The birth of omnichannel

Consumers have witnessed unprecedented change in recent decades.

  • Shifts in behavior and demand have opened up new markets
  • Existing markets have expanded their offerings
  • The above has triggered an avalanche of products and services

The digitalization of the marketplace freed consumers and merchants from the restraints of proximity; the resulting mass consumerism led to the rise in ecommerce, which has transformed the way we shop. This hasn’t just resulted in spiraling growth, but shaken the foundations of marketing as a whole.

We now live in an omnichannel world. This blog will explain how we got there.

But if you’d like a definition of omnichannel, you’ll have to download our whitepaper here.

The rise of inbound marketing

Brands can no longer dictate an idea to customers. Instead, customers fuel the idea and, in response, brands agree on their message and shape their offering. It’s a complete role reversal.

Blasting a one-size-fits-all message to an anonymous audience is ineffective, while sacrificing budget to blindly mass market is simply a waste of money. To meet the needs of modern consumers, brands need to align their positioning to the characteristics of their target audience.

Inbound vs. Outbound

Outbound marketing was effective 30 years ago. However, today it can provoke annoyance and can be highly interruptive to on-the-go consumers. Broadcast commercials, for instance, are likely to irritate your everyday series bingers – from Game of Thrones to Love Island fans – while they’re watching catch-up.

A softer, two-way approach was needed to pique the interests of modern consumers. The move to ecommerce opened up many possibilities, providing brands and customers with an array of platforms to interact with (i.e. responsive websites and apps).

Consumers now actively participate online; this has enabled marketers to better recognize individuals and tailor messages to those most likely to purchase. Since inbound marketing lets the user come to the brand, businesses can capture better quality leads.

This drives cost efficiencies; as targeting those ripest for conversion is more economical than broadcasting to the masses. Four times as many marketers say inbound provides higher ROI. Outbound on the other hand involves more moving parts and its effectiveness is much harder to track.

The shift to online

The digitalization of commerce has brought new opportunities to consumers and businesses. It’s caused a dramatic shift from one-way marketing to seamless, two-way communications.

The rapid development in technology, along with an inflated population, has resulted in a demand for:

  • new markets
  • better products
  • improved methods of selling
  • convenience when buying

According to Business Insider, ‘nothing can stop the shift to online shopping’, especially in the case of retail where we’re witnessing a mass exodus of department stores.

So. Much. Choice.

Consumers have a near-infinite number of products to choose from and countless brands to buy them from. They’ve also an unprecedented level of control in how to communicate and interact with brands. Similarly, marketers have plentiful ways of delivering the first-class experiences demanded by omnichannel customers.

On the flipside, whilst technology empowers businesses to market effectively, consumers are empowered to dodge the marketing they’re not interested in. Email recipients can easily overlook or unsubscribe from messages landing in their inbox, while web users can download add-blocking software on their browser.

Customers now seek value from experiences as well as from tangible products; brands need to focus on the online journey in its entirety, making sure each and every touchpoint is consistent and seamless.

Going mobile

Handheld devices have transformed our lives and revolutionized how businesses market and sell their products and services. Mobile marketing has a direct and wide reach, empowering brands to build awareness and cement customer loyalty.

Smartphones and tablets are increasingly becoming the go-to devices of communication across many demographics – from teenagers to city commuters to retired couples. For many of us, our iPhone or Android can’t be more than an arm’s length away; as well as being our primary mode of communication, it’s also our morning alarm, music apparatus, fitness tracker and purchasing device.

Omnichannel consumers are ‘always on’

81% of all adults in the UK have a smartphone and the time they spend on it is rising (Comapi, 2018). In 2017, it was estimated that UK consumers spent 1 hour and 59 minutes on their smartphones per day. In 2019, this figure is set to increase to 2 hours and 14 minutes.

Omnichannel consumers rely heavily on their mobile devices. So much screen time means they’re ‘always on’ and highly attentive towards notifications. For instance, 90% of SMS messages are read within 10 seconds. For brands that adopt smart tactics and clever targeting, they can win big on mobile.

