Omni-channel marketing is a highly effective strategy that many corporations such as Disney, Starbucks, Chipotle, and Orvis have implemented. Though a staple of B2C marketing, many companies have adopted the methodology to B2B tactics, but it can be applied to most any situation.
The trend of consumerizing B2B marketing will see rise to even more strategic implementation of omni-channel marketing principles in the near future. One of the biggest benefits of omni-channel marketing is that it excels at building brands. Regardless of what type of business you are and what type of customers you serve, branding is important.
Comparing Multichannel and Omni-channel Marketing
Omni-channel marketing is an evolution of multichannel marketing in that it uses a variety of different channels, including some or all of the following:
- Live or digital events
- Direct mail
- SMS/mobile marketing
- PPC/paid advertising
- Social media
The core difference between multichannel and omni-channel is that the former is sender-focused and the latter is receiver-focused. In other words, multichannel starts with the message or offer, whereas omni-channel starts with the customer or client.
Most people are bombarded by ads and promotions every day, so in order for marketing efforts to be effective, they need to be relevant, personal and consistent. Taking a customer-focused approach does just that. It forces the marketer to really discover who their customer is, what they value, and how to “speak” to them.
These days, customers don’t want relevant, personal, and consistent messaging – they expect it.Everything else is just spam – the last thing you want your brand to be associated with.
Omni-channel in Action
Omni-channel marketing seeks to create a seamless experience at all stages of the buying cycle. Beginning with digital assets, let’s walk through the basics.
It all starts with a great website. It doesn’t matter if your business sells SaaS to B2B clients or pizzas to college kids, most consumers will first turn to the web for information, promotions, reviews, directions, and more. Your website needs to provide all of these.
Over half of browsing occurs on mobile devices, so having a mobile responsive website is a must. Nothing will chase away your hard-earned web traffic faster than a site that takes forever to load or doesn’t display properly on a mobile device. Loading times and mobile optimization are two huge ranking factors for SEO for this very reason.
Many companies use mobile apps to seamlessly bridge the gap between the real world and the digital. For example, you can order a burrito on the Chipotle app on your mobile phone while on the go. The app allows the user to save their favorite combinations so it makes reordering a breeze.
Imagine how much easier this app would make taking orders around the office. No more illegible handwriting that some poor fool will have to decipher in the long line at the restaurant.
Brick and mortar retailers have been losing more and more ground to ecommerce the last couple of years. The reality is that consumer shopping behavior has changed. Many consumers shop in store and then buy online; others do the opposite.
If your retail store doesn’t have a way for customers to buy online you are losing revenue. Woocommerce and Shopify both offer inexpensive and flexible ecommerce tools that make it easy to add an online store.
Applying Omnimarketing Principles to Small and mid-market Businesses
Let’s not beat around the bush here — most small or mid market businesses don’t have the budget to develop a custom app, but a web app might is a far more cost-effective solution. Web apps can simplify a lot of the routine tasks that will not only make life easier for you, but for the customer.
These are great for calculating quotes, customizing orders, booking reservations, or setting appointments. They get your customers in the habit of using your website which is great for branding, and branding = business development.
Because omni-channel marketing is such an abstract concept, the best way to think about applying it to your business is by starting the process at where it ends – the customer.
- Personalization – By getting to know him/her, you begin to understand how they define value. Using the Chipotle example from before, the powers that be must have realized that they needed a streamlined process for such a robust menu. They wanted to make it easy for their customers to share a lunch by simplifying the purchasing process. The customer finds value in this, and it even streamlines the store-level processes for their employees.
- Relevance – Studies have shown that the contemporary buyer appreciates relevant marketing messages. Any information or offers that you can send prospective buyers about the products or services that interest them is something of high value. This is achieved in a number of ways, including segmenting email lists, setting the right demographic parameters for PPC ads, and crafting the right type of video or text content. This can only achieved by first understanding who your buyers are, which is why it is number 2 on the list.
- Consistency – We live in a chaotic world, so brands that are reliable, dependable, and consistent are heralded by customers. “Brands” don’t have to be conglomerates. Small business branding and/or personal branding are arguably more important. Components of your brand that should be consistent include, but are not limited to, color schemes, design, language/tone, values, and of course quality.
Hypothetical Application – Restaurant
To better illustrate how this marketing system can be applied to most any situation, here are some hypothetical examples that are loosely based off real-world examples.
