What is omni Channel marketing?
You must have seen it quoted in leading business and management publications. Yet it isn’t the same as multi-channel marketing where you add mobile, blogging, social media, web to your existing promotional strategy.
Religion tells us God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. In marketing parlance, Omni channel marketing refers to a situation where the product or brand is with the consumer everywhere- be it in the retail shop, social media, online, in mobile apps, mobile sites or on the mobile phone providing an inter-connected and seamless experience. When properly deployed omni channel marketing can drive sales and create brand equity.
Here are some tips that may help even small and medium businesses achieve success with omni channel strategy:
Your brand should be omnipresent
Today consumers don’t go to a retail shop and buy a product that is available off the shelf. They search online or come to know of it from their friends or colleagues, or they might have seen a promotion on Facebook or TV. The diverse channels should be interconnected so that buying becomes a seamless experience buyer cherish. It is not the same as running a campaign in all the channels which are promotional ones in which case it is only multi-channel marketing.
A customer walks into a footwear retail store and buys a few products but couldn’t buy favourite shoes as the required size was not available. The next day he gets an SMS regarding a 50 Indian Rupee discount for next shopping and as he passes by another showroom of the same company, he gets a message informing him the shoes he was looking for is available right here.
Starbucks is reportedly the most famous brand that has got best returns on their omni channel strategy. A regular Starbucks customer reported a case where he saw a promo of the company in the Facebook Newsfeed to register for the loyalty program and get a free drink. To join the rewards program, all that the customer needs to do is to download the app and link it to Paypal or bank account to make and receive payments. This led him to visit Starbucks again to avail the offer and get rewarded in the process.
The principle of omnipresence requires that the brand should interact with customers across channels-radio, TV, social media, web, mobile, mobile apps not to just give promotion messages but to understand when the customer makes buying decisions and even deliver the message in real time.
Get customer data and intelligence
Omni marketing cannot take place without adequate customer data. A survey done three years ago pointed out that 66% use email addresses, 3% online cookies, 29% home addresses, 25% IP addresses, 24% landline phone number. Additional customer insights are received from websites, mobile, search engines, landing pages, call center, print, TV and radio and outdoors.
The need for real-time engagement requires the collection of marketing data and its analysis to deliver messages that deliver results.
Data is at the core of omni channel marketing and it should be pulled from all possible sources and incorporated into the marketing strategy to provide an integrated, seamless experience.
If data is organized along disparate silos, analyzing it is difficult and is an obstacle to implementation of omni channel strategy. Some firms use sophisticated data mining technologies to combine all marketing data from various sources- and servers, CRM, email etc into a single repository. There should be clarity on the part of marketers regarding the type of data required, their frequency, mode of collection, data formats.
Understand your customer
An omni channel marketing recognizes the fact that a customer is not just a lead converted into business but an individual with a personality of their own. The success of this strategy depends on a deeper understanding of consumer behavior and desires. Big data and surveys can give some insights into customer behavior and what they want from the product. It also means identifying which devices the customers use which enables the company to personalize each interaction and experiences with your brand.
The mindset of the retail buyer is changing. They may want to order online and take delivery from shop to get the savings on shipping costs. For retailers who want to compete with online-only sellers, this is one of the workable strategies.
Have the right technology in place
An omni channel strategy will need to have sound technology systems in place that integrates the various activities across devices. It begins with a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software integrated with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) in the backend.
Without proper technology in place, omni channel may not deliver the right messages in time and result in loss of business.
The data could come from online, in-store purchases and multiple customer databases necessitate the need to have Master Data Management (MDM) for better consolidation of data, elimination of duplicate data. To enable consistency of customer information irrespective of whether it comes from in-store, online or any other channels, MDM is a must.
Have a grouping of internal stakeholders
Having proper CRM systems and apps to take care of messaging and communication is vital for success but more importantly, it’s the grouping of stakeholders in the strategy that should be taken care of. It may include the software developers, content marketing, marketing teams, customer service, public relations and logistics teams. These teams cannot work in isolation on this strategy. They need to know the objectives, goals, and targets of the initiative.
Unless the objectives are clear, results can’t be validated. They should be put forward in clear terms such as delivering consistent customer experiences across platforms, enable seamless customer journeys with cross-channel engagement, keep them engaged in individual touch points, integration of in-store, online and mobile selling are some of them.
For a marketer and his team, understanding what constitutes a satisfying customer experience is no easy task. Therefore, the team should go through various stages of customer experience.
Customer pain points could be in searching for goods, buying them, help, browsing different sections of the website.
Learn from the success stories
There is no one strategy that can be applied across industries but analyzing some of the success stories in omni channel marketing will be helpful for those who are new to it.
