Omnichannel marketing means creating a seamless, on-brand experience across various channels. Then, whether a customer decides to buy something online or in a store, they get the same — hopefully positive — outcomes.
From a marketing point of view, it means promoting your brand or products through several channels or methods of distributing information. Succeeding at omnichannel marketing is not as easy as it might seem at first. However, these do’s and don’ts will steer you in the right direction.
Do Select Your Channels Carefully
Running a strong omnichannel marketing campaign means understanding which channels your audience prefers and responding accordingly. Some marketers immediately feel compelled to make their companies present on all the major options available. However, that’s often prohibitively time- and cost-intensive and may cause a general decrease in quality.
Dig into all the available data and determine which channels your customers use most often. For example, maybe most of your customers use Facebook, but a much smaller percentage use Snapchat. After collecting your findings, use them to drive your marketing decisions. What you learn could guide your tone choices, too. If your social media audience is primarily under 30, you might use more casual language to tell them about an in-store promotion.
There’s also no reason why you can’t choose a certain number of marketing channels at the start, then adjust the count later. The goal is not necessarily for your customers to notice your company’s presence on every platform they use. It’s better if they consistently see high-quality material, whether they’re online or engaging with your brand in a physical setting.
It doesn’t make sense to put lots of time and money into channels most of your customers don’t use. When you rely on data to direct your strategy, it’s easier to ensure you’ll have the most significant impact for your efforts.
Don’t Depend on Overly Generic Messaging
People frequently get bombarded with messages that seem like they could apply to any brand in any sector. Another common issue is that the audience cannot relate to the individuals appearing in the campaigns. If they think, “That person doesn’t seem like they’d understand my situation,” a disconnect occurs between your company and its messaging.
One of the reasons for that issue is that companies lean too heavily on messaging intended to have a universal appeal. It actually leaves large segments of the audience feeling that the business does not understand them or their needs. Personalization can go a long way in helping your omnichannel marketing strategies pay off.
Consider the example of MB Financial Bank. The century-old financial institution needed to do better at connecting with small-business owners in its home market of Chicago. The bank launched the “MB Is Me” campaign with print, radio and digital media ads featuring actual area branch managers. Next, it created a targeted direct mail campaign where those bank employees spoke directly to Chicago’s small-business owners. The effort caused a 205% increase in sales leads.
The campaign arguably got those impressive results because it showed the owners of small companies what to expect by doing business with the banking brand. No matter if a person learned that through something they received in the mail or heard on the radio, the marketing approach helped set realistic expectations. Similarly, it emphasized that MB Financial employees have the expertise and empathy needed to assist this audience segment.
Do Make Smart Choices to Promote Visibility and Recognition
Any marketing methods you pick become largely useless if they’re not visible enough. Consider a situation where you have an online banner promoting a buy-one-get-one-free offer on luxury hand soap. The graphic could also specify that people cannot use that offer on Tuesdays. If the text displaying that stipulation is too small — or too blurry — to read easily, people will likely become frustrated while trying to take advantage of the promotion on that day.
Visibility also matters for physical signage. Provided they don’t have vision challenges, people can read 4-inch text from 100 feet away and recognize 16-inch text while up to a city block from it. Think about how people will most likely see a sign for the first time. Will they pass it on foot or while moving much faster in a car? How could things like surrounding lights or the time of day affect readability? Would the use of contrasting colors help?
Consider how brand recognition connects to omnichannel marketing, too. Might a particular font, color scheme or logo on a physical sign or digital banner help people more readily identify your brand? If adding an image or logo to your signage, be careful not to compromise visibility with that decision. You don’t want to have so much content on the sign that people get too distracted and don’t read it in time.
Take your time when designing the digital and physical materials for an omnichannel campaign. Remember that it must be equally impactful whether people see the messaging on a huge billboard, a smartphone screen or a magazine. Applying the same signage design decisions across the whole campaign via all channels also supports recognition through consistency.