Brands need to finesse their mobile presence. While many have adopted a ‘mobile-friendly’ approach (the bare minimum) to their marketing efforts, retailers in particular are championing a ‘mobile-first’ approach. The ‘it works on mobile’ attitude isn’t enough. Being ‘mobile first’ is designing for the smallest screen and then scaling up. It’s the most effective way of maximizing responsiveness across all devices and delivering a positive first-touch experience for mobile users. This helps drive conversion and sets the scene for a great customer journey.

Customers call the shots

Omnichannel customers want to immerse themselves in the world of the brands they advocate – and they’ve certainly got the technological resource to do so. Take social media as an example. Each medium provides consumers with a platform of influence where they can conceptualize ideas, create persuasive content and converse en masse.

To leverage the power of social activity, brands need to be at the core of every single conversation. Social content is the new, reinvented storefront; 47% of millennials cite social media as an influencer of their buying decisions. Whilst these ‘social surfers’ might avoid marketing through more traditional mediums, they’re likely to seek advice from their peers (such as friends and family) on the best products and services.

Social proof and trust points

The term ‘social influencer’ was coined to describe individuals who, having attained a large social following, drive the collective opinion of their audiences. The content they create, such as reviews or commentaries, will no doubt affect purchasing behavior. This is especially powerful for brands looking to monetize the social sphere.

Businesses, to gain from this social phenomena, will need to incorporate ‘trust points’ in their marketing practices across every channel. Today, B2C brands share the meaningful experiences of their customers, while B2B companies shout about client success.

In both cases, brands build trust through exhibiting a strong and emotive connection to their customers – your problem is my problem, your success is my success, etc. – as well as a true understanding of their needs. The best way to communicate brand credibility is through authentic storytelling. Prospective customers who relate to these powerful stories will want their share in the winnings.

Start your journey to omnichannel

Omnichannel can be mystifying. Download our whitepaper here and we’ll demystify it for you. We’ll also provide you with steps on how to become an effective omnichannel marketer.

 

The post The birth of omnichannel appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Omnichannel: 5 elements that encapsulate the experience of simultaneous engagement

Omnichannel experience is one of the big buzzwords in the business world for good reason. Offering an omnichannel experience to customers goes above and beyond a multichannel experience. The two are very similar, but there are some key differences.

Instead of simply offering customers multiple channels to make their experience more personalized, businesses are bringing these multiple channels together to work simultaneously. Here, we’re going to break down why this practice is important for your business and what elements encapsulate the omnichannel experience.

What is omnichannel?

The omnichannel experience brings multiple channels together for customers to use simultaneously. While it is mostly a marketing tool, it can easily and effectively trickle down to other aspects of business, especially customer experience. The simplest example of this might occur when a customer walks into a retail store looking for an item. They want to be in and out quickly, and there are no employees around. Instead of walking around the store looking for an employee to direct them to the item they need, they pull out their phone and go to the website to see a) if the item is at the store; b) if the item is in stock; c) how much the item costs; and d) what aisle the item is located in.

Rather than having to choose between ordering an item online or going to the store to buy the item yourself, you can do both simultaneously for a better experience. This could also apply to the experience of customer service. In an ideal omnichannel world, a shopper can speak to someone behind the desk while pulling up the item on their phone if, for example, there’s a price discrepancy at that particular location, or if the customer has a question about the return policy.

Omnichannel experiences help improve many aspects of customer experience. Sales, marketing, and customer service teams can all take advantage of what omnichannel brings to the table to drive ROI and increase brand loyalty.  

Elements of the omnichannel experience

Now that we’ve defined an omnichannel experience, we can talk about what actually goes into it, and why it differs from a multichannel experience.

Multiple channels

Offering an omnichannel experience requires multiple channels for customers to use. These channels are simply different ways for people to interact with your business. They could come in the form of a website, a brick-and-mortar store, an app, or a phone service. There are other ways businesses and customers can interact with each other, but the key to separating a multichannel experience from an omnichannel experience is that customers can use multiple channels simultaneously.

