3 Omnichannel Marketing Strategies that Put Customers First

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The idea of omnichannel is so simple that it can be hard for people outside of the marketing world to believe it’s a new thing. Humans have been experiencing interactions across multiple channels for at least as long as there has been mail — and arguably, as long as there’s been writing. At this point, it’s natural for most of us.

However, when businesses try to do omnichannel marketing, it rarely works the way they think it will. Either we struggle to keep any consistency across channels or end up inundating customers, with multiple channels saying exactly the same thing. We come up with complex models of customer behavior but fail to integrate it into our workflow, or we get everything right except what matters: understanding the customer.

There’s no quick and easy fix to all these problems; omnichannel is an iterative process, and it can take some time to get it right. But whatever aspect of omnichannel marketing with which you’re struggling, there’s one thing that will always help: making it about the customer.

Here are three strategies for omnichannel marketing that work by putting the customer first.

1. Choose your touchpoints carefully

As marketers, we value the greater number of touchpoints that omnichannel allows. It’s a simple idea: the more channels you add, the more opportunities you get to make a connection. And in theory, more opportunities means more connections, which means more conversions.

But there’s a fine line between giving a consumer more opportunities to interact with your brand and pestering a consumer who clearly wants you to go away. When you cross that line, you’re not driving sales anymore — you’re just burning your channels and driving potential customers away. So how do you avoid crossing that line?

Subtract volume when you add channels

Imagine you have a friend who is completely offline; you can only get in touch with them by mail. So you use that method of communication for everything, from making plans to catching up about life. Then one day, they finally decide to sign up for an email account.

Think about how that email account would change the way you communicate with your friend. You probably wouldn’t send postcards or write them letters all the time anymore. Instead, you would use email to ask simple questions or make plans, and only send something through the mail for special occasions.

While you might contact them more often in total (since it’s so easy to send off a quick email), your mail volume goes down, because you’re shifting some of your communication to the new channel.

Your omnichannel marketing strategy should work the same way when you add new channels — from direct mail and emails to SMS and social media — to reach customers, leads, or other stakeholders. Twice as many channels shouldn’t mean twice as many messages. In fact, one of the benefits of adding channels is that you can reduce the number of messages you send on each individual channel to prevent customers from becoming overwhelmed or tuning out your brand.

Use the strengths of each channel to anticipate customer needs

When your friend finally gets their email account, common sense tells you which conversations to move to email and which to keep on the phone. That common sense can also help you use each marketing channel most effectively to reach customers.

Rather than sending the same message everywhere, use the strengths and weaknesses of each channel to dictate your strategy. For example:

  • Social media lets you target users precisely, interact frequently, and build community. Use it to grow your audience, make connections with influencers, and amplify your brand’s voice.
  • Email is practically free, intimate (when done with personalization), and able to reach everyone who has opted in to hear from you. Use it for testing messaging, nurturing relationships with highly personalized content, and communicating with engaged customers.
  • Direct mail has fantastic open and response rates, and nearly all recipients will at least see your message. Use it for high-value and highly targeted messages, or to boost the conversion rates of other channels.

The companies that use omnichannel marketing the most effectively have amplified the strengths of each of these channels by implementing a customer data platform. With a SmartHub Customer Data Platform (CDP) like Blueshift, you can create relevant content in real time, orchestrate engaging omnichannel experiences, and unify and activate your customer data. It turns out omnichannel can be simple after all.

2. Take care of the customers you already have

Unless you’re a new startup, or undergoing a period of rapid growth, retention marketing is probably the most effective marketing technique you have. Existing customers provide 65% of business, and it costs 25x as much to gain a new customer as it does to retain an existing one.

In the long run, retention marketing is one of the best ways to get new customers, too. By keeping your existing customers engaged and showing your appreciation, you’ll organically earn brand advocates and promoters who will bring in their own friends and family.

Omnichannel marketing gives you an edge in the retention game, because it enables you to meet customers where they’re most receptive. Here’s how to do it:

Be best at follow-ups

Go above and beyond in how you follow up with customer questions, comments, and concerns across all channels. If a customer asks a good question, don’t just respond to it — write a blog about it and share it with them. If a customer writes a nice review, feature it on your social media account, and respond with a short message thanking them.

