A few years ago a marketing buzzword, omni-channel marketing, popped up. Marketing buzzwords come and go. This one is here to stay and more is important to your marketing strategy than ever.
According to Marketo, omni-channel marketing is orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent. It anticipates that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution. For example, a potential customer is looking for a gift for a friend who just purchased a new house. Their journey may look something like this:
- The potential customer does a Google search for "house warming gifts" on their laptop. The search leads them to a blog post that lists gift ideas for a new homeowner.
- The blog post references several items that can be found at Target. The customer then visits Target's website. They narrow down their gift options to two items.
- A few days later, the customer pulls up the Target app on their smartphone. They search for both items and find that they are both sold out online but one of them is in stock at a nearby store.
- The customer utilized the pick-up in store option and plans to go to the store later that day.
- When the customer arrives in the store, signage directs them to where they should go to pick up their order. The item is there and the customer is able to complete the transaction.
Before we go any further, it is important to distinguish between multi-channel marketing and omni-channel marketing. Each omni-channel experience is multi-channel. However, not all multi-channel experiences are omni-channel. You can engage in digital marketing, run social media campaigns, and a have modern, user-friendly website. If everything does not work together, they are not considered not omni-channel.
What does omni-channel mean for marketers? Omni-channel marketing provides an opportunity to reach more consumers via their preferred device, location, or digital platform. This strategy provides multiple opportunities to nurture any potential customers into loyal customers.
When reviewing successful omni-channel campaigns, the successful ones had a few traits in common.
1. The entire team is on board with the omni-channel strategy.
Lay the foundation for your omni-channel strategy by making sure key stakeholders are in the know and working toward the same goals. They need to understand what the companies goals and objectives are and how they will be executed.
Typical stakeholders include:
- Customer Service
- Staff directly involved in the customer's experience
2. Employees are properly trained and given the tools to provide a seamless in-store experience.
From the customer’s point of view, they are shopping in the same store- whether it be online, via an app, or in a physical store.
Strive to integrate online channels with physical store operations to create the most convenient experience and best value for customers. This includes making sure employees have the training and tools needed to execute their jobs. All too often the customer facing employees are not given adequate information or tools to meet customer expectations. This can create a road block in an omni-channel strategy.
3. Inventory is visibile across multiple platforms.
Make every effort to capitalize on users who have made the decision to purchase by giving them a variety of ways to purchase. Make information about various purchase options highly visible online and in-store. Let users know that they can complete their purchase either online, in-store, or utilize in-store pickup (if available). That way shoppers can choose the option that works best for them and pursue another option if, for example, their is no inventory online.
Target's site gives users the information and option to order online, find in store, or if the items is available to pick-up in store. All the information is readily available on the right-hand side before the user even adds it to their cart.
4. They address pain points.
Regularly review the experience your customers go through in order to research, purchase, and connect with your products. What pain points exist and how can your omni-channel strategy alleviate those?
Zoe's Kitchen does an excellent job of this by integrating their app, website, and in-restaurant experience, allowing users to easily order at their convenience. This eliminates the pain points of having to sit on hold while waiting on someone to take your order and ensure that the order is received and promptly prepared. Users can easily place an order and choose what time they would like it to be ready. Once an order is received, a confirmation email is sent to the user, confirming receipt of the order as well as when it will be ready.