What is Omni-Channel?
The term “omni-channel” has been gaining popularity as the new marketing buzz word. But what exactly makes up an omni-channel marketing strategy? You start by taking an “outside-in” approach, stepping away from company strategy and business goals, and instead, stepping into the shoes of your customer. A true omni-channel marketing approach considers a customer’s entire user experience, be it online, on their mobile device, in social media, in store, or during any other customer touch point.
Omni- vs. Multi- Channel
Some people mistake an omni-channel approach with a multi-channel approach. However, the key differentiation between the two is that multi-channel takes a more tactical approach, with its focus still set on the company strategy. Omni-channel is a more strategic approach, re-focusing on the customer, instead of the company.
According to Darr Gerschovich, VP of Marketing at Ensighten, “Interpersonal relationships are ingrained so deeply into our social fabric that a customer will view your entire brand as a singular relationship… and (omni-channel marketing) ensures that customers receive a personalized conversation with your brand.”
To successfully implement an omni-channel approach, a company must have buy-in from the entire organization, shifting from a culture focused on the strategic goals of each department to a culture focused on cohesion and consistency in your customer experience.
Four Steps to Implement a More Omni-Channel Approach:
1. Take a Walk in Your Customers' Shoes:
Try to understand and see what your customers see. Be sure that you have both an internal and external source evaluating everything from researching your company to post-purchase support. Take note of any roadblocks your customers might experience, any inconsistencies across platforms, and any processes that seem lengthy or confusing. As an example, consider the approach Starbucks takes to reduce customer wait time. They not only started offering their services via drive-thru, but also added a mobile option to order your drink before arriving at the store. The end goal in taking this approach is to create the greatest possible ease of use for your customers, understanding that the greater consistency of customer touch points, the higher their comfort level will be.
2. Keep Your Customers' Experience in Mind
With your customer experience in mind, develop a consistent and strong messaging framework based on your customer’s experience. Your messaging framework will help you define key elements of your business strategy and develop targeted messaging for your customers. The three components you should note are: (1) understanding your target market and how to reach them, (2) your competitive position in the marketplace, and (3) what differentiates you from your competition. Be sure to include proof points to explain to your customer why they should believe you. Implementing a consistent messaging framework across all platforms is key in this step, as everything you do and sell should embody your brand.
3. Be Consistent Across All Business Operations:
Next, take your consistent messaging framework and implement it across all business operations. Be sure to involve all stakeholders to get buy-in, as this is crucial to consistency. Customer experiences should align across all touch points, providing them with comfort and familiarity with your brand.
4. Track and Analyze the Data:
As your journey with omni-channel marketing progresses, track your customer feedback and use it to your advantage. See how your customers interact with your different lines of business and analyze the data to determine what’s going well and where improvements can be made.
Disney is a great example of a company that has achieved an effective omni-channel strategy.
Disney has amazing consistency across all channels, extending from travel experiences and online sites all the way to their theme parks and store fronts. Recently, they extended their omni-channel approach to include wearables. The “Magic Band” is “an all-in-one device that effortlessly connects you to all the vacation choices you make with My Disney Experience.” The magic band can be used for everything from a hotel key, to fast passes in the park, to buying food and merchandise.
Taking it one step further, the magic band also unlocks special surprises, personalized just for the wearer. With the Magic Band, Disney has created another touch point to improve their customer experience, providing superior ease of use in all aspects. Everything Disney does is to provide their customers with an experience that embodies their motto of “The Happiest Place on Earth”.
Companies with omni-channel engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel engagement.
Shoppers who buy from a business both in-store and online have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.
Only 14% of organizations say they are currently running coordinated marketing campaigns across all channels.