed decisions and develop a strategy. Once you have those two, you can build stack around it with tools that will help you get in touch with your customers.
Make your website responsive
You don’t want to look like an amateur, so why should your website look like it was done by one. Well designed and responsive website will attract and attain customer attention and hopefully conversion. Nobody likes getting lost while entering credit card details or trying to find the product that they like. Have in mind that your customers are reaching your brand through all devices and channels, so the content must be displayed in high quality no matter the device used or screen size.
Picture 5. Responsive website
Brands with Exceptional Omnichannel Strategies
While some are falling behind with transferring their companies with omnichannel strategies, others show exceptional use of it. Here is a short list that shows great examples of how it should be done.
Already awarded as one of the innovators in the field of customer engagement for its efforts in making their omnichannel experience as seamless as it is possible. The key to their success? Personalization. Let’s take shoes for example. If a user constantly searches for a size 9 shoes, a website will remember that, and the next time they search for those items it will return search results for those sizes available in the nearest store location. The company also takes a great deal in analyzing web, views, clicks and time spent on each page. That way they can get a better understanding of user behavior and their preferences. One of the newest things they offer is their interactive application, “Snap.Find.Shop.” with which you can upload a photo of an item you like. Item is then processed in the database using image recognition software. If something similar appears in their database, users can buy it in just a few clicks. It is that simple.
Picture 6. Neiman Marcus
Value City Furniture
This company recognized the need to build and take personal care for relationships with their customers. It is a delicate situation because no one buys higher-cost products, like furniture impulsive. To have deeper connections with their customers, they decided to aim their focus on answering customer questions and cherish rational as well as the emotional aspect of furniture selling. They even developed a platform, “Easy Pass” which fills a gap between physical and online stores. When a customer is done building its list online, a store employee can easily pull up the info from the list and show them their selection in the physical store. This way customers have the ability to see a product before they decide wheater they will go through with a purchase or not.
Glade took their omnichannel experience a step forward. The fragrance company decided to open up the “Museum of Feelings” with which they decided to link emotions and scents. They popped up a 5,300 square foot building in Manhattan with several different rooms, every carrying its specific scent, sound, and visuals for a complete experience. In the end, visitors found out that every room had a scent of a new Glade line and was lined to impulse buy while they were still under the euphoria of the experience. This campaign was recognized for its ingenuity and got awarded several times for it. Good job Glade!
Picture 7. Fragrance museum
This company showed its ingenuity through an application for rewards. Its works concept consists of a free rewards card that you can use whenever a purchase is made. It is possible to check and reload the card with your smartphone, on the website, on the app and in the store itself. All changes are in real-time and are updated across platforms. So don’t despair if you find yourself in a line for a coffee without funds. They can be added in a matter of seconds. It is considered as one of the best omnichannel experiences out there.
Walgreens decided to go all-in on their mobile experience. Customers can use their application to track, check and refill prescriptions in just a few clicks, without having to go to the pharmacy. The application also allows to set up reminders, so you get alerted if prescriptions need to be renewed. While it is not something groundbreaking, it sure helps customers to use their time more productively then waiting in line at the local pharmacy store.
It cannot be stressed enough that creating an omnichannel customer experience, does not imply re-investing in new technologies. It simply means that you are using the digital channels that you have already invested in, such as the applications, the web and mobile site, the CRM, etc, and joining them together in a centralized ecosystem that helps to provide a seamless pathway. An omnichannel strategy should seek to maximize the value of existing assets and prime them towards facilitating complete service. This is the stream of the future, and those who get on board immediately will have a distinct market advantage. If you or your company haven’t already begun to consider omnichannel strategy, now is the time.
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