The most quoted success stories are related to Starbucks, Denny’s, Taco, Virgin Air, Disney, Oasis, Bank of America among others. Denny’s, the leading US food outlet, used location-based advertising using the mobile numbers in its customer database. Most of the mobile activity takes place outside the home and Denny roped in its Ad firm xAd to launch location-based campaigns. Offers were sent to customers who passed by its outlets resulting in increased store visits. The fact that the customers of Denny’s were young, upmarket diners also helped in the initiative.
Disney offers a holistic experience beginning with its mobile-responsive website. Those who have booked a trip can use the My Disney Experiences app to plan the entire trip. It includes getting Fast Pass, find the attractions in the park. Its Magic Band program is a multi-utility app that serves as a hotel room key, device for photo storage, it can be used to order food and integrated with Fast Pass. Starbucks reward app lets customers avail rewards in any of its stores, it can be checked and reloaded via website, instore, or on the app. Real-time updating happens across all channel s when there is a change in profile or to the card.
Get internal support and sponsorship
In the medium to large organizations, omni channel requires considerable investment compared to single or multiple channel marketing. Therefore, it is essential to get boardroom support for the initiative. CEO and directors may have to be shown a business case with a possible return on investment (ROI) perspective to garner support. With executive sponsorship or support, it may not be feasible to go ahead with the program.
The need for a unified marketing platform
Marketers need to get a snapshot of in-store activity, online transactions to deliver the right loyalty programs for buyers. It should be communicated across channels-social media, email, mobile, and websites. Customers expect offers and promotions on the basis of their relationship to the company. Therefore, marketers need actionable data that reflect purchasing behavior, their interests, and preferences, to engage them and deliver good offers.
Have a mobile-friendly platform
One of the key reasons why omni channel failures are reported is the inability of the company to build a mobile-friendly platform or business processes optimized for the mobile. Amazon, Starbucks, Birch, Taco are all companies that achieved success in omni-channel marketing by having the focus on mobile.
According to survey results, people who prefer to buy in-store prefer mobile to improve their in-store experience. When searching online, a consumer may get a coupon which can be redeemed at the time of purchase in-store as some customers use the web for research not buying. Those who want to shop online and pick up the gods in-store cite the long queues in front of the billing counter as a major motivation to order online. However, inventory control is important in clothing and footwear as certain sizes and models can run out faster. If the customers searching online or in-store find certain models out of stock, they may look for similar offerings from competitors.
The changing dynamics of supply chain
According to Ernst & Young, consumer products, retailing companies need to have a proper strategy, agility and visibility to achieve success in the omni channel supply chain. It is no longer sufficient to have a traditional supply chain infrastructure to deliver results. According to analysts, visibility of inventory is quite important in the omni channel era. Without it, the retailer would be in the dark regarding the stock of goods in real time thus losing our business. New technologies can be utilized to better track goods movements including Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), and Electronic Product Code (EPC). More importantly, products must be web ready to be shared on different channels.
The success of omni channel marketing is very much dependent on understanding the customer and what all devices he uses frequently. It is different from the multi-channel strategy which ensures presence across media but not delivering a holistic experience. An omni channel marketing reaches the customer through all channels at their convenience harnessing the power of working together. Business processes should be more consumer-centric to get best results. Often flatter organizations are best suited for such strategies and not hierarchical, according to analysts.
Omni-channel has helped businesses provide better customer experience and get rewarded in terms of increased loyalty, topline, and bottom line growth. All IT majors such as SAP, IBM, Teradata have all come up with solutions for omni channel marketing which shows the huge opportunity emerging in this space.
The returns from Omni channel will only in the coming years as consumers who tend to shop online and in-store as well tend to spend more than those who depend on a single channel.
The success of Omni Channel strategy will depend on use of predictive analytics using data obtained from social media, product reviews, social media, customer feedback, online searches, and buying behavior. Sophisticated data mining tools and algorithms help in better understanding of the consumer.
Delivery of products quickly to the customer gains importance in online shopping and using physical stores to deliver helps in reducing delivery times. Omni channel strategies are still being evolved by firms to provide quality experiences and for many organizations, it is still an uphill task to satisfy the customer having journey across channels to buy a product. The penetration of mobile and smartphones have only added to the customer requirement for a more friendly shopping experience.
In due course, the Omni Channel strategy should be a win-win for both industry and consumers alike. Advances in communication, technology, and business practices are helping industry think of new ways to engage the consumer through multiple channels.
This has been a guide to omni channel marketing requires considerable investment compared to single or multiple channel marketing. These are the following external link related to omni channel marketing.
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- 10 Steps to Get Better Results from Marketing Cloud
- 10 Important Features of Global Marketing Strategies for Companies