Seamless omni-channel marketing is wholly reliant on delivering a seamless experience to customers both on and offline. In fact, many user journeys begin online even if the resulting purchase happens offline. (The same can also be true in reverse, of course.)

Omni-channel marketing is not the same as multi-channel marketing!

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Source: National Retail Federation

When dealing with your business, customers expect a consistent experience, building trust and confidence in your brand. The ideal customer experience standardises messaging and support at every brand touchpoint – with a particular focus on making the transition from online to offline as smooth as possible.

Effective omni-channel marketing relies on knowing your target audience, and connecting with them in ways that are relevant to them. Advertising relevancy is nothing new, but the technologies at your disposal to connect with prospects and customers most certainly are.

The five businesses below have all taken very different, very effective steps towards omni-channel – the following examples will help inspire your own creative solutions moving forward.

Here are five brands that have nailed omni-channel marketing, and what you can learn from their experiences.

Hendrick’s Gin

What are they doing?

With established online and offline marketing activities, such as a travelling gin bus, to promote their brand, Hendricks were acutely aware that the two channels existed in isolation. So, they implemented a new web platform to unify experiences at every touchpoint for their customers, giving them greater insight into campaign performance.

How are they doing it?

A visually rich, multi-layered responsive website sits at the heart of Hendrick’s omni-channel strategy.

Advanced data capture technology makes it easy to know which customers are engaged with the site, and the live events. This helps Hendrick’s undertake a more holistic assessment of how their campaigns have performed, and it gives them more opportunities to connect with customers.

The backend also supports tailored sites for Spain, UK, US and one for the rest of the world – the content on each is unique, but the branding, messaging and experience is identical, strengthening the brand in the process.

Key lesson:

Make it easy for customers to gain a consistent experience your brand in person as well as online.

Tesco

What are they doing?

Competition in the grocery marketplace is fierce, and Tesco needed a way to maintain relevance in the apps-driven marketplace. Their position as a bricks-and-mortar supermarket is under constant threat from other retailers – and even Amazon as customers expect to be able to buy virtually every product and service online.

How are they doing it?

At the heart of Tesco’s omni-channel customer experience is a responsive website that optimises to the device – PC, smartphone, tablet – being used. This is augmented by several apps focused on specific services, like banking and mobile phones, in addition to one for grocery shopping.

Using the customer’s Clubcard account, user preferences and purchase history are synchronised across devices. Customers also have the option to build a shopping list to add and remove items whenever they choose. Finally, the list can be used in store, or converted to a home delivery order, making the shopping process easier for the customer.

Key lesson:

Synchronising customer data across channels makes the user experience seamless.

QVC

What are they doing? Pressure from online retailers could push a shopping channel retailer like QVC out of business. But the UK’s most famous shopping channel is actually consolidating continued domestic growth, and following an aggressive expansion plan in Italy, Japan, Germany, the US, and China. To combat the threat posed by pure-play online retailers, QVC has also been investing heavily in mobile sales channels.

How are they doing it?

Smartphone and tablet apps keep QVC’s customers engaged with the channel, even allowing them to watch shows on the move – key to keeping younger viewers connected. The apps allow customers to view products, read and submit reviews and to order and pay for goods.

The channel has also been working to increase social engagement, leveraging the community power of more than 1.3 million Facebook fans. Social media comments made by QVC customers are now displayed on screen, or read out on air by presenters, helping to strengthen the community and make viewers part of the programme.

Key lesson:

Real-time social media engagements can be amplified by re-using them in other channels – like broadcast TV.

Sky TV

What are they doing?

On demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime threaten the live broadcast industry, severely damaging Sky’s traditional business model. As well as commissioning more exclusive content, Sky have been re-evaluating the way they delivers programming, expanding their presence to literally anywhere via mobile devices.

How are they doing it?

Initially Sky efforts focused on keeping customers engaged with their smart boxes. The Sky+ app allows users to schedule recordings, or download content from the Sky Store using their mobile phones. This was followed by the Sky Go app, allowing subscribers to view content wherever and whenever they choose.

The latest innovation is SkyQ, a multi-room wireless viewing experience that uses wireless mini boxes to share content around the house. As well as real-time viewing, SkyQ also allows subscribers to download box sets and other content to their smartphones and tablets over WiFi. As you would expect from an omni-channel approach, branding, messaging and experience remains the same whether customers are accessing their Sky box or connecting via one of the apps.

Key lesson:

Technology can help established businesses change their service offering while maintaining consistency across every channel.

John Lewis

What are they doing?

Another firm under constant threat from Amazon, John Lewis has become one of the UK’s leading experts in omni-channel retailing. They maintain a process of continual improvement, focused entirely on delivering an exceptional customer experience at every touchpoint – online, offline and on the move via mobile apps.

How are they doing it?

John Lewis Christmas adverts have become legendary, thanks to the social and media buzz generated around each. This year the advert has broken out of the pure broadcast format, with an in-store virtual reality experience at the flagship John Lewis store in London. By wearing an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset customers can “be” one of the foxes in the advert; their hand motions then control the other animals that appear in the ad. For anyone unable to visit the store, there is a “low tech” 360º YouTube video that offers a similar experience.

The customer experience is enhanced for shoppers by a range of mobile apps tailored to specific interests – e.g. men’s fashion, technology, cooking – that provide useful editorial against specific product lines. A generalised app complements the John Lewis website, but creates value-add by allowing customers to use their phone as a smartcard and view receipts for all their previous transactions.

Key lesson:

By staying focused on delivering an exceptional customer experience across all channels, traditional brands can ward off modern competitors.

How can my brand improve its omni-channel marketing?

The first step to implementing a seamless omni-channel experience is to undertake a touchpoint analysis that accounts for every single point at which a prospective customer could experience your brand. This ranges from print ads to social channels, TV spots to direct mail, and many others as illustrated by the Brand Touchpoint Wheel below:

touchpoint wheel

Source: DLYohn

These touchpoints can then be linked to create an experience map, tracing each of the possible customer journeys from first exposure to sale and beyond. You should explore the frequency with which customers interact with each of your touchpoints, and identify those that are underutilised.

It is only by understanding the various customer journeys in this way that you can begin to create a coherent, seamless omni-channel marketing strategy that maintains consistency across each touchpoint.

To explore how your brand can optimise its omni-channel customer experience, please get in touch.

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