What is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel means employing or possessing many communication channels. Omnichannel marketing is a marketing strategy, program or campaign that is delivered across more than one channel either at the same time or within a narrow timeframe, is considered multi-channel.
Why is omnichannel important now?
An omnichannel campaign uses a variety of marketing tactics across various platforms during a short timeframe. This approach maximizes a campaign’s reach and optimizes customer engagement through multiple touchpoints. Executed correctly, a multi-channel campaign creates an immersive customer experience.
New technologies and platforms have given marketers an exciting array of channels to choose from when crafting omnichannel campaigns; email, SMS, display, push notifications, social media, direct response television, connected TV and podcast media buys are all options. Ideally, the resulting experience will be so seamless that the customer won’t remember on which channel the message originated.
In order to ensure optimal performance within an omnichannel campaign, marketers need to start by defining important campaign components. Let’s take a look at the key steps to orchestrating a successful omnichannel campaign, as well as a few brands that are putting these best practices into action:
Without setting key campaign objective(s) up front, a campaign cannot be properly measured. This is particularly important for a multi-channel campaign, where all elements and channels of the initiative need to be aligned and work together towards the same goal. Determine the key intent and objective(s) of the campaign first and be as specific as possible. Avoid broad statements like “drive revenue.” What more-granular KPIs are you trying to impact, and by how much?
Successful omnichannel campaigns begin with the mindful process of selecting the appropriate data to create the correct audience. Insights from third-party data, combined with your own audience data allows you to create a 360-degree view of your customer. This is a collection of all your data points on that consumer – from basic contact information, to past and present purchase data, interactions with customer service, and social media behavior. Once you have a 360-degree view of the customer, you can use that to create a custom audience. The primary objective of a custom audience is to allow you to create and target your ideal customers.
There are multiple hurdles marketers face when it comes to developing and executing successful omnichannel campaigns. Some of the most common mistakes marketers make include:
To select the right channels, we refer to the audience. A consumer behavior study by the IDC found that consumers who shop across channels have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who do not. We recommend choosing at least three channels for your strategy. Select your channels by learning which channel has the highest number of contactable people, and which one generates the highest engagement from the target audience for this campaign?
One thing to note: If many of your channels drive similar engagement levels, identifying the consistency of the engagement can be a helpful tie-breaker. Does one channel have a high overall average due to a recent spike, or has the performance been consistent? Make your selection based on performance history. Based on the target audience, some best practices for successful channel selection include:
Don’t automatically select the top channels based on numbers alone. Apply your intuition to vet whether the channel makes logical sense for the campaign, while letting the engagement and reach metrics guide your final selection.
Another factor to note and document is the channel overlap. Are there customers who are active among all or several of the selected channels? Knowing this can provide some insights around engagement and loyalty.
Once the channels are selected, it is equally important to determine the sequence in which each component of the campaign is deployed across channels. Should all campaign components launch on the same day across channels? Does one channel take longer to reach or be noticed by its audience than others (e.g., direct mail, signage)? To maximize the impact of each channel, determine the deployment order according to its strength and purpose.
A set sequence for deployment can further enhance a multi-channel campaign. For example, let’s say you are promoting a new product that has recently hit the shelves. It is important to build awareness and get your customer’s curiosity piqued. Maybe this is a niche product that benefits from a little education. Finally, you’ll want to invite the customers to visit a brick-and-mortar location. Each of these funnel phases – building awareness, educating, driving to conversion – could be tied to a channel that will deliver the best results.
Alternatively, if the goal is to get the word out at once and make a strong impression, you may opt to deploy all channels around the same time for maximum exposure.
Undoubtedly, every channel has more than one strength. Consider more specifically what function each channel can perform for the specific campaign. If the channel doesn’t effectively serve the objective of your campaign, you may want to reconsider its inclusion, regardless of how big of a reach it offers.
It would be remiss if we did not discuss the learning opportunities that a multi-channel effort like this can provide. By ensuring proper attribution, one unique element that can be tested in an omnichannel campaign is the effectiveness of the “multi-ness” itself, if you will.
How differently does a three-channel campaign perform compared to a two-channel campaign? How about two vs. one? If your audience overlaps across channels, this is an opportunity to understand the effectiveness of communicating with your audience through multiple channels. To best understand results, a control group is recommended. And if the audience size is large enough, a tiered control group is recommended.
With a tiered control group, you can break your control group into subgroups that are exposed to a varying number of channels (including none at all) to see how each mix performs.
Once the campaign structure has been determined through previous steps, it’s time to execute. While things never go exactly as planned, it’s important to make sure everybody involved is aligned to the same master plan and objective.
To ensure proper communication and alignment, schedule dedicated reoccurring meetings for the campaign to check in with all team members involved. Also, inform and coordinate with any adjacent teams that serve as touchpoints along the customer’s journey, such as customer service staff, POS and website teams.
If your organization has dedicated teams for each channel, it is critical to confirm that the process and calendar that drives the omnichannel campaign closely aligns with each team’s process and calendar. Create opportunities for the channel teams to understand each other’s processes and, if necessary, make adjustments (either to the process or the campaign plan). This can often be a good exercise to disrupt the status quo, and in some cases can result in permanent process changes that positively benefit a team.
Once you’ve deployed your campaign, it’s time to evaluate. Every campaign is different and should be reviewed according to its goals and objectives. However, here are a few questions that will get the ball rolling when reviewing the performance of an omnichannel campaign.
If this is the first omnichannel effort for your organization, then a post-mortem is highly recommended. Even if the whole process was problem free, there may still be improvements to be made for the next go-around. And if the execution didn’t move like a Swiss watch, don’t sweat it – this is par for the course. A post-mortem offers a chance to share performance results and share insights to improve your process for future efforts.
Conclusion: Developing a successful omnichannel campaign isn’t hard, but it does require planning and foresight. By following the above nine-step approach, companies can set their campaigns up for success.
As VP Strategy, Marie provides strategic consultation and insight for Data Axle clients, and has created marketing strategies for various companies including Coca-Cola, HP and U.S. Bank. With over fifteen years of experience in the digital marketing space, she is passionate about developing strategies that deliver a complete brand experience while supporting long-term consumer engagement. Marie has also spearheaded the development of mobile reporting and analysis for the organization by designing new ways to track and measure mobile engagement. In addition, she has co-authored Data Axle's industry-leading benchmark reports resulting from the analysis of over 5 billion emails sent across 20 industries.