Imagine a bike wheel.

What do you see? Rubber around the rim. Spokes that connect to the inner hub. Everything else rotates around and is supported by this central hub.

If you’re a multi-channel marketer, you’re used to thinking of your brand as the center of the wheel. You communicate to customers on the outside of the wheel. Spokes are channels to share your messaging.

But each spoke only attaches to a certain part of the wheel. As a result, your marketing initiatives often fail to reach your whole audience.

Omni-channel marketers succeed because they understand that the customers – not the brand – are the core of any business. By positioning the customer at the center of the marketing hub, omni-channel marketing strategies deliver personalized conversations via any of the interconnected channels along the wheelbase.

What Exactly Is Omni-Channel Marketing?

Customers want a hands-on approach. Why? We like to feel listened to and important. Swarmed by ads and offers, today’s consumers align their time and dollars with brands that treat them well and share their values.

“Interpersonal relationships are ingrained so deeply into our social fabric that a customer will view your entire brand as a singular relationship … [omni-channel] ensures that customers receive a personalized conversation with your brand.”

– Darr Gersovich, VP of Marketing at Ensighten

Omni-channel marketing acknowledges that consumers have ready access to information and will move between devices and channels during the buyer journey. Omni-channel gives your audience a totally integrated and consistent brand experience, which elevates the best brands from the rest.

Whether you’re trying to convert, retain, or sell, omni-channel marketing allows you to develop and sustain meaningful and profitable customer relationships in a hands-off way.

The benefit to the customer is clear, but what about to the business?

Research shows companies that prioritize the customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors. Marketers know that delivering the right message at the right time to the right person is the holy grail.

After all, well-nurtured prospects become happy customers. Happy customers remain loyal. Loyal customers make referrals and can be worth up to 10x their first purchase.

Keep reading to learn the seven key steps to implementing an omni-channel strategy that will help you streamline your marketing and sales funnel, retain your best customers, and drive your ROI to new heights – all without reinventing the wheel.

1) Create Buyer Personas

For insights on what delights and displeases your audience, first create customer identities. Accounting for buying habits, preferences, and behaviors across channels allows you to create rich personas.

What is the purchase frequency? How are purchases made? Where is traffic coming from?

If you understand the various types of buyer’s journeys that your customers go through, you can create a premium customer experience.

Slip into your audience’s shoes and walk through your brand experience with fresh eyes. File a customer support claim. Order a product from a landing page.

Gather data first, then set out to ensure a frictionless user experience, starting with the channels favored by your users.

2) Segment Your Audience

Once you’ve uncovered who’s buying what in which way, segment your audience for maximum impact.

CRM and marketing automation platforms will automatically segment your contacts based on the personas you’ve created as well as any other behavioral or demographic markers you choose. You decide how you want to divide your audience, and the technology will do the rest.

Once you know exactly who you’re talking to, you can begin to personalize your messaging. 74% of consumers get frustrated when they receive content that has nothing to do with their interests. To provide a top-tier experience and drive high ROI from your marketing, segment your lists and target accordingly.

3) Align Content With Specific Buyer Journeys

Each buyer’s journey is different and should receive individual attention. Companies that align their content strategies with customers’ behavioral habits are able to enhance the customer experience and optimize conversions.

For example, Amazon gets personal with customers across email, social, Amazon Prime, Dash Button, Echo and beyond. Above we see a cart abandonment email that alludes to a previous intent to buy and then offers the customer an opportunity to complete their purchase.

These behaviorally triggered emails succeed because they’re written on a first-name basis and they reference a particular item. This 1:1 messaging approach makes it much more likely that the recipient will complete the purchase and stay engaged.

4) Prioritize Channels and Devices

80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts, right? Double down on the channels and devices your customers prefer, and invest in their experiences.

The best way to identify what’s working is to listen to what your audience is saying across channels. Social monitoring and marketing automation analytics will show you where your time and efforts can be best spent.

Starbucks provides a great example of this. To appeal to the youth market, the premium coffee retailer added a rewards app to its omni-channel presence. Users can manage rewards, share with friends, purchase for pickup – and everything is updated instantly in their accounts.

By recognizing that its customers have gone digital, Starbucks has been able to improve its brand experience, cement loyalties and expand its market, all simultaneously.

5) Invest in Customer Support

A few revealing statistics about the importance of customer support:

  • 54% of millennials will stop doing business because of poor customer service. 50% of Gen Xers and 52% of baby boomers say the same. – Conversion
  • 67% of customers mention bad customer service experiences as a reason for churn, yet only 1 of 26 unhappy customers complain. – Kolsky
  • 77% of people say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service. – Forrester Research

Customer service is a cornerstone of omni-channel success, so tune into what’s being said to the support teams. Instead of aiming solely for conversion, consider that a typical customer lifecycle includes support.

When done well, quality service reinforces brand loyalty, while also predicting referrals and recurring revenues.

6) Measure Your Efforts

“We can now measure success in terms of the response of real people over time, in addition to measuring individual campaigns. We have enough data at the customer level to see how she interacts both online and in the store, so we can tailor messaging and offers to her appropriately by channel. We strive to balance the use of customer data to inform content relevancy with the use of consumer insights to ensure that the relevancy is coupled with a sense of discovery and inspiration.”

– Julie Bernard, Macy’s

Analyzing the effectiveness of so many channels is where most brands falter. That’s why it’s important to create a measurement strategy built around metrics, behavioral tracking, and comprehensive analytics reports.

A truly effective omni-channel strategy isn’t overwhelmed by cross-channel data. Rather, it enables you to get clear visibility on all of your initiatives, and it turns customer behavior and feedback into insights that you can act on.

7) Integrate Your Findings

This last step is what will make your omni-channel strategies truly effective: interweave your insights throughout your campaigns to create that often-discussed (but rarely realized) “seamless” experience.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Does my social strategy support my web strategy?
  • Does my email strategy support my social strategy?
  • Does my web strategy support my mobile strategy?

When all channels are taking cues from one another, the customer experience becomes next-level. With rich personas, you can send truly targeted messages that will resonate with your audiences and provide and integrated, unforgettable experience.

And by leveraging all of the data you’ve worked so hard to collect, you can make constant improvements to ensure your omni-channel strategy is driving real results.

Moving Forward

Providing a seamless customer experience is how leading brands are giving the old adage – “the customer is always right” – new legs for the digital era.

Empowered with cross-channel integrations, the modern marketer can selectively engage their audience in a precise, value-driven way. Truly aligned marketing initiatives result in customer retention, brand loyalty, and revenues derived from higher customer lifetime values.

Isabel Hasty
Isabel Hasty
Isabel Hasty writes and edits case studies to share client success stories and industry trends. She produces a variety of lead-generation content, including white papers, blogs, infographics, and thought leadership articles.