Omnichannel Marketing in 2022: Best Practices and Examples

March 3, 2022
by
Rhys Williams

Omnichannel Marketing in 2022: Best Practices and Examples

March 3, 2022
by
Rhys Williams
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We all know that brands should be marketing and selling on multiple channels, but how can you get it right? How can you make sure you’re maximizing returns on your time and effort as you scale operations? 

Here, we’ll take a deep dive into omnichannel marketing, showing how, when done correctly, it can transform your relationship with customers and help elevate your brand. 

What is omnichannel marketing?

Put simply: omnichannel marketing means continuity of marketing across channels. These channels can be your online store or mobile app, but can also include email and messaging services, wearable devices, and your physical store. 

Omnichannel marketing is all about making the transition between channels seamless. 

In theory this means your customers can start a journey with your brand by browsing your social media feeds before clicking through to your website, and finally picking up an item from your physical store, all without having to make adjustments or experiencing friction or confusion when switching between channels.

Think about how you might encounter a brand on Facebook, interact with their social posts a few times on Instagram, finally browse the store online, purchase online, then collect a seamless pickup via in-store Kiosk, receiving your receipt via email after paying with Apple Watch and getting a rewards notice on your phone. If it all feels seamless as a customer (and not too much!), this was great omnichannel marketing at play.

When thinking about omnichannel marketing, it’s important to keep in mind that there is no firewall between your traditional marketing efforts (email campaigns, in-store displays, advertising, discounts, Facebook ads, etc) and your efforts to create a smooth and seamless experience for your customers. 

With omnichannel, great customer service and creative marketing blend into each other from online to physical retail. 

What is omnichannel marketing vs multichannel marketing?

There is an important distinction between omnichannel and multichannel marketing: whereas multichannel is about engaging with customers across several channels (often kept separate), omnichannel is about integrating the customer experience from channel to channel. 

So a brand may be marketing using email, social media, and in-store methods (multichannel), but not giving much thought to how their customers behave while on Facebook or checking their emails, and how this behavior dovetails into their purchasing habits (omnichannel). 

Omnichannel is about analyzing overall customer engagement, and identifying and removing the pain points within this engagement.

The difference in emphasis between omnichannel and multichannel can be summarized as:

Omnichannel = customer focussed

Multichannel = channel focussed

The customer-first, more integrated approach means that omnichannel is often considered a superior strategy, and in many ways it is. It should be noted, however, that multichannel is still useful for some brands. 

Multichannel markets across several channels while seeking to maximize engagement and ROI on a channel by channel basis.

With multichannel, there are many touch points as well, but they’re often kept separate. If your brand’s customer base is primarily reachable on one channel (email, for example) then it can be a better strategy for you to focus your marketing resources on the channel that’s most likely to give you the highest ROI.

What’s an omnichannel marketing example?

To illustrate what we’re talking about, let’s take a look at a brand that’s perfected their omnichannel marketing strategy. 

Cosmetics and beauty brand Sephora has crafted a unique omnichannel experience for their customers by fully integrating their online and offline worlds. 

Sephora omnichannel marketing
Credit: Sephora


Sephora began initially with brick and mortar stores before investing heavily in ecommerce, and they’ve even got a native app. Investment online certainly paid off when the pandemic hit and they were able to switch to online-only relatively smoothly when this became essential. 

Now, with physical stores back open, Sephora fills locations with technology to combine the in-store experience with their online presence: 

  • Scanners, QR codes, and online search tools are available in-store to help customers find what they're looking for more easily from their wide product range
  • They use virtual reality to show customers what beauty products will look like when applied
  • Products browsed/tested in-store are logged and email and instant messaging reminders are sent encouraging shoppers to complete purchases
  • Visitors to sephora.com are shown the nearest store location
  • You can chat with a beauty advisor online just as you can speak to an associate in-store about products of interest. In-store, purchases count toward your rewards account, which can also be seamlessly checked online. 
Sephora product page
Credit: Sephora


This blending of online and offline ultimately makes life easier for the customer, making it even more convenient to purchase.

The benefits of seamless omnichannel marketing

Creating a smooth and consistent experience for your customers has many benefits. As we’ve seen with Sephora’s example, done properly it:

  • Makes it easier for customers to purchase - Removing friction and smoothing the buyer journey increases the likelihood of sales. In fact, a comprehensive study by Harvard Business Review found that omnichannel customers spent an average of 4% more online than other customers.
  • Generates higher spend in store - It’s not just that omnichannel customers are buying more products online, they spend more in store too! The same study above found omnichannel customers spend 9% more when they visit in person. Getting omnichannel right for your brand increases your bottom line.
  • Increases brand loyalty - If you have a consistent marketing message and transition points between channels that make shopping more smooth and convenient, your customers reward you with their loyalty. Research showed customers made 23% more repeat visits after an omnichannel experience. 
  • Boosts your personalization strategy - Connecting with customers on multiple channels means you’re going to have to get to know them well to offer up relevant value. If you’re speaking to customers in a familiar space, about a highly relevant product offer, then the chances are your marketing is getting personalization right. With more touch points often comes more data, and more chances to surprise and delight customers along their journey.

