A recent report from McKinsey reveals that a modern B2B buyer interacts with a brand through at least 10 channels as they move through the sales process. This includes a mixture of traditional sales and digital channels. And they want this experience to be streamlined and personalized every step of the way. To accommodate this expectation, B2B businesses must move to an omnichannel strategy.
In this article, we explain how marketing has evolved into an omnichannel experience and what it will take for your business to make the transition.
What is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel marketing integrates all channels to create a consistent and personalized experience across traditional channels (i.e., billboards, broadcast ads, brick and mortar stores, printed sales collateral, etc.) and digital channels (i.e., website, social media, digital ads, apps, etc.). An omnichannel approach doesn’t mean that your brand is present on all the channels. What it does means is that your brand has integrated all the channels it does use for a seamless experience online and offline.
Omnichannel vs. channel, multichannel and digital-first marketing
While there is some overlap, omnichannel isn’t the same as channel marketing, multichannel marketing or a digital-first approach.
Channel marketing typically focuses on specific offline channels (such as retailers or distributors) to reach customers. As sales models have evolved, channel marketing has expanded to include online channels (such as social media, mobile apps, and email) to increase the chances of reaching customers. This is called a multichannel approach.
With multichannel marketing, the channels are often siloed, and the experience isn’t consistent across all touchpoints. Omnichannel is a newer approach that integrates systems to provide a consistent and personalized experience.
A digital-first approach is like an omnichannel marketing in that they are both newer strategies, and they are both integrated, with the aim to provide a seamless experience that is tailored to the customer. However, digital-first marketing prioritizes digital channels over traditional ones, whereas an omnichannel approach includes offline and online channels.
With omnichannel marketing, a business might leverage customer data to gain a comprehensive view of a customer’s interactions and preferences. The data can then be used to deliver a consistent and personalized message across traditional and online channels. The business might use chatbots, in-person events, direct mail, social media, email and in-app messaging to reinforce the messaging and create a cohesive experience across all touchpoints.
Research shows that an omnichannel approach offers the following advantages:
- Increased customer satisfaction. 89% of B2B customers expect businesses to offer a personalized experience across all channels (Accenture).
- Improved customer retention. Businesses with strong omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain 89% of their customers, while those with weak omnichannel strategies only retained 33% (Aberdeen Group).
- Improved selling process. 94% of B2B decision makers find an omnichannel sales model more effective than previous sales models (McKinsey).
Prerequisites for successful omnichannel marketing
Implementing an effective omnichannel strategy requires the following factors are in place:
- A strong digital presence. Digital channels, such as email, social media and websites, are a key component of omnichannel marketing. A strong digital presence can help you leverage these channels effectively to deliver personalized and relevant messaging to your customers.
- A robust customer database. Customer data will be a single, trusted source of truth that drives a seamless omnichannel experience. For this reason, it’s crucial that you have a single, robust and comprehensive database to capture data across all customer touchpoints. When customer data comes from several different sources, it results in incomplete, inaccurate and duplicate data.
- A clear and comprehensive understanding of your target audience. Effective omnichannel marketing requires that your business has a client-centric mindset. This means having a deep understanding of the unique needs, preferences, and behaviors of your audience, which enables your business to develop content that resonates with them on an individual level. Customer centricity also ensures your business is already equipped with buyer personas, a customer journey map and brand messaging.
- A holistic and collaborative mindset. Transitioning to omnichannel marketing requires businesses to have cross-functional collaboration between sales and marketing teams to define what goals and objectives your efforts will meet. Collaboration will ensure the development of the right infrastructure. Additionally, to enable a truly seamless customer experience, business must have a holistic approach to support your omnichannel efforts from lead generation through customer service. What this looks like for your company depends on its business model and target audience.
- Agility. Your business must be nimble and flexible to adapt to changing customer needs and market conditions so you can quickly adjust digital channels, messaging and campaigns to deliver the best possible customer experiences.