If a customer has a complaint, thank them for that too, and do what you can to make it better.

Even in our hyper-connected world, most companies still treat engaging with customers as a chore. If you can do it better than your competitors (and you can!), you’ll reap the retention rewards.

Bonus tip: Make it easy for customers if they choose the wrong channel (e.g., emailing sales when they need support or hitting up a support chat with a new feature request). Instead of just sending them off with contact information, route them directly there. Just saving them a few steps and some wait time can show your customers how much you value them.

Do something special for your customers

One of the great things about retention marketing is that it doesn’t have to be conversion-focused to work. Sometimes, just making a customer smile is the best thing you can do for your brand.

Send customers a birthday card in the mail with a free gift or offer for a discount on your product or service. Provide a personalized electronic newsletter focused on getting the best value from the products they’ve already purchased. If it’s relevant to your business, let them know about local events they’d find interesting.

Sweeten the pot

Retention marketing is a powerful tool to prevent churn. By measuring the time period since the last purchase, you can detect customers who are likely to leave and send them special offers to re-engage them.

But you don’t have to wait until a customer is on the way out to bring them back in. Omnichannel marketing gives you a tremendous range of options to sweeten the pot. Here are just a few:

  • Channel-specific deals: Discounts for social media followers, special live giveaways during a webinar, prizes for getting friends to sign up for your mailing list — the options are endless.
  • Build anticipation: Use multiple channels to get customers invested in an offer. For example, email customers to let them know they’re getting something special in the mail a few days ahead.
  • Games: Use your omnichannel capabilities to gamify a special prize. It can be as simple as asking customers to send in pictures of themselves using your product and featuring your favorites on the blog or as complex as your imagination (and level of customer engagement) allow.

3. Focus on helping customers, not pushing them

You can’t count on customers to take a single, linear path anymore. A customer might easily use three or four devices and consult half a dozen different channels before they make a purchase.

Add in friend and family recommendations, articles and consumer guides, influencers and all the other factors that influence purchasing decisions, and the potential journeys for each customer are essentially infinite. While you can give a customer the most relevant options, you can’t decide what step the customer takes next and expect them to follow your lead.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t structure your marketing to qualify leads and move them towards a purchase decision. What it does mean is that you have to shift your focus. Instead of honing in on making consumers take the next action, you need to think about how you can be useful and appealing to consumers wherever they find you.

Segments drive funnels

Segmentation is one of your greatest tools for providing useful content to customers. By tracking interests, demographics, browsing habits, past purchases, and other factors, you can anticipate what customers want at each stage of their journey and give it to them.

Understand where the customer is and what they want right now, make it easy to take the next step, and the funnel will take care of itself.

Personalization is the best optimization

There will always be a role for traditional optimization to help drive traffic and conversions. But nothing is more important than giving customers what they want. Skyscraper content has its place, but when a customer has a quick, simple question, they want a quick, simple answer. Linking to high-performing pages is never going to beat linking the content a particular customer actually wants.

Nearly half of all customers have left a site for a competitor because of lack of personalization. As far as we know, no one has ever left a site because it was too relevant to them.

Respect your customer’s intelligence

Your customers live in a world saturated with marketing. They’re good at tuning out the hype, no matter how hyperbolic. They’re capable of passing up “limited time” and “last chance” offers — they know they’ll get another chance soon. Ultimately, they understand their needs better than you do.

Companies that see omnichannel marketing as a way to beat customers over the head with the same message until they give in are undervaluing their customers and themselves. If you have a good product and half a dozen different ways to reach out to customers, you can do better. Give them good information and great experiences. Delight them. Intrigue them. And know when to step back, and wait for them to come to you.

Implement meaningful omnichannel marketing strategies with Blueshift’s SmartHub CDP. Want to learn more about how Blueshift can transform your omnichannel marketing? Schedule a demo with a SmartHub CDP expert today.