What is omnichannel marketing? 5 key questions

What is the purpose of omnichannel marketing?

In short, because of increasing customer expectations. Consumers increasingly expect an unambiguous message throughout their customer journey. The use of different channels or devices is no exception. This presents the entrepreneur with a challenge. A challenge that is successfully met by means of omnichannel marketing.

What is omnichannel marketing?

Omnichannel marketing is a consistent and smooth customer experience across different marketing channels. The different channels are seamlessly geared to one another for the most integral (buying) experience possible. With an omnichannel marketing strategy, you always reach your customers at the right time, via the right channel and with the right message. Your choice of marketing channels is completely in tune with your target group.

An overall omnichannel strategy does not only focus on an alignment of your marketing channels, but also of your sales, communication and distribution channels.

What are the benefits of omnichannel marketing?

Omnichannel has two major advantages. And it should, because it takes a lot of time and effort to correctly implement a powerful omnichannel marketing strategy.

The average customer retention rate of companies is 39%. Companies that use a strong omnichannel strategy retain no less than 89% of their customers. The fact that it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain an existing one makes omnichannel marketing a no-brainer. The reason the customer retention rate is so much higher has to do with the customer getting a deeper connection to the brand. This connection contributes to customer loyalty and customer satisfaction.

Another great advantage is that (potential) customers are more inclined to make a purchase if the various channels connect seamlessly. This uniformity creates a sense of trust in your company. In addition, the consumer can use his or her own preferred channel.

What is the difference between multichannel, cross-channel and omnichannel marketing?

Omnichannel marketing can be seen as the superlative of channel deployment. Good would stand for single channel, better for multichannel, best for cross-channel and very best for omnichannel. Here is a short explanation of each approach:

  • Single channel: this is where you focus on just one channel. As companies on average get 80% of their customers from their best marketing channel, a full focus on this is certainly not a bad plan.
  • Multichannel: if you focus on two or more marketing channels, you speak of multichannel if they are not connected. In other words, in multichannel all channels are used separately from each other.
  • Cross-channel: this is the method by which the (potential) customer is served in one uniform way via multiple channels. Multiple channels are hereby combined in an organised manner.
  • Omnichannel: the brand experience, prices and information remain the same among the various channels used. The channels are seamlessly attuned to each other.

To make the difference even clearer, here is a table comparing the approaches on three factors: the number of channels, alignment and decision-making.

Amount of channelsTailored to customerChannel selection
Single channelOneN/ABy company
MultichannelMultipleNoBy company
Cross-channelMultipleYesBy company
OmnichannelNo limitYesBy customer

In the table you can see that omnichannel distinguishes itself mainly by placing the decision making for the channels to be used with the customer. This makes the customer journey a ‘custom journey’. You facilitate the customer to set his or her own course towards the purchase. Furthermore, you can see from the table that there is no limit to the number of channels. This does not mean that you should focus on all channels that exist. You only choose the channels where your target group can be found.

In practice, you see that these terms are often used interchangeably, even by marketing specialists. By knowing the subtle difference between these terms, you will know exactly where there is room for improvement.

How do I start with omnichannel marketing?

It is good to know that omnichannel has two components: the technical and the mindset component. The technical component is about connecting systems and data. By doing this, you get a complete and up-to-date customer view. Mindset relates to the entire brand experience whereby maximum uniformity in behaviour, information, forms of address, culture, etc. must be aimed for.

By adopting a customer-first attitude, omnichannel marketing is a logical consequence. In that case, you already automatically look at the channels used by your customer and their corresponding customer experience.

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