The Pasta House is a family owned Italian restaurant that serves a mid-sized suburban population. In order to thrive in a competitive market, the owners decide to implement an omni-channel marketing system to help drive repeat business, beef up their lunch service, and to better coordinate their dinner reservations.
Identifying the Customer
After analyzing their traffic, several customer profiles emerged. For starters, the suburb the restaurant serves has a predominantly blue-collar workforce that has a strict timeline for their lunch hour.
Their customers like a hearty lunch, but don’t have time to dine in. Typically, a lunch order is placed and is picked up.
Additionally, the menu is served family style, so the bread and butter dinner crowd is comprised of families and large groups.
Developing the Strategy
The first order of business was to fix the challenges faced with the lunch crowd.
The preexisting system involved the orders being phoned in, but the order readiness time was inconsistent and too many times the customer had to wait for their order to finish when they would come to pick it up. Considering the majority of the lunch crowd was people with a limited lunchtime, this was a major problem.
The second order of business was to tackle the challenges arising from dinner service. The owners had a website that was extremely simple. It contained the restaurant contact info, hours, a few blurry pictures, and a menu, but that was about it.
All reservations were handled through a third-party service that cost over $1000 to initially set up, then a recurring monthly charge of about $200. Premium listings including reviews and recommendations were available, but out of the price range for the owners.
The dinner menu requires a lot of prep, so in order to control food costs, accurately forecasting sales is a priority. Considering the clientele often came in groups, it became evident that finding a way to manage reservations was just as important as driving business.
It became clear that an integrated solution for reservations and lunch orders would be a way to fix both issues.
Developing a custom app was an option, at a substantial investment of capital, but the ROI was predicted to be poor based on a low forecasted adoption rate.
The most attractive solution was a new website. This way the customer could book a reservation, place a lunch order, explore the revamped menu, and even view specials – all in one place.
In order to market to new and existing customers, a comprehensive social media marketing strategy using Facebook and Instagram was planned. Facebook makes it easy to market to your website visitors by adding a “pixel” into the code. This creates a cyclical relationship between Facebook and your website: traffic funnels from one to another.
Facebook also offers robust targeting tools for ads. Any number of demographic parameters can be set, including age, gender, interests, and much more. The clientele often celebrates special occasions at the restaurant, so the owners decide to target “life events” through the Facebook ads manager.
For this particular ad, they set up to display PPC ads for people celebrating anniversaries, new jobs, birthdays, and births. To make it even more precise, it will only display for people that are interested in Italian cuisine. Even with all these parameters set for specific values, the potential reach of the ads is 1,700,000 people, all located within 25 miles of the restaurant.
For the ad, they put together a short 30-45 second video of other families celebrating an event at their restaurant, packaged along with some sort of offer, such as free dessert. The ad links to their new website where the customer can view the menu and book a reservation.
The reservation form asks for a phone number and email address, so over time the business will grow a sizable list of emails and phone numbers. Using an email marketing platform will allow them to automatically send a confirmation email with a link to a survey.
The survey will gather information such as birthdays, anniversaries, and other events that will enable personalized emails and SMS mobile marketing offers and messages to be sent. These need not always be sales and promotions, but could even be something along the lines of “Hey! It’s been a while and we miss you. Come check out our new (meal option) that will be the special this weekend.” Now that is personalized marketing.
This will serve to create champions of their brand, further developing their customer base. Furthermore, sending out promotional SMS messages seems like an appropriate disciplinary action for an employee caught on their phone during a shift…
As illustrated in the example above, an omni-channel marketing system is one that takes advantage of the synergistic relationship between technology and the various communication channels that are available to reach potential and existing customers.
The most important step to create this sort of strategy that is applicable to any business is taking an inside-out approach. Start with the customer, and through viewing your business through their eyes, you will see things from a fresh perspective.
From there it’s a matter of finding the most efficient and cost effective way to kick start the system, and developing assets and tools that send consistent brand messages that ultimately create a seamless experience for your customer, blending the real world and the digital.
Curious about how this would work for your business? Contact us today for an informal chat. We’ll discuss how a omni-channel marketing system could be created for you. There is zero risk, and regardless if you decide to do business with us, you’ll walk away with some ideas about how you can use some of the tools and techniques of the major corporations without a 6 or 7 figure marketing budget.
Fill out the contact form today and let’s grab coffee.