The process of building a seamless omnichannel strategy that works effectively is by no means an easy one.
I guess if it was an easy process, it probably wouldn’t need this article to outline how it can be done effectively.
So before we dive into some recommendations for eCommerce businesses, let’s take a look at what we mean exactly by:
“An effective omnichannel strategy.”
This is all about seamless user experience at every touchpoint a B2C business has with their customers. It means you are tailoring your outreach and content to provide the exact information they need and the purchase opportunities when they are ready and in the right lifecycle stage.
It doesn’t sound that complex in principle, right? You just need to make sure you are giving your audience what they want to see and discover at all the right moments.
Effective omnichannel strategies have become vital for brick-and-mortar stores to stay relevant and keep driving traffic in recent years. The idea is that with a successful system in place, the use of a variety of digital channels differentiates traditional physical retailers from their peers. In some cases can give them a competitive edge over online-only retailers by leveraging their store assets in combination with strategies like Local Inventory Ads.
A Harvard Business Review showed the importance of an omnichannel presence. Their study found that of 46 000 shoppers at a traditional US retailer, nearly three quarters (73%) of them used several channels as part of their shopping journey.
But before you can begin putting any kind of strategy in place, the first step (as always!), is for ecommerce businesses is to:
1. Understand your audience
It’s vital that you are not only defining your target group now, but are taking the time to understand how, where and, most importantly, when they are ready to be engaged with and make that final purchase decision.
Omnichannel is all about prioritising your customers, so they should be at the forefront of your focus as you begin to formulate your omnichannel strategy.
The more specific you can be, the better. It’s relatively easy to use your data to look at your audience’s preferences about your specific products, how often they prefer to be contacted and their interests in pricing.
Get started in understanding your audience:
- Go through a full customer experience on your store yourself. Interact through all your channels, put a ticket through to your customer support. If necessary, use external sources to help you in evaluating the experience.
- Talk to your customers as much as you can. Get feedback at every stage of their journey. Give them incentives like discounts and gift cards to encourage responses.
- Do keyword research to get ideas on what your audience needs and what they’re looking for etc. There are many tools you can leverage for this purpose – for example, Ahrefs or one of its alternatives.
It’s one thing to have a lot of valuable, interesting content for your users, but if a business is not delivering that information at the right customer touchpoint – it’s money and time wasted.
Let’s take an example. Say you’re a first time visitor to my website, KittySupplies.com
If I immediately tell you about how my business is helping to donate to animal rights charities, you probably aren’t going to be too interested at that moment.
The chances are, you’ll be more interested in who the heck I am, what I’m selling and if you can get a discount.
Later on down the line, it may be relevant when you have built some brand affinity. Perhaps you’ve checked out my products, spoken to a dedicated customer service assistant and received a prompt order of your delivery – now you’ll be more interested in my business’ causes.
2. It’s all about building trust in your messaging
One of the major parts of a successful omnichannel strategy is personalizing your content.
Just as you would do when structuring email workflows or social media ads, it makes sense to target your message by segmenting your audience of smaller lists.
This makes it easier to send personalized messages by having smaller groups based on similar traits. These traits could include:
- Profile data: any information you might have on who your customer is, like demographics, age, gender, marital status, location, etc.
- Campaign engagement: how your customers interact with certain campaigns and channels
- Shopping behaviour: where your customer is in their customer journey, how often they shop, when they purchased last, etc.
You can even combine some of those segments to create even smaller, more precise segments. From this point, you can set up automation to trigger when a customer performs a certain action or goes through a period of time with no action.
This way, you can send the message your customer needs at any given time in their customer journey. When you make sure that the messages you’re sending are always relevant, your customers will better respond to them. If you can build trust with customers on their way towards making a purchase, that is a successful omnichannel strategy.
This means that no matter which channel your customer is coming through, you are interacting and updating them with relevant, personalized content related to their stage in the customer journey.
Let’s take another example:
You visit my site (yes, it’s still KittySupplies.com 😉 ), and decide to sign up for my email newsletter.
- I send you a nice, welcoming mail which mentions price reductions for first-time buyers to my store with a CTA.
- You return to my store, browse some of my products, sign up from a pop-up for notifications but ultimately do not end up purchasing anything.
- From a retargeting ad on social media, you re-visit my store and end up adding some products to your basket…but not finalising their purchase
- I send you a notification about your cart abandonment, you revisit and finish off your purchases, selecting to receive SMS updates.
- Your order and shipping details are sent via an SMS.
That’s by no means the end of the customer journey of course. Effective omnichannel strategies should focus on nurturing that customer with promotions, news and updates to encourage them to make further purchases.
3. Success comes from within
So in short, your putting your customer at the center of your strategy. Every time they need you, across any channel, you are there.
But for that to work you need to ensure that your customer’s data is being used by every member of your team to deliver the full package. The more your team knows about the customers, the better each of them will be able to respond and engage them.
When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense that the whole business needs to be on board with an omnichannel strategy. The whole point is that every member is on-board with the approach you are using, and not just a sub-set who have been assigned to build the strategy.
Again, let’s take an example of how it could affect different departments:
- Marketers need that data to send the most relevant message to your customers at the right time
- Product needs the data for merchandising the products customers have the most interest in (take a look at Vision Detection Systems, for example)
- Customer success needs the data to keep a consistent conversation with customers
4. Test, test and then test again (and again…)
As with anything, your omnichannel marketing strategy will get better the more you use it, and keep A/B testing your gathered data.
As with your online store or digital advertising strategies, you need to continually test different messages, images, subject lines times, etc.
Test processes regularly to see what responses you get to which kinds of messages. If you track and measure your data regularly, you are bound to find the perfect formula.
Update and re-audit your customer experience regularly to get the most out of your omnichannel marketing strategy. Use a collaboration tool to track the progress of your activities.
By being omnipresent on the channels that your customers are using, and getting your entire brand behind creating an omnichannel experience, you will be able to give your customers a level of service that will set you apart from your competition.
It’s the only approach that major players like Amazon have made their names using.
Be on the lookout for new ways to connect to each channel and create experiences that are replicable for each.
The beauty of omnichannel is that it is scalable and available for any business. So get out there and start building your strategy!