The nature of marketing, especially digital, makes it easy to get distracted by the latest and greatest. We’ve all fallen victim to chasing buzzwords and wanting to be on the cuttingest of edges. After all, no one has won an award or been featured on the cover of AdAge for doing last year’s tactics competently.
In reality, while being a pioneer might get you recognition, it rarely moves the needle for your business. This is why you may be hearing so much about omnichannel lately. The idea of omnichannel marketing is practically as old as the field itself, and can be summed up simply as “getting a consistent message out across as many channels as possible.”
Back in the day, this meant creating a campaign across newspapers and magazines, radios and TVs, and billboards on highways and in cities — all touting the same benefits, using the same fonts and colors and characters. Tracking methods were primitive — mostly surveys and brand lift and bottom line measurements — but smart marketers intuitively understood that providing a consistent brand experience on any channel your customers might use was the secret to long-term success.
Modern marketers don’t have to use intuition and guess-work to know that a unified omnichannel approach works — we have platforms that can link disparate touch points across diverse channels, and a slew of statistics that validate this approach. We know that 73% of consumers use more than one channel when making buying decisions, and that these customers are 250% more likely to buy if they use three or more channels. We also know they spend 4% more in physical stores, and 10% more online. Perhaps most importantly, we know they expect a consistent brand experience, no matter how they interact with you.
Here are some key takeaways to help your retail brand reach the omnichannel shopper more effectively:
Always Be Yourself
While digital was maturing, it was common to have completely different departments handling ads, social media and community, content, email, and that’s not even counting the complete disconnect between digital and traditional and sales. That kind of siloing is no longer an option for brands that want to succeed with digital-native consumers. These customers expect your look and feel and messaging to be the same, whether they run across your banner ad or read a blog. To take it one step further, they want to get the same experience online as they do in your stores or on the phone with your customer support.
Lessons from a case study: Having consistency across their campaigns helped Topo Design drive a 7.6x ROI from their digital spend.
Removing silos helps you get more from your marketing, and makes customers feel like spending a little extra.
The web is fragmenting in a million different directions. While giants like Facebook and Google still get the majority of the focus, the reality is that the most meaningful digital interactions are now happening in small, super niche communities. Reaching potential customers means spreading your net wide — especially when you don’t yet know who your ideal customer is, or when you feel you’ve over-saturated your ideal market.
Lessons from a case study: Sunski was able to drive an ROI of 2.4x by leveraging an omnichannel approach to go past their original target market of surfers and skiers. By reaching wide, they discovered a whole new group of customers that were excited about their sunglasses — a group of customers they may not have found had they stuck to a limited, siloed approach.
Hit Them From Every Angle
Traditional marketers, back in the dark ages before the internet, knew it wasn’t enough for your customers to simply be exposed to your brand over and over again. Customers needed to be exposed to brands repeatedly, across a wide variety of mediums and channels. Using an omnichannel approach to repetition, rather than a single channel approach, acts as a multiplier on your messaging. It helps to counteract familiarity that might lead a potential customer to glaze over your messaging if they’ve seen it before, and helps to add prestige and an appearance of size and scope to your retail brand. It also allows you to target your consumers at different points in their buying cycle, driving them subtly towards conversion.
Lessons from a case study: TeePublic was able to more than double their expected holiday sales by using an omnichannel approach tied to their customer lifecycle.
Customers use different channels in different ways and at different points in their buying process. Understanding this process and being able to craft an omnichannel solution that is consistent but targeted allows retail brands to greatly shorten the buying cycle and get to conversion faster.
Don’t Be Afraid To Dive In
Too many retail brands still see physical brick and mortar as key to the whole process of selling things. It can be terrifying to abandon stores, or at least deprioritize them for an omnichannel digital approach to retail. The reality, though, is that more commerce happens online than anywhere else. Even if the final purchase is made in a store, it’s a safe bet to assume the decision to make that purchase was made long before, with the help of a digital brand awareness strategy. Best of all, modern platforms make it easier than ever to measure this digital activity and link it to sales, whether those sales are e- or regular-commerce.
Lessons from a case study: Claudio Lugli Shirts abandoned its storefronts for the web, and not only saw a 27x ROI, but saved a decades-old family business.
Brick and mortar stores are probably not going away any time soon, and traditional advertising isn’t either, but it’s critical to start shifting priorities and making digital as big a part of your strategy as retail merchandising is. When a potential customer starts researching your product online, their first interaction with your brand should be as impactful and meaningful as walking into your store, whether that first interaction is on a billboard, on Twitter, or in a search result.