Small-to-medium business owners are starting to realize there’s more to marketing in 2016 than there has been in the past.  With buzzwords like Omni Channel Marketing floating around, what does the average SMB need to change to keep up?

The traditional ways of eCommerce marketing are no longer effective. Over the last few years, the old rules and guidelines have slowly been taken over by a new, multifaceted approach.  To achieve the success your company needs this year, you will need to take a look at the process of multi-channel marketing, aka omni channel marketing.  This will involve you taking a personalized approach towards consumer communication and understanding their shopping habits. You need to gain a crystal-clear understanding of a consumer’s journey to a purchase and what channels they use on a regular basis.

There are multiple devices and channels that the modern-day consumer tends to use in a single purchase cycle. One of the most effective tactics that you can follow, therefore, is the omni channel marketing.

But what exactly is omni channel marketing?

Omni channel marketing is all about smooth, consistent branding through multiple sales channels.  Though suddenly popular, the term “omni channel marketing” isn’t just a current trend word for eCommerce marketing. It does, in fact, denote a substantial change in the flow of today’s marketing efforts. Long gone are the days when shoppers only visited a single source for a sale, such as a brick-and-mortar shop or  online storefront.  The modern-day consumer now engages with a brand through many different channels – traditional store, online stores, mobile applications, social media, and more. They use a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop or a personal computer to complete a purchase… and sometimes at the same time.  How many times have you seen people using a shopping app, while in a brick-and-mortar store?  It’s become very common. Maybe they’re comparing brands or looking for a good coupon to justify their purchase.  Whatever their reasoning, omni-channel marketing allows brands to provide consumers with a consistent, seamless experience, no matter what channel or device they might be using.

omni-channel trend for 2016As the overall scenario of the online retail market rapidly changes, the importance of omni channel marketing only increases.

Let’s take a quick look at some key predictions for the retail marketing in 2016 –

  • Sales through mobile devices will continue to grow.
  • Consumer fulfillment expectations will be greater than ever.
  • Shoppers will look for a consistent shopping experience.
  • Local inventory search will make significant progress.

 

In the light of these predictions and trends, one can easily understand the importance of omni channel marketing in 2016, as well as in years to come. Since the purchasing journey of the modern-day consumer is no longer a linear one, the omni channel approach enables marketers to craft a seamless path to the sale, making it easier for shoppers to get from point A to point B. However, the unfortunate side of omni-channel marketing is that very few marketers actually understand it, get confused by its simple goal and cannot successfully set it in motion.  At this point, having help from eCommerce marketing experts can always help. Sometimes it just takes a professional voice to pull the ideas together. 

Omni-channel marketing is about creating a consistent, personalized buying experience for the consumer. Whether you operate a B2C or B2B business, you need to give the consumer the freedom to control the buying process. Regardless of how they go about their shopping and buying routine, it’s your job to make the experience completely smooth, familiar and uninterrupted, from start to finish.

Below are some useful tips to help you get started with omni channel marketing:

omni-channel

Understand your target audience consists of real people with unique shopping habits!

1) Think of Your Customers as Real People: You’re real. Your employees are real. And your customers are real people as well. It’s so important to realize this and treat your customers as humans, with their less-than-perfect needs and expectations. Focus on how you can personalize your customer’s experience, based on what gives them shopping enjoyment.

Get some internal and external testers on board to review the experiences that your customers have on a daily basis. Launch A/B testing for any new campaign you setup.  Find out what multiple channel interactions look like. Test order placements. Test and improve. Test and improve.  Test and improve. Ensure each action that the customer takes throughout their buying journey is free from any kind of hassles. Make them as delightful as possible.

2) Get a Holistic Picture of the Buyer: Since omni channel marketing involves making purchases via multiple channels and devices, customer profiling is something you can never ignore. When you plan to provide your customers with a seamless, uninterrupted buying experience, you really need to know them in every possible detail.

There are various tools and technologies that can help solve this ‘customer identity’ puzzle. But first and foremost, you need to ask the right questions about your customers’ persona and proceed from there.

3) Develop Personalized Content/Messaging: How do you communicate with customers who are in different stages of their buying cycles? By now you know you can’t just use the same type of content to interact with all online shoppers so keep building towards personalized efforts. This includes potential customers who are just browsing vs those who have selected stuff for their shopping cart but has yet to complete their purchase.  You must develop content/messaging that addresses the specific customer behaviors of your target audience.

For example, if you’re trying to re-kindle the interest of a past customer, your promotional email will be much different than it would be if you’re targeting a client who left things in their shopping cart without completing the sale. The more personalized your message or promotion to them, the better rate of success you’ll have in completing that sale.  

omni channel analytics

Analytics are an important part of omni channel marketing!

4) Track and Measure Everything: Data is big, and omnipresent. In order to get the most of your marketing dollar, all efforts should be driven by the facts.  Use tracked and measured data for greater success and return on investment. There are analytics tools that SMB owners can use to track habits, not of just individual campaigns but also the response of real people over time. The more data you have, the better messaging you can do. You’ll be able to develop appropriate content/messaging by channel.

Omni channel marketing is more than just today’s newest trend.  It’s a complete change in the way small-to-medium business owners should look at marketing to their target market.  It involves providing a consistent, personalized experience over multiple devices and methods, including but not limited to, brick-and-mortar shopping, PC shopping, tablet shopping, mobile shopping, app shopping and more.  

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