Channels Are used and updated regularly

One major problem with multichannel experiences is that, although they offer customers different ways of interacting with businesses, what often happens is that one channel isn’t as strong as the other and gets ignored. This can affect the efficiency of your ROI. If we go back to our original example of a person walking into a store and relying on the app to improve the experience, but the app doesn’t work, then the omnichannel experience becomes pointless and can even have detrimental effects.

Scalability

It’s not enough to update and use certain channels regularly. If you’re offering an app that lets users go back and forth between their computer, phone, and even a tablet, the website and app have to work together seamlessly — meaning there’s no loss of information, the channel easy to navigate, and buttons and menus actually work. Multichannel solutions are often not fit for purpose because some channels are better than others. Omnichannel solutions look to take the best from each channel to provide an all-round positive experience.

Combining online and offline channels

This is especially important for retail stores and e-commerce websites who either spend all day face-to-face with customers or never see who they actually are. Let’s say you’re looking for an item and can’t find it on the shelves. You look to the app and see that they have it in stock. You go find an employee to ask if they have any more of the items in the back, and they immediately tell you no because they checked before. Instead of leaving the store defeated, you can show them the app and correct their mistake. Disney provides a prime example of this with its omnichannel guest experience.

If you’re an ecommerce business, and customers have a problem with their order, it’s important to offer omnichannel customer support so they can reach you via email, phone, via a form on your website – or even on social channels like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. If a customer has a negative experience and they have no one to engage with to rectify their issue, they’re going to think your only concern is taking their money. This kind of experience can drastically hamper your brand’s reputation – and ultimately your bottom line.

What about social media?

Social media plays an important role in the omnichannel experiencesbecause social media itself is an omnichannel experience. Let me explain. If you’re marketing on social media, that usually includes incorporating more than one platform. Think of platforms as channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. If your business uses Instagram primarily, change the settings so posts also go live on Facebook and Twitter. That way, you’re more likely to reach customers earlier. Plus, you’ll expand your reach to audiences that only use one platform over the other. When social media is one of the channels you use in your omnichannel experience, you achieve omnichannel inception. Who doesn’t want that?

Final thoughts

Omnichannel experiences are an absolute essential for businesses. In fact, 73 percent of consumers are already using more than one channel for shopping. The key is to bring these channels together into one 360 degree marketing strategy. The best part about the omnichannel experience is that it’s adaptable to multiple departments; customer support, sales, and marketing can all take advantage of the channels they’re already offering customers. Sophisticated, personalized customer experiences are the new standard going forward; if you haven’t taken advantage of this yet, it’s time you start.

Check out our resources page for free cheatsheets on your marketing challenges

 

The post Omnichannel: 5 elements that encapsulate the experience of simultaneous engagement appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 2 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

5 stats that’ll help you understand your customer’s omnichannel experience

It seems like just yesterday when the key behind winning customers was in the quality of your products or services. How times have changed. Any marketer will tell you, today’s prime drive to success lies in the ‘customer experience’. And in 2016, at the heart of this is the omnichannel journey today’s savvy customer travels on.

To continue fulfilling the evolving needs and expectations of the modern consumer, retailers need to meet them across all channels. Omnichannel retailing is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ — it’s a must-have for any online retailer.

Multi v omni

Let’s be clear, it’d be an expensive faux pas to think your multichannel provisions have your omnichannel requirements covered. In fact, both may have the same touchpoints on their lists, but it’s in the interaction between, and reliance on each channel, where omni comes into its own.

Omnichannel has at its heart the knowledge that most customers navigate between many touchpoints to make a purchase. It recognises the consumer’s leaning to explore various channels, and places them – their lifestyle, problems, needs, and desires – at the heart of the strategy. The aim is for the matrix of channels to work seamlessly together, to provide a positive brand experience – and to drive purchasing.

