Omnichannel Marketing in 2023: Best Practices & Examples For Success
October 17, 2022
These days, the ecommerce marketing that actually makes an impact occurs on many fronts simultaneously. An ad over here, an email over there, some social media in between.
Successful brands understand that merchants should be marketing and selling on multiple channels to grow.
But how can you do 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.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- The definition of omnichannel marketing
- Benefits of an omnichannel marketing strategy
- Multichannel vs omnichannel marketing
- How to start omnichannel marketing
- Omnichannel marketing best practices
- Examples of omnichannel marketing
- Omnichannel marketing FAQs
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What is omnichannel marketing?
Put simply, omnichannel marketing means creating continuity of marketing across channels.
These marketing 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.
With the help of the omnichannel marketing strategy, a business can unify all of its offline and online marketing initiatives into a universal, seamless customer experience. In other words, all of a customer’s encounters with the brand are coordinated and integrated.
– David Bitton, Co-Founder and CMO at DoorLoop
In theory, this omnichannel journey looks like this:
A potential customer browses your social media feeds, clicks a display ad, peruses your online store, and finally picks up that perfect product from your physical store. All without getting friction between those distinct channels.
Think about your own experience.
You find a brand on Facebook, dig deeper into their Instagram, follow them over time, finally browse their online store, save something for pickup, collect it at an in-store kiosk, and pay with your Apple Watch, giving you rewards points with your email receipt.
If it all feels seamless as a customer (and not too much!), this was great omnichannel marketing at play.
In our case, a well-tuned system that works across many channels, primarily in-store and online, encapsulates the viability of omnichannel marketing. The service quality is similar everywhere they interact with the business. Brand awareness and loyalty are improved by having both a physical and a digital footprint.
– Deepanshu Bedi, Marketing Director at Holistapet
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 does omnichannel marketing look like?
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 initially began 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.
This blending of online and offline ultimately makes life easier for the customer, making it even more convenient to purchase.
Benefits of an omnichannel marketing strategy
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 spending 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 that omnichannel customers spend 9% more when they visit in person. Getting omnichannel right 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, the chances are your marketing is getting personalization right. With more touch points comes more data and more chances to surprise and delight customers along their journey.
Omnichannel marketing is a game-changer for brand recognition. An omnichannel strategy ensures that a company’s branding is presented to customers in a unified and consistent manner spanning all channels. Brand recall increases as a result.
– David Bitton, Co-Founder and CMO at DoorLoop
Omnichannel vs multichannel marketing
There is an important distinction between omnichannel and multichannel marketing:
- 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 simply as follows:
- Omnichannel strategy = customer-focused
- Multichannel strategy = channel-focused
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 the multichannel approach 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.
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How to create an omnichannel marketing strategy
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 toward 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?
The transition to an omnichannel approach can be a bit daunting, but it starts with understanding your customer’s behavior across all channels and determining how you can best meet their needs in those touchpoints.
Some strategies for successful omnichannel marketing include offering a seamless shopping experience across all channels, utilizing data to personalize messaging and offers, and constantly evaluating and improving the customer journey.
– Caitlyn Parish, Founder and CEO of Cicinia
Investigate the omnichannel customer journey
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 journey 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.
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:
- 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.
Develop consistent messaging across channels
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.
Use personalization in email marketing
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, they’re less likely to trash them.
For example, by offering discounts on products they’ve already been browsing on your site, they are much more likely to click through to your product page.
Don’t be creepy
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.
Integrate 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.
Create an omnichannel social media strategy
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 marketing capabilities as you scale your brand.
As long as you start with your customer’s needs, even if you’re simply creating an Instagram post, you can integrate it into a wider omnichannel strategy.
5 Omnichannel marketing best practices
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?
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.
Work with your whole team
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 someone along their omnichannel customer journey.
There are lots of dependencies in this type of strategy, so it’s all hands on deck.
Share and use data across company
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, which applies to data processing and analytics as much as it does to your messaging and site design.
When your whole team has access to key data, you can provide a more meaningful omnichannel experience. Because marketing extends beyond the marketing department and into every interaction customers have with your brand.
Integrate your tools to create an omnichannel marketing platform
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 (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.
Luckily, popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce combine these technologies for you, setting you up for omnichannel success.
#cta-paragraph-pb#Learn about the benefits of leveraging omnichannel analytics and data for more effective marketing campaigns.
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Omnichannel marketing examples
To give you a clearer idea of what it means to make your marketing omnichannel, let’s look at some brands that do it particularly well.
Zumiez – Bridging the gap between online and offline purchasing
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 (BOPIS) on the same day (see the “Get it now” option on their product pages).
But perhaps more important than this is the brand’s commitment to excellent customer service once someone’s in the 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 – An omnichannel approach that brings ecommerce in-store
This outdoor 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.
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.
Starbucks – Letting customers skip the line with omnichannel retail
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 – Building personalized experiences to increase customer retention
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, so they invested in an omnichannel strategy.
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 marketing FAQs
How effective is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel customers spend 4% more online and 9% in-store than other customers. Plus, they have more brand loyalty (meaning more repeat visits) and drive greater personalization in marketing.
What are the pros and cons of omnichannel strategy?
- A better customer experience
- Ability to stay competitive
- Increased sales and conversions
- Higher customer engagement and loyalty
- A more effective and frictionless sales funnel
- Universally trackable inventory across channels
- Requires more technical knowledge
- Better interdepartmental communication is vital to success
- Implementation can be expensive
Why do customers prefer omnichannel?
With an omnichannel strategy, your customers can approach your brand from any channel and get the same experience.
This reduces any friction they might experience during shopping, increasing the chances that they’ll get what they need without looking elsewhere.
Whether in-store, on your ecommerce site, or through your socials, they can find what they want and get on with their day.
What is an omnichannel brand?
An omnichannel brand is one that successfully implements a frictionless experience across their channels based on what their customers need.
Look at the examples above to get an idea of what that looks like in action.
Simplify omnichannel marketing with a powerful no-code page builder
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 leveraging a powerful, no-code page builder.
A tool like Shogun Page Builder Advanced allows you to create your own custom, reusable page templates. This way, you can dupe any page you’ve built and quickly reuse it for another campaign.
What’s more, Shopify brands wanting to grow with Hydrogen can access Page Builder for Hydrogen, which enables you to deploy your Shogun content to a Hydrogen store with ease.
Spending less time reinventing the wheel means more time investing in your customer experience.
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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.