This post originally appeared on tBL member Joshua Lyon's blog Joshua Lyons Marketing Blog and is republished with permission. Find out how to syndicate your content with theBrokerList.
Today, marketing is much more than a newspaper advertisement or a billboard along the highway. In the 21st century, marketing is smart, integrated and highly strategic. With so many companies and brands today, marketers have to step up their game and give their customers an incentive to choose them. To do this, you must have amazing online and offline experiences. This is where the concept of omni-channel marketing comes into play.
What is Omni-Channel Marketing?
Omni-channel marketing is the cohesion of multiple marketing platforms to benefit the overall customer experience. It is where you use multiple marketing channels to work together in order to make shopping, visiting, or renting with your business easier. By using different platforms, such as apps, website features, in-store mobile devices, reward programs, and order processors, businesses implement this marketing strategy. It makes interacting with a business more enjoyable, and sometimes even more fun than it would have been with just one marketing channel.
The channels used in this type of marketing strategy aren’t always typical marketing channels. As mentioned above, marketing is different today. The marketing channels you will use are how you make customers choose your business. They will be the integration between reward points and spending them at your physical location. Or, it will be making ordering easier by making their choices on their phone. While this might not be social media or television advertisements, they are still marketing channels as they help boost your sales.
The Difference Between Omni-Channel and Multi-Channel Marketing
Omni-channel marketing and multi-channel marketing are very similar and many people confuse the two frequently. With multi-channel marketing, you use multiple channels such as Facebook, YouTube, magazine advertisements, your website and Google My Business. While your business may be on all of these platforms, they likely don’t work together. With multi-channel marketing strategies, the different channels work parallel to each other, but they never cross paths with each other. But, with omni-channel marketing, your channels work with each other and are heavily integrated.
Why is Omni-Channel Marketing Important?
Omni-channel marketing is an incentive for customers to choose you. When they think about your brand, you want them to think about how easy it is to shop with you. Or, they should think about how fun it is to use your website. Perhaps you run a restaurant and would like to create a rewards program through an app. Chances are, customers with the app will choose you over your competitors to redeem and earn more rewards. And, if they can order through the app, this makes the process even easier for them. As you can see, the use of these marketing channels can be highly effective in boosting sales and customer experience.
On the other hand, perhaps you’re a brick-and-mortar store. You can still improve customer experience and boost sales with a great website or mobile app. 80% of people use the internet to look up reviews of a product or to compare prices as they shop in-person. So, if your website isn’t compatible with their mobile devices, their customer experience will go down. But, if you have a mobile-friendly website or an app, you can make it easy for them to check your stock or your prices.
Examples of Omni-Channel Marketing
You have likely seen multiple companies use this type of marketing before. In fact, most future-focused companies are developing their own omni-channel marketing strategies today. The companies that were ahead of the times are now seeing great success with their marketing strategies. Let’s go over a few examples so you can see how much you enjoy omni-channel marketing!
Chick-Fil-A is an excellent example of successful omni-channel marketing. If you are an avid Chick-Fil-A customer, you likely have the Chick-Fil-A app! And if you don’t, we highly recommend using it (just from our personal experience with it, of course). The Chick-Fil-A app enables you to create your order, choose your pick up method, and even allows you to pay through the app. Once your order is fulfilled, they give you points that go towards free menu items. This app is a great marketing tactic, as the ease of ordering, pick up, and payment makes the experience much better for customers. Not to mention, the app has a map system where it directs you to the closest Chick-Fil-A to you. How helpful is that?
Chick-Fil-A also practices email marketing. They will email you a happy birthday coupon each year, as well as send you announcements about new menu items. In addition to their app and email marketing, they are known for their creative billboards. Seeing cows advertise eating more chicken in improper English is something you just can’t miss. Their corporate offices maintain active social media accounts, and each location has the option to run their own social media. Considering they are one of the most profitable chains in the United States, it’s safe to say they do omni-channel marketing correctly.
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Similarly to the Chick-Fil-A app, Starbucks has an app that keeps track of your reward points and allows you to pay on the app. You can also make an order on the Starbucks app in which you can pick your drink up and take it to go. For the most part, when you’re getting Starbucks, it’s usually on the way to work or school. So, the Starbucks marketing team used this to their advantage and made an app that makes the experience even faster. Now, if you’re in a rush and need to choose between coffee shops, you will likely choose Starbucks if you have the app.
Perhaps one of the most effective forms of marketing for Starbucks is its cups. Posting a picture of a Starbucks cup on social media is incredibly normal and even trendy. This is especially the case when it’s pumpkin spice season. This is just free marketing for the company. Because of the success of their throwaway cups, they now have to-go cups. Most of these cups feature their popular logo as well. The next time you post your Starbucks cup on your Instagram Story, know you are helping their omni-channel marketing!
If you are a Walgreens customer, you may be aware of their highly regarded app. Their app does multiple things to make their customers’ lives easier. For one, it makes it very easy to refill prescriptions at your desired Walgreens location. Secondly, it allows you to upload photos from your phone to send it to the Walgreens Photo counter. Thirdly, it has the rewards program built into the app for deals on prescriptions, products, photo prints and more. Fourthly, they have virtual doctor’s appointments through the app so you can get treated without leaving your couch. As you can see, the Walgreens app is game-changing for the pharmacy industry, as we all know how painful it can be to refill a prescription.
How to Use Omni-Channel Marketing For Your Business
You don’t have to be a massive corporation like Walgreens or Starbucks to adopt this marketing strategy with your own business. Creating a rewards program for your customers through a simple app will do the trick! Or, giving customers the ability to order products or check your stock from their phones will go far as well. When you are brainstorming ways to practice omni-channel marketing with your business, think about how you can be more digitally-focused and how you can make the lives of customers easier.