Your online store is up and running.
You’ve got a blog, an email list, and social media accounts on the platforms where your ideal customers spend the most time. You’re marketing your store through lots of channels, but are you coordinating those efforts or missing opportunities?
Omnichannel marketing can help you connect all your marketing pathways for better results.
Here’s a primer on what omnichannel marketing is, how it can help you grow your business, and how to begin.
What Is Omnichannel Marketing?
Despite the “omni” in the name, omnichannel doesn’t (and shouldn’t) mean marketing in every channel in existence.
And it’s not the same thing as multichannel marketing, which is—you guessed it—marketing in multiple channels.
Instead, omnichannel marketing creates a single, holistic view of customer behavior by collecting and analyzing data across channels to create customized offers and consistent customer experiences in every channel where they encounter your business.
For businesses, the benefits are more and better data for more effective promotions, more conversions, and a greater likelihood of attracting the kinds of shoppers who make more purchases. SAS found that consumers who shop in more than one channel spend “three to four times more than single-channel customers do.”
Imagining Omnichannel Marketing
Here’s a simple way to think of the omnichannel approach to building customer relationships.
Let’s say the owner of your favorite restaurant knows your name, your favorite table, and your partner’s favorite dessert order. When you see her in your neighborhood, she always says hi and asks how you’re doing. That’s roughly analogous to an omnichannel customer experience—the restaurant owner always recognizes you and keeps up with how you’re doing and what you like, even when she’s not actively trying to sell you dinner. You’re probably going to dine at her place often and enjoy it.
But what if she only sometimes gave you a warm welcome at the restaurant and didn’t recognize you at other times, or made it weird at the grocery store by telling you about her restaurant like you’d never been there? How likely would you be to dine at her restaurant again?
That’s the kind of awkwardness and lost business that omnichannel marketing can help avoid. Think about how your marketing channels work together and where you can improve.
How Can You Make Your Marketing Omnichannel?
The first step is to gather all your data in one place, or as few places as possible, so you can get a good view of how people find your store and shop there.
Using the same payment service provider across all your sales channels—web, social media, in-store—can go a long way toward setting up your omnichannel marketing situation. That’s because payment providers (like Square) collect data you can use in your marketing efforts.
This omnichannel sales data can help you get started by providing the same types of data in the same format so you can easily track customers’ purchase behaviors in each channel. It can also streamline your loyalty program so customers can earn and use points online and in-store if you have brick-and-mortar or pop-up locations.
Once you’ve got your sales data centralized, check in on your web and social media analytics. Google Analytics is the best-known tool for website traffic analysis, and you can use it to analyze your email and social media data, too. To keep things simple, you can use a WordPress plugin like MonsterInsights to bring your Google Analytics data into your WP dashboard.
You can also use the Google Analytics tracking code for your site in your marketing emails. For example, Constant Contact walks its users through the process of adding the code, checking links for known issues, and gathering data from email campaigns to see who’s opening your emails, what they click, and what they buy.
Google Analytics can track your social media traffic, too. Neil Patel’s walkthrough of Google Analytics’ social media reports is filled with details you can apply to your omnichannel marketing program. Maybe the most important thing is that Google Analytics can report on conversions sorted by your goals. And it breaks down conversions into last-interaction and assisted categories, so you can see whether a particular visitor from social media to your site bought during that visit or later on.
With all of this traffic data and your sales data, you’ll have a better map of how all your channels work together (or don’t yet) to bring customers to your social media channels, your email list, and your store, and what those customers do along the way.
Then it’s time to start refining and testing your efforts so that the journey from potential customer to loyal customer is as easy as possible. For example, you can use your data to improve your customer segmentation for more highly targeted and specific email and social media campaigns.
You can also use this data to create more effective retargeting ads—another way to ensure that your customers and site visitors see the things that interest them and make them want to return to your store.
The Omnichannel Marketing Takeaway
Discussions about digital marketing and data analytics can get very detailed and technical. If you’re interested in going down that path, there’s a world of information online for you. If you’d rather keep things simple, here’s the takeaway:
- Omnichannel marketing uses data from all your channels to show you where your customers go and what they do so you can get to know them and keep up with them.
- Omnichannel marketing uses data from all your channels to make your customers feel recognized and welcome through personalized and targeted email, social media, and other campaigns.
- Omnichannel marketing tools that collect and analyze your data are inexpensive or free.
With good data and and a carefully thought-out omnichannel approach, you can give your customers what they want, earn their loyalty, and grow your business.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.