Omnichannel Marketing
When Multichannel Isn't Enough

omnichannel marketing
Photo Credits: Troy Thompson on Flickr

Okay, so maybe a year or two ago, I started to hear a term associated with marketing that I hadn't heard before...Omnichannel marketing.

Was this a fancy new way of referring to the already familiar "multichannel marketing"? Maybe floated by an up-and-coming marketing agency hellbent on grabbing market share in the digital marketing arena?

I didn't know.

I'm very familiar with multichannel marketing, having guided clients through multichannel marketing campaigns infused with the multi-pillar ethos of our HMA (Hidden Marketing Assets) system.

So my assumption was that omnichannel probably represented concepts in retailing and marketing that were largely covered under the multichannel umbrella.

However, I wasn't sure. And one of the ways I try to counter the "curse of partial knowledge" is to do some research whenever I come across new concepts and not just assume I already know what it's all about.

Time to investigate.

I pulled some online research sources and  satisfied myself that I had a fairly good understanding of the concept and how authoritative market research sources and thought leaders were applying it.

Recently, because I used it in a blog article I was about to publish, I decided to go back to update my knowledge of the concept, and add new dimensions to my understanding.

Here are just a few of the excellent resources I came across:

  • "Omnichannel Retailing" on Wikipedia - transition from merely having a presence on various channels to designing a seamless, customer-focused experience  across channels in lockstep with the emerging habits of today's customer who is sometimes simultaneously on as much as 3 screens and interacting dynamically with many different marketing channels over the course of a single day.
  • Keep the Digital Marketing Basics in Mind - A reminder - along the lines of my usual "continuities and change" admonition - that the smart adaptive business anchors to some slower changing fundamentals during periods of rapid change and transition, and the transition to "omni channel" is no different.
  • To the CMO: Your Next Marketing Channel - For the CMO, challenges in execution include much greater collaboration between marketing & IT, each platform (website, facebook, email) being required to have communication with each other, and seizing the advantage given that the opportunity still exists to seize leadership in this area.
  • Omnichannel Customer/Shopper: Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere - This article in Retail Online Integration first unveiled the powerful benefits of catering to the omnichannel customer.
  • What is Omnichannel Marketing - In digital, this translates to a seamless experience across PPC, SEO, Online Display ads, and Social. An entertaining and enlightening video for anyone.
  • Omnichannel at Digital Net Agency - Digital Net Agency claims to be "the leader" in omnichannel marketing. I have no way to know whether this is true by some 3rd party consensus or not. However, there's a great little graphic of channels with the implication being that they can weave all those into a seamless omnichannel customer experience.
  • Multichannel retailing - "The merging of retail operations in such a manner that enables the transacting of a customer via many connected channels. Channels include: retail stores, online stores, mobile stores, mobile app stores, telephone sales and any other method of transacting with a customer. Transacting includes browsing, buying, returning as well as pre and post sale service."
  • Big Data, Omnichannel and Web Development - A useful look at the intersection with IT. From the importance of big data, to the usefulness of open source: "Big data is the linchpin around which omni channel marketing is built. Without fast bi-directional data transfer and storage and the platforms to support them for each channel the concept would have no legs. One of the reasons we use Drupal is because as a data agnostic platform there are many different data connectors and other methods of connecting to disparate data stores".
  • Tactical Omnichannel challenges - In this article, CMOs and other marketing heads get an overview of challenges that organizations adopting omnichannel have to consider.
  • Weaving Omnichannel solutions- Notes on achieving the golden fleece of omnichannel. A great quote, "Don't be confused between Multichannel and Omnichannel. Multichannel means you have a presence in many different channels. Omnichannel means they all work in tandem, with the customer at the center of it all.

Yes Virginia! Omnichannel Marketing
Really IS A Thing...Not Just An Empty Buzzword!

In summary, if you're asking, "Is this new label really necessary?" I think the answer is yes. It is an evolution beyond multichannel marketing.

Omnichannel marketing represents a distinct new set of requirements, capabilities (in supply chain strategy & software, marketing processes and software), and priorities (marketing channel constraints subordinated to brand experience and brand experience, which is in turn subordinated to customer presence points).

With the upward trend in mobile technology adoption and the general proliferation of place enabled fueled by such technologies, omnichannel marketing has become a crucial area for most B2C brands to begin building a competency in.

It is particularly important for retailers and retail marketers. Take this factoid from research conducted in 2010:

"While the multichannel shopper will spend, on average, 15 percent to 30 percent more than someone using just one channel, omnichannel shoppers outspend multichannel shoppers by over 20 percent"

Or this:

"...Store sales influenced by online customer research are up to four times higher than total e-commerce sales"

Need I say more?

Omnichannel Loyalty: Maximizing Your Customers Experience on Vimeo.

Other Links:
1. How Can Retail Become Truly Omnichannel
2. The Agency Perspective: A shift is coming

social pr consultantGogo Erekosima is Founder & Lead Strategist at Idea Age Consulting, a Small Business Marketing Consultancy where he provides Hidden Marketing Assets Consulting to ambitious solo, small, and midsized businesses.

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