What is Omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel is a term coined by Retailers, that basically means Customer Centric Marketing.
Pre pandemic, Retailers moved from having Channel led strategies (i.e. shops and a website competing with each other for business), to an understanding that customers who shopped with them across multiple channels are more engaged and have a significantly higher lifetime value. Omnichannel marketing (or Unified selling) transitioned into being about complimentary marketing activity, with all channels supporting all channels.
If you market to customers in person and online, or via social media, then the Omnichannel approach is relevant to your business.
Hubspot define the Omnichannel Experience as :
“The Omnichannel experience is marketing, selling and serving customers on all channels to create an integrated and cohesive customer experience, no matter how or where a customer reaches out. The experience should the same for customers regardless of the platform or method they choose to use”
Whilst we agree with the principle that the customer experience should be cohesive regardless of channel, our own personal experiences in Omnichannel say that there is nuance. Different channels serve different points of the Buyer Journey, or can offer unique efficiencies or services, so don’t be tempted to create a one size fits all approach – obscure the differences between channels rather than removing them.
Why does Omnichannel marketing matter for B2B?
The disruptions caused by Brexit, Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine have taught us how easily both demand curves and supply chains can become upset.
Forrester’s 2019 B2B buying study says that B2B ecommerce had increased from 14% to 18% of sales between 2015 and 2019, and that purchases through direct sales teams had dropped from 46% to 42%. This data was gathered pre-pandemic, but the trend is clear. Post pandemic, people are doing more research online before contacting you, and are much more comfortable self-serving online for B2B purchases.
Do Buyers want a channel-less experience?
Today’s Buyers want to be in control of their engagement with you. The younger they are, the more likely they are to want to self serve – Millennials now make 54% of their B2B purchases through websites.
We are also seeing an ever increasing proportion of B2B purchases being made on a mobile device, so it’s important to check your site’s mobile responsiveness as part of your audit programme.
It’s always worth remembering that most B2B Buyers aren’t procurement professionals – they are business people buying things to make their and their team’s day jobs run more smoothly.
So, this doesn’t mean it’s the end of human interaction, it simply means that your in-person customer touchpoints need to be knowledgeable, consistent and add value for the customer. As we say at WSI – Embrace Digital. Stay Human.
5-point guide to Omnichannel Marketing
1. Brand Identity – If your brand identity isn’t the same across all channels, customers will become confused and lose trust
2. Know your customers – Customer obsession is at the heart of successful omnichannel marketing. Create your target personas, monitor your data and talk to your customers regularly to check that you are in tune with what matters to them
3. Solve a problem or help create a dream – Tell the story about how you help your customers achieve what they are looking to by using you. Use Inbound Marketing techniques to create platform appropriate calls to action and move customers through your sales funnel cross platform
4. Be consistent – A consistent marketing message cross-platform is more powerful than trying to divide and conquer. Create a multi-channel content plan to make sure that all parts of your business are on message for any given point in time. Don’t just copy and paste though – adapt your message based on the platform and sales funnel stage that platform supports
5. Think end to end – Consider the whole Buyer Journey – not just top and mid funnel. Use alerts to pre-empt problems so that your customer service team can shepherd orders through seamlessly for your clients.
I’ve referred a couple of times in this blog to a recent Forrester report on making omnichannel real in B2B Commerce. If you’d like to read it for yourself, here’s the link.
MarinOne have also recently produced an omnichannel playbook – download it here.
The more that technology becomes integrated in day to day life, the more the lines between online and real life blur. Businesses need to react to this consumer behaviour change – stop thinking about an online experience versus an in person one – think holistically to give your customers an omnichannel experience, giving them the choice as to how they interact with you.
If this blog has resonated with you, we’d be happy to have a chat about how we might be able to help you up your Omnichannel Marketing game.