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In the Press: Chain Store Age; Emergence of Omnichannel Marketing

Posted by Tracy Sloger on 10/29/14 2:35 PM

From Chain Store Age_MG_9889_0157-771098-edited, October 2014

The role of “marketer” is not as simple as it used to be. Outbound and inbound methods are constantly evolving as traditional marketing efforts become more complex, and newer digital tactics are implemented and maintained at breathtaking speeds. Omnichannel marketing, while still a buzzword for some, is becoming more real for many. 
 
While most of us acknowledge the obvious benefits of coordinating marketing efforts through multiple channels, there is still some question as to what omnichannel marketing is and how it can be integrated into traditional marketing efforts for stores and sales groups with hyper-local audiences. While it is true that digital and social marketing provide multiple channels and means for engagement as well as execution, there are still many traditional marketing roles within an omnichannel marketing campaign for you to consider.
 
So what is omnichannel marketing? Omnichannel provides a seamless approach for consumer engagement with brands, allowing them to experience the product or services, rather than just make a one-time purchasing decision. Now more than ever, customers and clients are touched through various marketing vehicles, all of which either possess or lead to a call to action that not only results in a purchasing decision, but in future purchases, engagements, and referrals. 
 
Below are some areas to focus on when discussing and implementing an omnichannel strategy.
 
Consumer Experience
 
Omnichannel marketing should be considered a tactic to improve the consumer experience and keep them returning to the brand, product, or service. As many marketers know, influence and engagement are considered cornerstones of any marketing strategy, and that certainly includes omnichannel, which is centered upon making the user experience not only positive, but also seamless. All channels, while very different and with multiple objectives, point to the same end-result of improving a consumer or client’s brand perception.  
 
There are many avenues to enhance user experience and educate them on your brand. While purchases may be made in-store, a mobile app can provide the customer with a background on the product, or even something as simple as store hours. Social media can share promotions and help you get on the radar of those who are unfamiliar with your brand. 
 
Television commercials can generate phone calls, which lead to meetings and new clients. It is equally important for stores to support their outbound marketing efforts at a brick and mortar level. For example, during a promotion, the store or sales professional must comply by making that featured product or service readily available. If there is a disconnect between the marketing or advertising efforts and the product or service offered, the brand will quickly lose credibility with its respective audience moving forward. 
 
It should surprise no one that 73% of individuals think brands pay more attention to generating sales across multiple channels than they do providing a positive customer service experience. With that being said, only 7% are “extremely satisfied” that brands provide a seamless, integrated, and consistent customer service experience across channels. These numbers speak volumes and correlate very well with retailers, of which only 6% report no barriers to becoming an integrated, omnichannel company.
 
Physical Collateral Matters, Too
 
With so much focus on digital and social media, it can often be forgotten how effective physical collateral can actually be. 
 
From an omnichannel standpoint, traditional marketing tactics such as direct mail can be used to influence a customer or client to make a purchasing decision in a store, online, or by making a phone call. It can also entice an individual to reach out and set up a meeting, “like” a page on Facebook, “scan a QR code” for more information or share a customer experience with friend or family. 
 
There are several crucial, yet occasionally under-emphasized, physical marketing initiatives, such as in-store point of sale items and employee training materials, which are quite impactful when utilized correctly. 
 
For example, should a retail store or sales office pursue a promotional opportunity, their staff and salespersons need to be cognizant of that effort in order to complete the conversion. This can include making sure they have received the proper training materials, or ensuring that in-store signage is visible to the customer or client to fully represent the opportunity. Anything less is a waste of enterprise marketing dollars, and can deter the interested customer or client from making future purchases, or worse, have a negative perception of the brand and abandoning it altogether.
 
Measurement
 
It should come as no surprise to any marketer that measurement and reporting is crucial to championing omnichannel in your organization. Sales, conversions, expenses, and other forms of traditional reporting are all very important, yes, but when measuring omnichannel, more depth is required. Engagement, for example, becomes a key aspect of measurement. Measurement can include interactions using social media, bounce rates on the website, in-store traffic, calls to a rep, sales of the product and other tools to see how a brand is performing.  
 
Speed matters too. How quickly can a customer work through the sales process after clicking on an advertisement? What’s the turnaround time in a sales cycle for a conference in which a sales rep attended and handed out literature? These are key details to understanding how all facets of your marketing strategy through different channels are performing.
 
Measurement identifies what methods to pursue in the future. For example, if a campaign was an overall success, but a certain channel, such as direct mail, isn’t working, that can be eliminated or tweaked to improve for the same seasonal occurrence or marketing opportunity next year. It provides marketing leadership with the reason to make or not make decision that would ultimately incur expenses without generating results.
 
The Big Picture.
 
In 2014, the engagement and integration of the customer experience is becoming more important than ever.  It’s crucial to find new and innovative marketing approaches that best suit your customer needs. By designing and implementing an omnichannel approach, marketers can win by incorporating new and old marketing techniques to better engage, and ultimately convert, customers and clients into sales.
 
Tracy Sloger is CMO of DataSource, a managed marketing services provider. She can be reached at marketing@data-source.com.

Topics: Omni-Channel Marketing, brand supply chain, integrated marketing

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