One of the most relevant marketing strategies that any retailer in 2023 can engage in is omnichannel marketing. This strategy involves the cross-functional use of various marketing channels, which help business owners to turn their one-time buyers into repeat or loyal customers. Omnichannel marketing combines often disparate marketing channels where potential customers can interact with a brand or business to create a cohesive brand experience. This includes physical channels – your own store – in combination with online channels such as social media platforms, websites, text campaigns, and other forms of digitized marketing content.
Many marketers and business owners have already been using an omnichannel marketing strategy, especially during the recent pandemic, to offer customers and potential customers a way to interact with their brand and business through offering alternate user experiences, including fulfilling online orders at the store or curbside, or through delivery services such as Door Dash.
According to a report by McKinsey & Company, since the pandemic began, three-quarters of US consumers have changed something about how they shop, including one-third who have tried a new shopping method such as delivery or store pickup and nearly one-third who have tried a different retailer. During the pandemic, digital adoption across sectors also increased dramatically. In 15 days, virtual appointments for services multiplied by 10. In five months, Disney+ built a subscription base that had taken Netflix seven years to achieve. Remote working, learning, and shopping likewise have surged. Reliance on digital was growing before the pandemic began, and a meaningful amount of this online penetration is expected to persist.
This underscores the importance of employing omnichannel marketing as we all move forward beyond the pandemic to a world where shopping, for many, has fundamentally and permanently changed. To address this, many retailers also added a fully online customer experience through their website or even Facebook stores to allow consumers to order from them and receive their purchases either for store pickup or by mail. Today, organizations across industries successfully leverage omnichannel strategies, including retail, finance, technology, and even healthcare.
Does this mean that brick-and-mortar stores will become obsolete? Not likely, and those retailers who have already established a relationship-based marketing strategy continue to prove that brand loyalty will continue as long as retailers continue to meet the changing needs of their customers. But it may also mean that retailers must expand their business model to accommodate the new and various ways consumers research and purchase. The key to successful omnichannel marketing is enabling your customers to engage with your brand on their terms. This leads to a more meaningful and memorable customer experience, which is the foundation of brand loyalty.
It has always been true that a potential customer interacts with many touch points along the buyer’s journey before deciding to purchase a product or service. This includes online research, making price and feature comparisons, and perhaps most important, reading reviews that provide the all-important word of mouth. This means it would be wise to reach a customer through various channels during each buying cycle stage. For example, digital advertising, websites, and social media are all ways to reach your potential buyers. Do you know all the ways your customers research their purchases before purchasing from your business? If not, use short polls on your website or social media (including the URL to your short survey on receipts) to gather the necessary information. Ask them what channels they visited or consulted before deciding to purchase. Inquire about what features or factors they juggled and whether friends recommended their purchase. Understanding their purchase decision process will inform your omnichannel marketing and allow you to create a model that responds directly to what your customers are already doing by taking advantage of their preferences and shopping habits. This method will create a seamless buying experience for the consumer and increase the probability that they will become a repeat customer.
If you are considering an omnichannel marketing strategy, consider quickly incorporating any of the following:
- Use text campaigns offered by your POS provider, such as Square, to give your customers another channel to purchase.
- Create an online store on your Facebook business page and highlight and rotate some of your most popular products. Some consumers who prefer online shopping will welcome this as an alternative to visiting your store.
- Use social media to feature a product of the week and offer a way to order the product before or instead of visiting the store.
- Use a newsletter service to regularly communicate with your customers about what is new, unique, different, or popular among your customer base.
- Feature store reviews in all communications with your customer base.
- Consider a meaningful customer loyalty program that would offer consumers a reason to choose your brand over another.
- Continue to offer delivery or curbside pickup to enhance ease of use with your store or brand.
While integrating all your marketing channels toward a more extensive customer experience, always offer a visit to your retail location as the ultimate brand experience. By reminding consumers that your online and social media product offerings are only a sliver of what your store offers, you will also create curiosity among many about what else you offer that they have yet to experience. Many consumers will, at some point, want to visit ‘the mothership,’ where they can experience the broader offering of your products and experiences.