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Omnichannel: the elegant strategy of a more civilised age.

Or at least an age with a lot more channels available.

Single-channel marketing might seem like a simpler time, when you could shove an ad into a primetime TV slot or write a blurb to be printed in the paper. Problem was, you were jostling with everyone else for the exact same space, and in terms of targeting your followers, your options mostly started and finished at ‘hoping for the best’.

Thanks to social media and digital marketing, advertising can now be targeted to your ideal audience, and with so many different tools at your disposal, omnichannel marketing describes making use of all the channels that best suit your business.

Still sounding complicated? Then let’s delve a little deeper…

WHY IS OMNICHANNEL SO IMPORTANT?

Consumers of today expect their digital experience with a business to be totally cohesive. They’ll jump from seeing you in a Facebook ad straight to your mobile-responsive site, where they’ll want to seamlessly cruise through the checkout process, sign up to your mailing list for future deals or updates, and maybe even check you out on Youtube, Instagram, or wherever else you have a social presence.

It’s a digital juggling act; the natural result of people using multiple devices and communicating in so many different ways. It therefore becomes the job of businesses to make sure their marketing is keeping up with every relevant channel, with the rewards being very real and tangible: customer retention rates are 90% higher for omnichannel vs single-channel, with customer satisfaction estimated to be 23x higher.

That’s all down to being given multiple contact points with a business, ideally ones that work together towards a single objective and make the whole purchase easier, quicker and very easily repeatable.

MANAGING YOUR OMNICHANNEL CAMPAIGN

Despite the name, omnichannel doesn’t necessarily mean every single channel in existence. However, it does mean targeting all of the best and most relevant channels, while making them all work together for a united goal.

This may sound like a frenzied dance that requires truckloads of time and cash, reserved for mega-corporations with a monster marketing budget…but it’s not. An omnichannel strategy requires time, research and upkeep, but what it doesn’t require is a massive stack of cash or a PhD in Marketing Psychology.

That last thing doesn’t even exist; we just made it up.

The truly great thing about smaller businesses is that they know their audience far better than a huge corporation. A smaller, more intimate audience makes it easier to know exactly what sort of marketing works for them, after which you can create advertising to best suit the people who need to see it. 

Of course, creating a marketing campaign spanning multiple channels will require: planning.

The power of an omnichannel campaign lies in the planning stage, which comes in several steps:

1. IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE

If you’re launching an ad campaign in 2019 without knowing who your audience is, you might as well be waiting by the phone for someone to respond to your Yellow Pages listing.

Research your audience and understand who they are, after which you’ll have all the information you need going forward.

2. IDENTIFY YOUR CHANNELS

Will your audience respond well to a Facebook post? A photo on Instagram? Or maybe a traditional leaflet drive? You’ll want to target as many channels as possible, digital and physical, but test them first to see how well they manage to reach people.

3. MAKE THE CREATIVE

You’re obviously going to need to show people something during the campaign, and this is the step that’ll take the most time, especially if video is involved. However, you should have all the information you need from knowing your audience, their needs and wants and the channels where your ads will hit hardest.

4. CREATE A TIMELINE

Timing matters just as much as the content of your campaign. Once you have your perfect advertising, you’re still going to need to organise it all into an easily-digestible timeline so you know what to post, and when.

The nature of omnichannel means that it can be easy to lose track of one or more channels, so having everything represented on a timeline gives you all the information you need to keep track. A Gantt chart showing it all in one easily digestible chunk is perfect, since it lets you see exactly when the Facebook ads start, the date you send out the email updates, and when the whole cycle starts anew.

THE FUTURE OF OMNICHANNEL

The future is bright for omnichannel, and not just because the channels themselves keep multiplying. Voice recognition is changing the way we interact with the web, which makes that one more channel to be integrated into a marketing strategy.

The part of omnichannel that takes the greatest chunk of time- the creative- could soon be handed off to AI that can hone in on the best audience far better than humans ever could.

This means advertising targeted to individuals with pinpoint accuracy based on solid data…so at the very least, the days of sitting through YouTube ads for ride-share apps when you cycle to work are coming to an end. We’ll soon be seeing personalised ads that feel relevant, thanks to AI algorithms that select the right channel and the right message.

THE SMARTER WAY

When it comes to omnichannel, SBM has a familiar starting point: understanding your audience. This forms the basis of practically all facets of marketing, so it makes perfect sense that you should know who you’re targeting, as well as what you’d like to achieve with your messaging.

Once we know the audience and the goals, we can paint a much clearer picture of what channels will work, how to hit each one with the perfect messaging, and when, using a clear timeline.

Omnichannel may seem intimidating, but at its core, it’s just marketing as it always was, accelerated. With the proper planning, you can create a holistic, efficient and effective omnichannel strategy that’ll give you a clear competitive edge in a world with so many digital avenues to explore.

 


 

Looking to supercharge your digital marketing? Contact Smith Brothers Media for a business discovery session today!

 

– Written by Stuart J.A. McNabb

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