3 tips to achieve your omnichannel strategy

The word omnichannel continues to be a buzzword for marketers. While the majority of marketers are operating with either a cross-channel or multichannel strategy, the goal is to be omnichannel and it’s proven to be profitable for companies.

Businesses that adopt an omnichannel strategy achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates.

So as a marketer, what can you do to achieve your omnichannel marketing goals? Consider these three tips that I shared at the Ricoh Marketing Innovators Symposium.

Tip #1:

Understand what omnichannel means and where folks are on their journey 

It’s important to understand the difference between multi-channel and omnichannel marketing.

  • Multi-channel can be defined as marketers who transact and engage with customers in more than one channel (for example in-store, online store and website), however, the channel insights are not connected.
  • With omnichannel, there is integration across all channels so marketers can achieve a 360-degree of their customers.

To fully understand what omnichannel means and where folks are on their journey, you need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and evaluate your organization to understand how you can connect with each and every customer. And, you need to provide the best customer experience and make it a seamless experience..

Remember, omnichannel is not a technology itself nor can you buy it off the shelf. It’s a strategy and a journey with a life of its own. It’s not a destination.

As you're planning your omnichannel strategy, think of the customer journey and all of the stages within the various lifecycles—customer, purchase and seasonal lifecycles. Determine how you can best communicate to your customers throughout each phase of their lifecycle and the channel they’re interacting in.

For example, if you think print will trigger an emotion and influence an in-store visit or an online purchase, then add print to your customer lifecycle strategy.

Tip #2:

Integrate a technology strategy that best meets your goals

I know, you’ve heard it time and time again ... Technology is a fundamental component in enabling our omnichannel goals. The key is deciding on the best or most effective technology stack for your program.

As a marketer, ideally we’d prefer to have one technology solution that hosts all our omnichannel needs. But the reality is, brands leverage multiple technology products to achieve their goals, which comes as no surprise as there’s more than 7,000 solutions within our marketing technology landscape.

So how can you best decide what solution is the right choice for your company? Consider these key questions during your evaluation:

  • Does the technology align with my company’s omnichannel strategy?
  • Is the technology solution adaptable to our existing infrastructure and is it scalable?
  • What’s the schedule for updates/enhancements? (you want to make sure you’re adapting a modern technology)
  • What customer service is offered to support the technology offerings?
  • What are the short and long term costs and do they fit within our budget?
  • Does the purchase match the journey—are you crawling, walking or running? What can the business handle?
  • What is hype and what is real? (You don’t want the implementation to turn into a long drawn out process where the original value and vision is missed.)

Tip #3:

Develop a data strategy to enable you to truly get to know your customers

Create a data capture strategy that’s realistic, and fits in with your overall marketing goals. Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Integrate your online and offline data and incorporate the enabling technologies to fulfill your omnichannel strategy.
  • Collect and capture cross-channel data with data lakes and then perform identity mapping to understand who’s who (in a PII compliant manner, of course).
  • Understand how you can activate the data at scale to leverage for marketing purposes. And, never dismiss the combined power of first + third party data.

The proliferation of access to first-party data (thanks to multiple channels like website, email, mobile, social, etc.) allows marketers to better know today’s customer. When the data created from all of these touchpoints is augmented with third-party data assets, like TotalSource Plus, it enables a true, 360-degree customer view.

This third-party data includes things like consumers' interests (sports teams, preferred travel locations, etc.), and basic demographics that can then be segmented, profiled and analyzed with first-party data to enhance the customer view.

To enable the data you’d like capture, draw out and prioritize your customer journeys. And, plot the data that’s required for the different phases of the journey. This helps to identify systems that currently store information, and it reveals the gaps where data capture and activation are needed. Planning around the customer journey helps you stay focused and not lose sight of your omnichannel journey. 

Remember, omnichannel is a journey in which we’ve all embraced. We are all on the journey to successful omnichannel practices, but make sure to align to the pace of your omnichannel maturity – crawl, walk, run. Either way, your new omnichannel approach will improve your customer experience and shopping experience across all channels.

If you’re questioning as to whether or not it’s worth the investment, yes, it is. Omnichannel customers spend 4% more in-store and 10% more on online channels than single-channel customers. And, for every additional channel they use, customers spend more money. Customers expect that you know who they are and what they’re trying to do from the first to last touchpoint.