To anyone who doesn’t have ‘marketing’ in their job title, omnichannel can feel like another jargony word that means.. well.. not much at all.
And then you’ve got the added complexity of wondering what the difference is between integrated and omnichannel marketing. The answer is – not a lot on the face of it but quite a lot under the surface. And the differences are definitely worth noting.
It's hard for small businesses to know exactly how they can move their marketing forward and keep up with the demands of the 21st Century consumer. This blog post looks at omnichannel marketing. What it means and how small and medium sized businesses benefit from it.
Let’s break it down further.
Integrated marketing relates to the way you communicate your brand story across multiple channels so that it’s consistent and compelling. It’s not necessarily the strategy you lay out at the beginning of the process. It’s more about ensuring everything ties together across your paid, owned, and earned channels. From your website - to your social media pages - to your PR activity. It should all come together seamlessly to give people clarity on what you stand for and what you have to offer.
Depending on your budget, this would be a mix of online and offline marketing and advertising. Or you may be investing solely in digital marketing because that's the most effective way to connect with your target audience and convert them into customers.
Integrated marketing requires measurement but the nuance here is that you are measuring the performance of each channel on your marketing plan. You need to have tracking in place, a way to consolidate learnings and make informed decisions, but the focus is on the strength of the channel rather than the customer journey. It's worth noting that your messaging, visual branding, and creative approach - all play a role in the success of the individual channel performance and your overall objectives.
Omnichannel is about considering the customer journey and optimising the brand experience across all touchpoints – including brick-and-mortar locations, events, mobile and online. It requires data and technology, there’s no doubt that. But that shouldn’t be a daunting prospect. Yes, you will need to review your in-house capabilities and adopt new technology if the infrastructure isn’t there. But there are so many CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools out there now, each with different functionalities to suit your business needs, with varying price tags. You don’t have to be a global enterprise to get this right!
With the use of technology, you can store customer and prospect data, track customer interactions and start to build relationships. It enables you to harness every opportunity and provide a personalised brand experience that we, as humans living in the 21st Century, now expect. Not only does omnichannel make your marketing communications more targeted and personal, but it also enables you to use data more effectively and in turn deliver a better ROI.
So.. integrated and omnichannel marketing are similar in many ways. In fact, we’d say you can’t have an omnichannel strategy that isn’t integrated! But you could have an integrated approach that isn’t omnichannel. Time for a drink I think.
The thing to consider is that people will want to interact with your brand in multiple ways and by taking an omnichannel approach, you can enhance the experience and give them what they want. People expect your marketing communications to reflect up-to-date knowledge of their preferences, interactions, and purchases. Omnichannel delivers on this demand by helping brands present a consistent, informed message that offers a seamless experience through multiple channels; which helps to build positive perceptions, customer loyalty, and retention.
This article was written by Candace Gerlach, Marketing Coordinator at the BID and Founder of The Conscious Marketing Group