#cta-visual-fe#<cta-title>Ensure your online experience is perfect<cta-title>Learn how Shogun Frontend can help you achieve the exact ecommerce experience you envision. Learn more

The customer is always right. But who is the customer, exactly?

As omnichannel customers spend more, and purchase more often(!), it's crucial to develop a thorough understanding of who they are and what makes them tick. You need to be able to:

Analyze customer data

The bedrock of any omnichannel marketing campaign is a comprehensively researched appreciation for how your customers engage with your brand. Having a firm grasp of who your customers are, what they want, and when they want it will allow you to produce contextually relevant messaging that arrives at just the point when it will be of most value.

Identify what channels they’re using and how they’re using them

When you start to dig down into customer data and piece together the jigsaw puzzle of customer interaction by looking at email and social media ad click-throughs, you’ll begin to see patterns in what channels your customers are using, and when and how they’re using them. This can help you double down on investments in channels they actually use vs. the ones they don’t. 

Identify their needs

Mapping your customer journeys out is the first step to understanding shopper pain points and how you can smooth them. If you know enough about how customers move from site to store to social media, you’ll be able to identify exactly where there might be friction to sales. Mastering this is an art and a science. You’ll need to combine rigorous data analytics and creative solutions to your customer’s problems to unblock omnichannel journeys. 

Segment customers

Customers are not one homogenous block. Once you’ve gathered enough data to build up a comprehensive picture of who your customers are, you’ll be able to divide them into different groups. Customers behave differently based on:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Time of day or year
  • And a host of other factors (are they repeat customers, for example…are they enrolled with your rewards program, etc.)

The more fine-grained you’re able to make your customer segments, the better. It means you can perform much more meaningful A/B tests, creating a positive feedback loop where the detailed picture you have allows you to glean even more detail.

Make their life easier

Whichever customer segment you’re looking at, making things easier for them is the ultimate goal of omnichannel marketing. Put yourself in your customer's shoes, think about their wants at a given time in the journey, and work outward from there. 

Crafting a compelling customer experience with omnichannel

Regardless of channel or customer segment, the overall customer experience should always be central to your marketing. All your nudges, prompts, and reminders should be geared towards crafting a phenomenal customer experience. If you’re firing off email reminders and push notifications to a device without an overall experience framework, all you’ll do is annoy customers and drive them away.

So how do you create this framework? Here are some of the key attributes your omnichannel marketing strategy needs to have:

Consistent messaging

Creating a seamless transition between channels means your marketing messages need to stay unambiguous. Pooling data, making sure all your various teams are on the same page, and perfecting your tech stack are all prerequisites to this. It’s important to have your marketing team in the driver's seat, coordinating the business-wide effort, to make sure your output is fresh, consistent, and relevant across channels.

Automated, personalized emails

Your customers get bombarded with generic emails every day, so you need to make sure yours stand out with relevant, timely messaging. If you can make your customers feel like the emails they receive add value, by offering discounts on products they’ve already been browsing on your site, for example, they’re much less likely to trash them and much more likely to click through to your product page. 

Sensitive notifications and DMs

A thorough omnichannel data-gathering exercise will tell you a lot about your customers. But be careful about how you use the information. There’s a fine line between a highly personalized marketing drive and just looking plain creepy. Make sure you’re keeping track of when, where, and how often you’re messaging customers. The aim is to smooth their journey, not drive them away. 

In-store technology

Providing kiosks and other devices in-store is becoming an essential part of an omnichannel strategy. It helps the customer find what they want, enhances the in-store experience, and helps you track shopping habits.

Joined-up social media

With omnichannel, you need to make sure you’re taking a holistic approach to social media marketing. This doesn’t mean that all your posts have to be the same on all social media channels, but it does mean that your customers should be able to click through from channel to channel and onto your online store without friction. The messaging should also feel consistent from your tone of voice to the offers in store and online.

Putting these elements in place will set you up for omnichannel success. But if this seems like too huge an undertaking, don’t worry. You can start small and build up your omnichannel capabilities as you scale your brand. 

As long as you start with your customers’ needs, even if you’re simply creating an Instagram post, you can integrate it into a wider omnichannel strategy.

More outstanding omnichannel marketing examples

Zumiez


Zumiez omnichannel marketing
Credit: Zumiez


The skater and specialty clothing retailer, Zumiez, has made a reputation for being a leader in omnichannel experiences. One stand-out feature is how they let customers buy online and pick up in-store on the same day (see the “Get it now” option on their product pages). 

Zumiez product page
Credit: Zumiez


But perhaps more important than this is the brand’s commitment to excellent customer service once someone’s in store after purchasing online. With their physical stores, their associates are famous for their commitment to customer service, and deep knowledge and passion for their products. 

Getting the basics right on all your channels and combining them with enthusiasm and attention to detail goes a long way to achieving a successful omnichannel marketing strategy. 

Orvis

Orvis omnichannel marketing
Credit: Orvis


This Outdoors and sporting apparel brand has been able to develop an omnichannel strategy catering to the older demographic that forms the lion’s share of its customer base. 

