Omni-Channel marketing is not a new concept but the technological advancements in the previous two decades have changed what it means completely. Having a successful Omni-Channel marketing campaign can completely change the way your customers interact with your business. Companies that have been successful in running such campaigns have reaped huge rewards, and companies that are ignoring Omni-Channel marketing are rapidly losing customers.
Omni-Channel marketing means ensuring that your marketing campaign reaches the consumers on all the mediums of information they use. Previously, this meant putting our advertisements on television, radio, and newspapers/billboards, but these days, there are many new channels that people are consuming, and often companies end up skipping a lot of them.This is a huge mistake, and when your company ignores such mediums, it ends up losing customers. The secret of Omni-Channel marketing that makes it so successful is that it is based on how consumers make purchasing decisions nowadays.
The consumer buying decision process is simple. The first step is Need/Problem Recognition, then Information Search, then Alternative Evaluation, then Purchase Decision, and finally Post-Purchase Behavior. This was a simple process before we had the Internet and social media but it has been completely changed now. Here is how consumers purchase these days:
This is the first step, where people realise that they need to buy something. Nowadays, people spend all their day on social media, which makes it a fantastic place to make people recognise that you have a better product. The post purchase behaviour of other customers also matters a lot here, even though it is traditionally the last step of the process, because satisfied customers can post on social media and make other people realise they want to buy the same thing.
Information search has been totally changed. Now when people want to find out more about something, they instantly search for it online. People have been searching for information online for more than a decade, but what has changed in the previous few years is that people often search on social media before turning to traditional search engines. While Google (through Search Engine Optimisation or ‘SEO’ keywords) is still a great way to search about a new restaurant, searching for the same restaurant on Facebook yields a much better result for the consumer. They can see customer reviews and can even see if any of their personal friends have recommended the restaurant. People also often directly ask their friends through Twitter or Facebook about whether they should purchase something they are interested in.
Kids these days do not find it hard to evaluate alternatives. It used to be done through calling people you know who may know about the product, or comparing advertisements of other products. But now, you can simply compare reviews of the products, as you are even shown comparisons between what you are buying and alternatives on Amazon.com.
Purchase decisions depend a lot on how your stores are. It means that you have to make the shopping experience as convenient as possible to encourage such decisions. Companies that do not have an established presence online are seen as inconvenient and may end up losing many customers.
This has become more important than it has ever been. If there was a dissatisfied customer 15 years ago, they would have maybe complained to a few of their friends, and your company would lose a miniscule amount of sales. These days, bad customer experiences are posted on social media where they can go viral. A tweet from a dissatisfied customer can be seen by thousands of people, damaging your brand irreparably. A good response to complaints on social media can, on the other hand, end up benefitting your company by providing good exposure.
Omni-Channel marketing isn’t just a buzzword; it is something that has already been successful for many companies. How successful? Well, companies that do Omni-Channel marketing report a 42% increase in referrals.
In order to successfully run an Omni Channel Marketing strategy, you have to understand what people expect from your company in the age of digital media. Hybris Software, an SAP company, conducted extensive research that revealed the following consumer preferences:
71% of customers expect to be able to view your offerings online. They don’t want to make the trip to your store to find out what you are selling. 50% of them want to be able to pick the items they want online and just show up to pick up the items in store.
People expect the same branding and products across all channels. 69% of people do not like it when you have offers only present on a specific channel.
58% of consumers want information such as product size and specific measurements online. The lack of such information leads to them being confused about your products.
There is nothing better than loyal customers, as 80% of the sales of most companies come from just 20% of their most loyal customers. So make sure you reward your customers and keep them updated.
80% of consumers say that they would choose a brand that they followed on social media over a brand they did not follow. 80% is too much to ignore for any business in the world.
So go ahead and find your social media voice; something that represents your company and its products successfully. Remember that the omniscient nature of embracing Omni-channel will greatly enhance your customers experience and how they are able to interact with you. Omni-channel marketing has been proven to result in loyal customers and a loyal customer, in most cases, is a customer for life.