Why Omni-Channel Marketing Is Less about Channels and More about Customers

December 11, 2018 Ginna Hall

Omni-channel marketing means connecting with your customer at any time and anywhere he or she may be. Increasingly, that’s online.

Today, 4 billion people (53% of the global population) connect to the internet, and nearly all of them (92.6%) use their mobile devices to do so. 85% of users (3.4 billion) hop online every day and spend, on average, six and a half hours there.

Consumers are spending more time, with increasing frequency, on an expanding range of digital activities. 73% of consumers shop through multiple channels, according to the Harvard Business Review—and in one year, the total number of omni-channel shoppers has increased 4x. Surprisingly, omnichannel shoppers are also more loyal to retailers, logging 23% more return visits.

Access to the internet, mobile technology and digital innovation have redefined consumers’ every interaction and will continue to enable and disrupt many aspects of consumers’ lifestyles well into the future. Nielsen’s Connected Commerce report digs deeply into these trends and others, shedding light on how companies can adapt in the era of empowered consumers.

The Evolving Customer Journey

Over the past twenty years, the customer journey has expanded from a simple funnel to a tangled path that crosses from online to offline and back again. Now more than ever, brick-and-mortar and e-commerce transactions are intertwined along the path to purchase.

Forward-looking brands are embracing digital options and building truly omni-channel strategies. Simply put, omni-channel is actually less about the channels and more about your prospects and customers — their habits, behavior, interests and preferences.

A successful omni-channel strategy requires the ability to reach customers across platforms and devices with connected, relevant and personalized messaging. Savvy marketers know that the first step of omni-channel is identifying your target audience and learning how and where they’re looking and listening for information. Only then can you select the best channels to reach them.

Connecting Real-World Touchpoints

To engage today’s connected consumer, mobile, desktop and real-world touchpoints must work together to build brand awareness and drive demand generation. In this scenario, each channel can potentially command equal influence on a purchase.

As reported in AdAge:

  • Shoppers will use smartphones in over one-third of total U.S. retail sales in 2018 for researching, comparing prices and purchasing.
  • 88% of consumers research their purchases online before buying, whether it's online or in-store.
  • 65% compare the in-store price with the online price while in the store.
  • Shoppers who use multiple channels to conduct product research spend 14% more than single-channel shoppers.

These statistics show why an omni-channel strategy is critical to any organization. While consumers may be in the driver’s seat, brands can also benefit from the opportunities offered by new platforms.

But to be successful, brands must deconstruct marketing silos and set aside preconceptions that previously divided digital strategies from each other and from offline tactics. Sustained growth will come from taking advantage of converged channels, touchpoints and experiences along the path to purchase.

Insights into the Connected Consumer

Nielsen's Connected Commerce report provides insights into the global connected consumer that brand’s can use to enhance shopping experiences in the digital world. The report is based on a survey conducted in May 2018 of more than 30,000 online consumers in 64 countries throughout Asia- Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa and North America.

>> Download your copy of the Connected Commerce report <<

Nielsen reports that around the globe, the number of consumers who are connected and making online purchases will continue to multiply every year as newly connected consumers enter the online retail environment. Here are just a few of the report’s findings:

  • Global online sales in 2017 totaled US $2.3 trillion or 10.2% of total retail sales and is expected to reach 17.5% by 2021.
  • Consumers indicate that they are purchasing entertainment (61%) and services (56%) categories more often online than in- store.
  • 52% of consumers visit store websites for fashion product discovery, 44% visit brand websites for consumer electronics.
  • Nearly one third, across categories, read online written reviews and more than a quarter go to social media.
  • Globally, 31% of consumers are already using online for home delivery, and a further 33% are willing to do so.

As consumers gain confidence in purchasing online, shopper penetration, volume and frequency of online purchases have continued to grow, and the relationship between online and in-store shopping has started to shift in favor of online activity for more mature categories.

Consumers’ first foray into connected commerce may not be to make a purchase, but to browse for information, compare products and prices and discover new stores or items of interest. They may click on an attention-grabbing ad to view what’s on offer or read reviews in social media that may prompt a purchase.

Brands that position themselves to compete in this landscape will build a consistent presence across channels and identify key moments to inject triggers into consumers’ online activities. They will create digital media assets to build awareness and consideration, satisfying shoppers’ search needs and delivering tangible links to generate purchase outcomes. This individualized, personal, relevant content across all touchpoints will lead to conversions and growth.

Nielsen reports that convenience is one of the primary motivators for connected commerce. Shoppers are looking for a frictionless experience which saves time, reduces obstacles and provides an enjoyable experience. As e-commerce continues to evolve, brands must improve consumers’ overall online experience to encourage conversions.

Understanding Every Touchpoint

These dramatic changes have proved disruptive to traditional approaches. The transformation of the customer-brand relationship will require the smart use of data, technology and marketing tactics.

To truly understand the value of each consumer interaction in an omni-channel world, it’s not enough to count impressions, eyeballs or measure the effectiveness of your digital marketing using the consumer’s last interaction with your brand (i.e. last-touch metrics). You need to know the effectiveness of each marketing touchpoint in every consumer journey regardless of where those touchpoints occur.

Managing marketing and advertising using channel-specific strategies, tactics and metrics is no longer effective. A consumer’s interactions with a brand can quickly add up to dozens or even hundreds of interactions. And what about actionable insights?

Without the ability to track the consumer journey and tie interactions across channels and devices to one user, it’s virtually impossible to know which marketing initiatives are working and which ones aren’t.

Uniting Attribute and Performance Data

Marketers need to adopt a people-based approach if they want deeper insight into how to best reach consumers. People-based marketing represents an industry shift from cookies to persistent IDs that can provide offer greater insights into an individual consumer’s interests, affinities and cross-device/cross-channel habits, without duplication.

You need a solution that combines the power of people-based insight with multi-touch attribution, so you can understand consumer attributes and preferences and how different audiences interact with your brand across all channels and devices.

When you combine consumer profile data with tactical marketing performance data you see a consolidated view of every marketing interaction that leads to a successful outcome. Instead of drowning in a sea of siloed data, you gain real-time insight into the marketing tactics and messages that influence specific audiences.

Choose a solution that helps you thrive in an omni-channel world, so you can maximize your budget and create relevant and personalized experiences that drive results.

Learn More

To learn how to connect your best-performing marketing with the people who matter most, download our ebrief: Reaching the Consumers Who Matter Most: A Q&A with Forrester’s Susan Bidel

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