Their analysis revealed that while their customers were willing to use digital channels, they were not 100% comfortable with them. So instead of putting the onus on customers to navigate their brand online, Orvis helped shoppers by providing in-store devices that linked to their ecommerce set-up. 

Orvis product page
Credit: Orvis


This allowed customers access to an enhanced shopping experience in-store, introduced them to a new channel they could use once they were comfortable, and gave Orvis a greater understanding of buying habits. 

It was a neat way to bridge the technological divide and is another example of a brand creatively delivering an omnichannel strategy. 

#cta-visual-fe#<cta-title>Ensure your online shopping is exceptional<cta-title>Learn how Shogun Frontend can help you achieve the exact ecommerce experience you envision. Learn more

Starbucks

Starbucks omnichannel marketing
Credit: Starbucks


Starbucks has one of the most finely-tuned omnichannel strategies around. It’s no surprise, as they’ve spent a good deal of time and effort elaborating it. There are many strands to their omnichannel marketing, but perhaps the most successful is the Starbucks app that lets customers pre-order coffees before picking them up from one of their coffee shops.

What Starbucks recognized is that customers often don’t have the time to wait in line during a busy morning or lunch break. Giving them the ability to skip the queue has proved hugely popular. The app also takes care of tracking a customer’s rewards, and gives the brand the option to send push notifications with relevant, timely, personalized offers.

Pura Vida

Pura Vida omnichannel marketing
Credit: Pura Vida


Bracelet and accessory retailer Pura Vida has grown its Shopify store from a small operation run by two friends into a highly successful brand that’s sold over two million bracelets.

As they scaled, they realized they needed to step up their marketing and customer relationship game, and so they invested in an omnichannel strategy. 

Pura Vida product page
Credit: Pura Vida


Emails become more personalized, with product-specific and timely messages replacing catch-all email campaigns. 

They also focused their personalization efforts on reducing cart abandonment, with special discount codes being offered to customers who didn't complete their purchase in a given session online.  

Omnichannel best practices: 5 steps to a winning strategy

So now that we have a general outline of what an omnichannel marketing strategy looks like, how should you put it into practice? How do you take your current marketing efforts to the next level?

1. Track and measure your progress

Whichever data analytics tools you use, the approach you should be taking is to look at your data holistically. Instead of obsessing over individual metrics too closely—like how many click-throughs your ad is getting. Concerning omnichannel, you should be looking at how your customer progresses through the whole shopping journey, and what messages facilitate their progress. This could be a combination of email, in-app notifications, Facebook ads, etc. 

The important point is to track how your messaging is going down and test if different messages, delivered at different times, or to different customer segments makes an impact on sales and conversions.

2. Get company-wide input 

To create a seamless experience, all departments need to be on board. From the retail assistant entering customer information into the point of sale (POS) system to your backend development team creating versatile and robust add-to-cart features, everyone has a hand in helping the customer along their journey. There are lots of dependencies in this type of strategy, so it’s all hands on deck.

3. Share data

If your data is siloed in different departments it’s going to be all but impossible to create meaningful omnichannel experiences. You need to take a holistic approach, and this applies to data processing and analytics as much as it does to messaging and frontend experiences.

4. Integrate your ecommerce and marketing software 

Omnichannel marketing is about much more than having the latest software. However, to get an overarching view of data and customer behavior, and to use this knowledge to craft those all-important customer experiences, you’ll need to get your tech right. 

At the minimum, you’ll need a great customer relationship management system or CRM to collate and store all that customer information, and a content management system (CMS)—to provide a single place to manage content across channels. You’ll also need an ecommerce backend capable of serving content to multiple frontends, and a frontend delivery system that can accommodate marketing plans across mobile, desktop, in-store kiosks, and any number of other channels and devices. 

5. Leverage a headless commerce setup to create more engaging omnichannel marketing

Creating the right ecommerce environment in which to run your omnichannel campaigns is much easier with a headless setup. Being able to integrate a backend commerce platform with multiple frontends makes it a lot easier to align content and messaging across multiple channels. 

Make your omnichannel marketing easier with a unified frontend platform

Crafting engaging and consistent omnichannel experiences takes a lot of time and energy, and there are no shortcuts to success. But you can take some of the pain out of omnichannel marketing by going headless with a unified frontend platform. Headless commerce allows you to deliver content to a wearable device, mobile app, or in-store kiosk, all from the same place. 

Headless commerce allows you to easily create experiences for different channels, regardless of the frontend delivery language or framework. Separating the backend ecommerce functions from the frontend delivery platform gives you the freedom to create unique customer experiences in a channel-agnostic way. 

Doing this with a unified frontend solution removes the stress from going headless as you don’t need to assemble all the tech. Ultimately helping you focus exclusively on the customer experience.

#cta-visual-fe#<cta-title>Ensure your online shopping is exceptional<cta-title>Learn how Shogun Frontend can help you achieve the exact ecommerce experience you envision. Learn more

Rhys Williams

Rhys is a writer specializing in enterprise software, ecommerce, and SaaS. He describes himself as a geek and a wordsmith and relishes making complex, technical topics come to life in easy-to-understand web copy.