What Is Omnichannel Marketing? A Primer For Small Businesses

Jul 5, 2022

Omnichannel marketing represents a modern approach to telling your business’s story. Use this primer to learn how to take advantage.

Gary FroniewskiContent Writer
What Is Omnichannel Marketing? A Primer For Small Businesses

What we'll cover

If you’ve ever searched for a new product on your phone at lunch, conducted more research on your computer after the workday, then finally completed a purchase on your tablet before turning in for the night, you’re well aware of the importance of a good omnichannel marketing approach.

Customers expect a seamless experience between the various channels where they interact with a business, and if they don’t get it? They may fail to convert, or—even worse—they may go elsewhere.

As a business with a brand story to tell, it’s a no-brainer to take advantage of omnichannel marketing. But, you may be shocked to know that Gartner research shows 50% of businesses will have failed to unify their customer engagement channels by the end of 2022. 

Trust us: You do not want to be part of that 50%.

If you’re exploring omnichannel marketing for the first time—or maybe you don’t even know what all it entails—you’re in luck. This guide helps small business leaders with limited marketing expertise find out if it's time to invest resources into an omnichannel marketing strategy to grow their business—particularly those in the retail, consumer goods and services industry.

We’ll define what omnichannel marketing is, show how it differs from traditional multichannel marketing, and share some of the key benefits for you as a small business leader looking to map out a flawless customer journey.

What is omnichannel marketing?

Omnichannel marketing is the integration of multiple channels and consumer touchpoints to create a seamless branding and sales experience. These touchpoints can be both online and offline, ranging from websites, social media, and email marketing to in-store experiences and experiential marketing.

Omnichannel marketing can be characterized by a consistent brand voice across channels, personalized messaging, and intelligent content based on a person’s current stage in the customer journey.

Depending on where you are in your business’s growth, it may be time to adopt an omnichannel strategy, but it also may be too early. It’s important to have a critical mass of active channels—social media accounts, email marketing, a website, or even a brick and mortar location—before considering using resources to pursue omnichannel marketing. 

Another key element is developing a cohesive brand voice that you’re keen on conveying across those channels. If you haven’t created this type of overall brand identity yet or you’re still building your stable of active channels, consider accomplishing those two steps before adopting an omnichannel approach.

The difference between omnichannel and multichannel

Omnichannel focuses on creating a consistent customer experience spanning all the channels where a business can be found, including in-store. An omnichannel marketing approach is centered completely around the customer, using personalized messaging and oftentimes technology to anticipate a customer’s needs at any given point in the buying process.

One example is the experience of starting a purchase on one device then completing it on another. If a customer adds an item to their cart on their desktop and attempts to finish the purchase on their phone, ideally the item is still in their cart on the second device. To take it a step further, if the purchase process is abandoned, that customer would receive an email alerting them of the missed opportunity.

This approach creates an enjoyable and appropriately personalized experience that elicits satisfaction from your target audience instead of the frustration that often comes from more disjointed marketing processes.

Multichannel also spans multiple marketing channels, oftentimes all the ones a business finds itself participating in, but the key difference is that these channels are not intelligently combined to form a single brand story and consistent experience. 

As we alluded to above, consumers may begin a purchase on one device then move to another only to find their item isn’t saved. Or, they may find information online only to visit a physical location and be told something different. Needless to say, this incongruity across channels can leave customers feeling confused and frustrated.

Key benefits of omnichannel marketing

The benefits of an omnichannel marketing approach don’t end there. Below are some key points that will serve to improve your business from a variety of angles, including your bottom line.

Better user experience

Having a strong omnichannel strategy allows a potential customer to feel as if everything is connected no matter where they encounter your brand. This type of consistency not only creates more trust in your brand, but it’s also more effective. 

If people are able to find the information they need no matter where they look or complete a purchase even if they’re on a separate device, they’ll be more likely to complete purchases and ultimately become repeat customers who know you have their best interest at heart.

