In many ultra-competitive markets and industries, and particularly for large enterprises, omnichannel is no longer a remote, vague idea, or a “nice-to-have” – it’s a crucial strategy for survival.
Today, diverse buyers demand access to multichannel communication modes, including in-person, remote and digital self-service options. According to research released by McKinsey & Company, “roughly two in three buyers prefer remote human interaction or digital self-service.”
An average of four out of five business leaders working in B2B industries see omnichannel selling as an improvement to the traditional, in-person-only approach, leading to more effective prospecting and greater success in closing new business.
Omnichannel: a critical fixture for B2B globally
The above mentioned McKinsey research on B2B decision-makers confirms that “omnichannel is not simply a trend, nor a pandemic workaround – rather, it is a critically important fixture for B2B sales globally.”
As many as 93% of shoppers are researching purchases online before making a purchase. (Google/Ipsos, Global Retail Study, Feb. 2019). And, did you know that omnichannel strategies drive an 80% higher rate of incremental store visits? (Google Internal Data, Jan.–Dec. 2017). In addition, companies with the strongest omnichannel strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared with 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies (Aberdeen Group).
What is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel marketing seamlessly integrates the different communication channels where customers communicate with a brand. Each channel works together to create a unified message, voice and brand for your company. This approach creates a more consistent user experience overall.
For example, a customer should be able to click on a Facebook ad on their phone, browse your website, add a few products to their cart, then come back later whilst on their laptop (with the products already automatically added to their cart) and complete the purchase easily.
What’s the difference between multichannel and omnichannel?
In multichannel marketing, the user has access to multiple communication channels that are not necessarily synchronized or connected. Comparatively, in an omnichannel experience, the multiple channels are always connected so the user can transition between them seamlessly.
All omnichannel experiences use multiple channels, but not all multichannel experiences are omnichannel.
Why use omnichannel marketing?
People like things to be straightforward. Omnichannel marketing offers a smooth buying experience from start to finish. In a survey, 87% of retail leaders agreed that an omnichannel strategy is critical or very important to business success (Research Live).
1. More sales and higher spend per customer
Customers spend more when they have an omnichannel experience. Omnichannel customers spend 4% more in store and 10% more online than single-channel customers. With every additional channel they use, customers spend more money in store (Harvard Business Review).
2. Become a stronger, more competitive brand by creating a personalized experience
It’s tough out there. With a fiercely competitive market, fickle customers and a plethora of distractions, how do you stay relevant? With omnichannel marketing, your brand stays relevant even in an aggressive and crowded market.
You really need to connect with your customers and provide a personalized experience based on their previous digital behavior. The devil's in the detail, as they say – people trust brands that are consistent and that pay attention to the small things that matter to the customer, such as what they have purchased before, what information they might be interested in next, where they are in their customer journey, and even recognizing their birthday.
3. Better data and integrated marketing analytics
When using a multichannel approach, marketing analytics from each channel are stored in silos. The data from one channel doesn’t interact with or influence the actions of the other channels. Since omnichannel marketing brings all your marketing and sales channels together, it combines your data, allowing you to get a more strategic view. As a result, you can collect and consolidate customer data from various channels and get valuable customer insights.
You’re not only able to analyze your customer behavior, but you can also get more in-depth information about each individual's interests and purchase intent. Thus, you can better design your campaigns in the future, identify the best way to meet customer needs and implement more holistic marketing strategies.
For example, if a customer has already bought a leather jacket, an ad about the same product will just annoy them. Next then, you can move on to cross-selling with ads for boots, jeans or leather care.
4. Improved sales-enablement strategies
So, marketers use omnichannel to create continuity within the customer experience – but, the term omnichannel doesn’t stop at marketing alone. Ensuring cohesion in your sales channels requires an omnichannel approach, too.
For example, do your sales people know what the buyer has seen and experienced previously? Can they anticipate any questions the customer may have, and are they prepared to answer them?
During a customer’s purchase journey, having a satisfactory and consistent experience with the sales team, the website chat-bot or any sales content they interact with on the website, will ultimately drive a positive user experience and should be a part of your omnichannel strategy.
5. Give your B2B buyers what they want
Omnichannel may seem like a purely B2C tactic, but this is not so. Research from McKinsey shows that omnichannel is an important component for B2B sales globally. Approximately 2/3 of B2B buyers prefer remote human interactions or digital self-service in the B2B space.
As many as eight in ten global B2B leaders say that omnichannel is as or more effective than traditional methods. In fact, the hybrid sales rep will soon become the most common sales role. 64% of B2B companies intend to increase the number of hybrid sellers in the near future, making the hybrid model (sales reps who interact with customers via video, phone, apps and occasional in-person visits) the most common sales role, according to the same study (McKinsey).
In summary: Consumers today are expecting a seamless customer experience across all the channels in which they interact with your brand. And if you can’t deliver that, you’re losing out on valuable sales – every single minute.
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