Historically retailers have fallen behind their customers when it comes to the changing landscape of how they shop. The reality is, where once there were two or three touch-points they’d meet with, now there’s an average of 4 or 5. From the smartphone under the pillow, to the desktop in the office – recognising your customer’s experience is a journey involving a multitude of devices and platforms really is vital in today’s competitive market.

Omnichannel retailing creates a more positive sentiment for the brand, leading to better word of mouth marketing and sales, across multiple channels. It’s a lot to take on board for those just starting out on their omnichannel development – but in amongst the plethora of information out there, here are 5 stats that should help offer clarity.

Stat #1: If you’ve got an omnichannel customer engagement strategy, you’ll retain 89% of your customers[1]

And without, it’s 33%. So, let’s start with this one, just for any doubters who are wondering if they can go head-in-the-sand over omnichannel. Sorry, no. That’s 56% of your custom you’re risking if you do.

What’s more, research shows that omnichannel consumers are likely to spend up to 25% more. This increase comes as a result of optimized cross-selling and upselling achieved only by capturing information that tracks the customers in real-time across all channels.

Stat # 2: People spend an average of 2 hours a day browsing the internet on their smartphones[2]

It was last year that saw the balance tip, before then it was our desktops and laptops that held the accolade for most time spent online. And so it’s inevitable that more and more of the moments across the customer journey are happening right there. Whether it’s performing a search, opening an app, visiting a website or watching a video, people turn to their phone to get answers and, increasingly to take action.

As well as making sure sites are developed for mobile optimization, there’s also a psychological factor that wise retailers will consider: Smartphones are personal. In fact, around 66% of us have one within reach right now. They’re in our pockets, on our kitchen tables at dinner and, admit it, they’re even in our beds. Not delivering a seamless mobile experience is unforgivable – and your customer’s journey will come to an abrupt end if your mobile site isn’t up to scratch – they certainly won’t take to their desktop to find your comfort zone.

Stat #3: 56% of customers use a mobile device to price compare[3]

If helping your competitor out is the objective in mind, then make this price-comparison factor cumbersome. In fact, 43% of consumers will visit a competitor’s site next, after a negative mobile browsing experience.

Interestingly, much of this price comparison occurs when the customer is in the bricks-and-mortar store, connecting online research with in store buying is an essential tactic for today’s buyer. Savvy customers will search online for offers, vouchers, discounts whilst in stores – all to make sure they’re getting the best deal out there.

Stat #4: 75% of customers online will give details that’ll increase a retailer’s understanding of them[4]

Combining channels makes for a more complete view of the customer – who they are, what makes them tick – allowing for the holy grail – bespoke, tailored, personalised marketing. Customers are regularly asked for postcodes, emails, birthdays and other information, and this data can be compiled along with customer preferences for search words and more.

There’s a plethora of tools claiming to hold the keys to this “me-commerce” nirvana. And as successful big-brand online retailers have come to master the art of personalisation, the expectations of consumers have increased drastically.

Retailers need to use insights to drive specific objectives for each customer – across all touchpoints – engaging customers and giving them what they want, when they want it. For instance, there’s navigational personalisation, based on browser behaviour, and predictive personalisation – the “if you like this, you might also like…” route.

Stat # 5: 25% of shoppers who use their mobile devices in stores, make a purchase on their mobile devices whilst there[5]

Retailers now know their biggest challenge is to merge the digital and physical selling worlds into one seamless customer experience, and this stat is the epitome of this. The purchases that occur this way include products that aren’t in stock, those in a size currently unavailable in a specific store, or, and most painfully perhaps, those on other retailer’s site – where the customer’s found the same or similar item at a better price.
So even for those customers for which the lure of the high-street still holds true, technology, especially mobile, is having an impact on the store experience – changing the shopper’s path to purchase, and calling retailers to up their game and clinch the sale in store, before their customer grabs their beloved phone.

This guest post was written by JH.

 

[1] Sessioncam customer engagement stats

[2] Ofcom

[3] Ofcom

[4] Accenture

[5] Internet Retailer

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Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com