How to take advantage

Audit the channels you’re active on with the goal of ensuring all information is accurate. This is a great place to start since it does the double duty of setting yourself up for future success with your omnichannel efforts and also cleaning up potentially inaccurate information in the short term.

Cohesive brand story

Another benefit of omnichannel marketing is the ability to more easily tell a cohesive brand story. If your messaging, style, and tone are consistent across all the channels your business can be found, you don’t have to worry as much about potential misfires that could affect customer loyalty.

If your business is not yet at the point where a cohesive brand story exists, this is an excellent time to visit that subject within your organization. Starting with your business’s mission statement and values, develop a tone and voice for your brand that can be easily mimicked in a variety of places. 

For instance, when people read your messaging, is it friendly and bright? Is it professional and authoritative? Do you use words that convey expertise or ones that appeal to customers’ emotions? Is the look of your website comprehensive and traditional or minimalist and modern? Determining stylistic choices like this ahead of time will allow your brand’s story to be more easily conveyed across different mediums.

How to take advantage

Revisit your messaging across platforms to make sure it’s in line with your brand’s mission and story. Similar to the step of auditing factual information, this is your chance to ensure the messaging you’re putting out there represents who you are as a brand and how you want to convey yourself to potential customers.

Improved understanding of the customer journey

A good omnichannel marketing strategy goes beyond a seamless customer experience. It also increases your learnings about that experience as well. You’ll be able to track customer interactions across all channels which means you can be more strategic about where and how you engage with them. 

For instance, if a person abandons an item in their shopping cart but you know they have a tendency to open your promotional emails, you have the opportunity to send them a message on a channel they already interact with to let them know of the missed purchase opportunity.

How to take advantage

Take stock of your current analytics structure and any software you might use to keep track of customer data. Your CRM platform may offer integration features that allow you to easily track data between other tools.

Increased revenue due to ease of purchasing on any device

If you make the purchase process easier on consumers, it stands to reason that you’ll get more purchases. Per the previous example, have you ever added an item to a shopping cart on one device, left to do something else, then received an email reminding you about the abandoned product? 

That’s a good example of an omnichannel experience and one that’s hard to ignore as someone who’s already thinking about making the purchase. Personalized touch points on multiple channels also serve to increase trust and eventually brand loyalty as customers feel you’re speaking directly to them and addressing their wants and needs.

How to take advantage

Explore ways to make it easier on your customers to complete purchases. Whether it’s through CRM integration or streamlining the sales pipeline, you have a huge opportunity to both reach your target audience on their preferred channels and speak to them in a personalized way.

Embrace omnichannel marketing by assessing your business's growth

Establishing a solid omnichannel strategy can only contribute to your success in the long run, so start today with an approach that fits the stage of your business’s growth. Whether you’re already in a place to fully embrace omnichannel or still working to get there, there are steps you can take now to make progress.

If you already have a strong brand voice and operate on several channels, unify that presence in the ways we’ve described above to create a cohesive experience for your customers. If you’re still searching for balance in your tone and messaging, collaborate organizationally to find that voice before moving on. 

By listening to your customers, meeting them where they are, and delivering personalized messaging across multiple channels, you stand a better chance of winning (and keeping) people as loyal customers. Craft your user experience to tell the story you want to tell, and shout it from the hilltops.

Tips to engage your customers as you grow your business

Creating a stellar customer experience doesn’t stop at being available on all channels. There are numerous other ways for you to connect with your customers on a meaningful level to give them an experience that will make them want to come back again and again.

Here are some resources to help get you started:

About the author

Gary Froniewski

Content Writer
Gary Froniewski is a Content Writer at GetApp covering all things digital marketing, with a focus on emerging trends in experiential marketing. A recipient of multiple AMD Spotlight Awards for flagship product launch campaigns, he has a wealth of experience creating compelling copy to support Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike. In his spare time he loves to enjoy food experiences, play tennis and disc golf, and explore nature in his home base of Austin, TX.
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