- A proactive plan to manage channel conflict. Moving to an omnichannel model can impact distributors and traditional sales. To mitigate the risk of channel conflict, your company must fully understand the customer decision journey, the effect of moving products from one channel to another and how partners, sales and clients might respond to your new channel strategy. This will enable you to determine which products to move to specific channels for target customer segments.
Steps for implementing omnichannel marketing
Once you have the right processes, plans and mindset in place, you are ready to transition from a multichannel marketing model to an omnichannel model.
Step 1: Create personalized content and messaging
Use your buyer personas, buyer journey map and brand messaging as a starting point to develop hyper-targeted messaging. For this step, you will:
- Segment your audience based on behaviors and preferences, such as purchase history, engagement with your brand and demographics.
- Tailor messaging to each segment of your audience. Use data (customer behavior, email open rates, and other metrics) to understand what resonates with your audience and inform your message
- Optimize your message over time. While this step will come later, be sure to continuously test and improve your messaging. This may involve A/B testing or experimenting with different channels to see which are most effective for different segments of your audience.
Step 2: Identify the right channels
Determine which channels are most relevant to your target audience and where customers are most likely to interact with your brand. Consider both traditional and digital channels, including your website, email, social media, direct mail and events. Here are some ways you can identify the right channels:
- Customer research. Surveys, interviews and focus groups may help you understand which channels your audience prefers and how they use them.
- Customer data. Use customer data from your existing digital channels to identify patterns in customer interactions with your brand across different touchpoints.
- Look at industry trends. Staying up to date on industry trends will help you to identify emerging channels such as new social platforms and messaging apps that may be relevant to your audience.
- Evaluate your budget. Determine which channels to prioritize based on your available resources.
Step 3: Implement the right technology infrastructure
The quality of your sales marketing technology or martech stack, which includes your CMR and marketing technologies, has a significant impact on the success of your omnichannel marketing efforts. Here are some ways to determine the right martech stack:
- Define your goals and requirements. Consider what channels you want to use, what data you need to collect, and what features you need to deliver a personalized experience.
- Assess your current technology. Identify any gaps or redundancies that need to be addressed. Consider whether your current systems can be integrated with new solutions or if you need to replace them.
- Research martech solutions. Look for omnichannel technologies that are designed to integrate with your existing systems, provide the functionality you need and offer scalability.
- Consider your budget: Look for solutions that fit within your budget while still delivering the features and functionality you need.
- Evaluate vendors: Consider a vendor’s omnichannel experience, reputation, customer support and ability to provide ongoing maintenance and support.
- Test and train. Before implementing any martech solution, test it to ensure it meets your requirements and integrates with your existing systems. After implementing a solution, ensure your teams are trained to use it effectively.
Step 4: Create a seamless experience
A seamless customer experience is consistent and cohesive across all touchpoints, whether they are digital or traditional channels. Here are some ways to do just that:
- Adhere to your branding. Ensure your brand message, tone and visual identity are consistent across all channels.
- Streamline the journey. Remove friction points and barriers to ensure that customers can move between channels without losing their place in the buying process.
- Monitor and optimize. Track customer feedback and use analytics to identify areas for improvement.
Step 5: Measure and optimize your efforts
Successful omnichannel marketing requires a commitment to ongoing improvement. Here’s how to get the maximum impact from your efforts:
- Define your key performance indicators (KPIs)that will measure your success.
- Implement tracking and analytics across all channels to capture data.
- Analyze data to identify trends and patterns.
- A/B test and experiment with messaging and channels.
- Continuously optimize, monitor and adjust your messaging, your channels and your strategy.
Work with digital marketing experts
To deliver a personalized omnichannel experience that is consistent across traditional and digital channels, a business must use an integrated, data-driven and customer-centric strategy. If you’re ready to get started, partner with an agency that has proven omnichannel experience. Contact us to learn how Elevation Marketing can help.