Giving your customers a fully formed omnichannel experience doesn’t have to be a struggle. But with so many avenues to pursue (Web, social media, email, apps, in-store, geo-fencing, etc.), it can seem a bit overwhelming. Let’s start with a look at why brands need an omnichannel strategy, and then explore how to implement one with ease and positive ROI.
Lock in your brand presence
Your brand may be fairly digitally savvy, but there is always room for improvement, especially with the speed at which the digital industry changes. Are you paying attention to your analytics on all platforms? Are you developing customer experience maps, testing and evolving accordingly? Be sure to continuously optimize everything you own, including your (hopefully responsive) website, campaign landing pages, apps, targeting, usability, consumer feedback, and so forth.
In addition, if you haven’t yet begun to optimize your social presence, now is the time. For some verticals, social may not be the best route, but for most, your audience is waiting. Engage them with creative strategies integrated across all of the major platforms and devices, including social giveaways to promote your brand, inter-app communication to inform customers and provide multiple options, push notifications and geo-fencing to remind your customers of your brand and the solution you have for them, precisely when they’re in a location close to your brick-and-mortar store.
Another important piece of omnichannel is in-app purchasing and in-store mobile engagement. Some companies have begun to allow in-store product photos, where the user can take a photo in-store, and see other similar products, versions or customizations of that same product from that same store right on his/her phone while still in the store. This drives purchases for products that customers may not even be aware of, and still generates a sale. Quite the purchase funnel, isn’t it? But how do customers know about this app? How do they know that you can provide them with a solution you may not have in the store? Well, omnichannel isn’t just digital. Your print marketing, outdoor advertising, newspaper flyers, radio and television ads, store signage, and in-store influence are also part of your omnichannel strategy.
Remember that omnichannel marketing isn’t about blanketing every possible outlet with the same information. It is about creating clear objectives in order to give consumers a rewarding, relevant and integrated experience across all channels. Strive for continuity with your branding and content, but take advantage of the strengths of each channel you’re using in order to bring them together.
Search strategy is vital
If you’ve looked at your conversion path or customer experience mapping and determined that it is effective, the next step is to optimize search (until you need to optimize your conversion path again). This is very important. When you implement a search strategy, you are able to drive more traffic to your website with multiple ways to leverage who, what, where, how, and when to reach your specific audience. Online brand visibility is often a brick-and-mortar retailer’s biggest shortcoming, and implementing a search strategy within the larger framework of omnichannel marketing is how you can begin to fill that gap.
This strategy falls under the umbrella of search engine marketing, or SEM. This includes paid search advertising (PPC), but it’s more than that. Establishing a professional, complete and unified presence in search engines will provide more search real estate for your brand by harnessing branded and non-branded terms that are relevant to your business. That’s in addition to running paid search ads.
This strategy provides you with a competitive advantage. Want to promote your website and your brand? Optimize for the right keywords. Looking to promote your new app? Utilize PPC to drive the right customers to download your app for the solution they’re looking for. Trying to create consumer reviews and encourage others to shop? Make sure you’re utilizing your social profiles like Google+ to maintain a humanized presence and get reviews, and again, gain even more search real estate when someone goes looking for a product or service that you offer.
Use mobile to connect the dots
The mobile Web strengthens brands’ ability to reach customers and potential customers at any time. This isn’t something to overlook. However, given the ubiquity of smart phones coupled with the consumer’s ability to find information at the touch of an icon, your brand’s mobile strategy must be on point, or consumers will simply look elsewhere.
Relevant audience targeting is crucial to helping brands find, recognize, and engage consumers. One way that many big-name retail stores (i.e., Target and Best Buy) are winning back customers from online “big box” stores like Amazon is by offering added value to brick-and-mortar purchases. By letting customers shop online but pick up from a local retail store, the store keeps the sale and the customer gets to purchase from the store of his/her choice without incurring a shipping fee or being thwarted by an item that was being sold in-store only.
Consumers are more connected, informed, and empowered than ever before. If you expect to keep customers and engage potential prospects, you’ll need to meet them where they communicate, browse, and shop. With competitors only a quick click away, forward-thinking brands will adopt omnichannel marketing and integrate it into their commerce strategy. What are you doing to make sure you haven’t missed the omnichannel boat?