Don’t Make an International Campaign Without Local Help
Many omnichannel campaigns have global appeal. The McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign is a prime example. There’s no harm in creating something people can understand and appreciate no matter where they live.
However, you should also plan your campaign to have customizable elements that you can focus on or remove in certain countries. For example, instead of using the same visuals across all markets, plan to have numerous versions. That way, you can select the ones that most accurately reflect the given locations.
Even if your company has an experienced marketing team, it’s best to hire local help, too. Those people have firsthand experience with the conditions, culture and regulations of the respective nation, reducing the chances you’ll run into pitfalls. Many local marketing experts also have the opportunity to work with a company based elsewhere. They may have lower-than-expected rates, too, helping you stay at or under budget.
Always talk to your local marketers about plans, goals and challenges. Since they’ll approach your situation with the benefit of an area-specific viewpoint, you can trust and depend on them to suggest strategies you may not otherwise have considered. If your local resources have serious reservations about a part of your campaign due to something like cultural insensitivity, don’t despair. Take that as an opportunity to tweak your approach and make it even better.
Do Assess How a Campaign Can Meet a Customer’s Needs
Excelling at omnichannel marketing is all about reducing the friction a person might otherwise encounter across channels. Along with that, brands should examine how their campaign can cater to customers’ known or assumed needs. How could a marketing strategy bring convenience while driving sales?
Target answered that daunting question expertly through a Pinterest partnership. It let shoppers use the social platform’s Lens tool to snap a picture of something they liked in their environment, then search for similar products in the retailer’s bridal and baby registry catalogs or on its website. Words alone may not suffice as someone tries to turn what they envision into terms that an online search functionality recognizes.
This campaign addresses the immediacy of wanting to buy a particular product and seeing if Target can meet that need. Planning becomes simpler, too. Rather than inputting a broad search term such as “white mirror,” a picture more clearly describes shoppers’ desires and streamlines a search process. It also encourages people to explore, discover and keep an open mind as they look for items that strike their fancy.
This omnichannel marketing example focuses on making shopping easier for consumers while seamlessly blending the real world with online content. Many people already do things like research products online before shopping for them in stores. It also helps that Pinterest is a popular platform, meaning many Target shoppers are already using it. Keep this case study in mind as you examine how to cater to customers while promoting your brand.
Don’t Plan a Campaign Without Understanding the Potential Obstacles
As you start ironing out the specifics of your campaign, think about what you aim to achieve, as well as any factors that may get in the way. Many of those may be outside of your control, but they don’t necessarily mean you have to scrap initial ideas. Identified challenges can become forces to spark creativity.
In November 2019, Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals wanted to increase sales and knowledge of a cough and sneezing medicine called Mucinex Nightshift. The marketing team planned to send samples to people in their homes and hoped that action would increase sales through major e-commerce partners, including Walmart.
The problem was that the medicine contains an active ingredient that Walmart will not ship. People could buy the product, but they would have to pick it up in the nearest store. Marketing representatives responded to that regulatory challenge by changing the kind of samples they sent. Instead of getting trial sizes of the medication, consumers received packages of tissues that included product information, plus QR codes on the back.
People who scanned them got taken online to watch a product video or see stores that offered an option to pick up the product after purchasing it through the internet. The tissue packs reached approximately 35,000 households, and there were nearly 15,000 online-based sales of people who decided to try the medicine. Since this campaign resulted in a total product value of $241,257, the marketers working on it deemed the endeavor successful.
Learn From Your Omnichannel Marketing Experiences
These do’s and don’ts will help you get off to a strong start and avoid some of the common mistakes made when companies invest in omnichannel marketing. However, since this is not an all-encompassing list, you should expect to learn and grow through experiences. Take that knowledge and use it to improve your future campaigns and learn what works best for your company or brand.
About the Author!
Lexie is a digital nomad and graphic designer. If she’s not traveling to various parts of the country, you can find her at the local flea markets or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.