If we were shopping fifteen years ago, the most sought after way to shop would’ve been to drive to the retail store, pick up the item and head home. That was, at best, the most amount of touch points between a customer and a brand. Cut to today, with the help of internet and technology, businesses have been able to crack the code of seamless brand experiences for customers that reduce their effort and increase their connectivity with a brand. This seemingly amazing strategy is called providing an omni-channel brand experience.
Breaking down omni-channel experience to basics
Omni-channel brand experience is an approach to marketing, selling and serving customers with a multi-channel approach that creates a cohesive and integrated customer experience, no matter where or how a customer reaches out. For instance, if you go to your favourite retail brand’s outlet and can scan an item present at the store using their app’s QR code to find it online for a better deal or save the product for later, that is a facet of an omnichannel brand experience. Add to that, marketing tools like engaging and targeted social media campaigns and some amazing UX on web and mobile. The essence of an omni-channel brand experience lies in working together as a unit for a customer, so they get a seamless experience regardless of what channels and platforms are being used.
About 90% people today switch between 3 tech products to complete a purchase. This means that if a business wants to keep up with a consumer’s behaviour, the brand has to stay top of mind recall and probably follow them from one channel to the next.
While all businesses invest in multiple marketing platforms like a website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, billboards, in most cases the customer still lacks a completely seamless experience and a consistent messaging across channels. An omnichannel experience, on the other hand, accounts for each platform, device and ATL campaign to interact with the customer. Companies can use omni-channel marketing to relay their goals, key communication and design through various devices and platforms.
An ideal example of this strategy will be:
Ms. A visits a retail store and browses products. She then scans the product using the OR code scanner available on the retail store’s app that give her the product description along with similar suggestions. She adds the product into her wishlist and leaves for home to purchase it later.
Ms. B visits an offline beauty store and purchases a lipstick. She gets notified about the availability of similar products on the app.
These are a few examples of brands around you using omnichannel marketing to create seamless customer brand experiences.
Among several businesses today, a brand that uses the perks of omnichannel marketing is the beauty giant, Sephora. They connect their shoppers’ online purchases to their in-store visits. Customers can use in-store tablets to access their “Beauty Bag’ account while shopping and by integrating the bag feature with its in-store communication, the brand is able to help customers pick options and keep a track of products. Similar experiences can be found in H&M and Nykaa.
What does it entail to implement such a brand marketing experience?
Implementing an omni-channel experience needs every business to adapt a unique infrastructure based on the key objectives that they want the customers to experience. While building such a program, it is imperative for any business to look at their product, marketing strategy, strength of sales and customer support units along with consistency of the branding.
Product – The core of any business in the product that they choose to put out in the market. This product market fit is what makes a company’s success ratio higher. To be able to implement an omni-channel brand experience, a business needs to first gauge what product and what key messaging about it are they trying to communicate.
Marketing Strategy – Next comes to marketing strategy to ensure their communication message about the product reaches the right audience and they perceive it exactly the way it was intended to be.
Sales unit and customer support – An adept sales unit is paramount for any business getting into omni-channel branding and a good brand is often affable among customers because of their quick feedback and readiness to help. Whether it is a brick and mortar store or a backend support team of a website, the sales and customer support teams must be strong to manage the requests from a plethora of platforms.
Consistency is key – As customers jump from one channel to the next, they will look for consistency to draw back to your brand or product. It is important to maintain the same personality and tone of voice across channels – be it a blog, social media or in-store branding. Other factors to keep in mind are the specific colour schemes and logos that are being used. A coherent and consistent visual identity is paramount.
Take Starbucks for instance: With the onset of autumn, the branding, colour palette, products and experience is the same across all channels – be it their website, mobile app, their in-store branding or outdoor advertising. This seamless across channels enables customers to understand their communication and goals better.
Once all of the above elements are aligned, businesses can transition to this model and create a dent in the marketing segment as omni-channel branding is still a relatively new phenomenon. This seamless brand experience should be initiated by businesses to eliminate effort from the customer experience. It inter-related every channel to engage holistically which eventually results in a strong relationship between consumers and the brand. In fact, companies with well-defined omnichannel customer experience strategies achieve a 91% higher year-on-year increase in consumer retention rate. With lines blurring between real and virtual world, brands and marketers need to start delivering holistic experiences, and that is the future of marketing.
Hiren Panchal is the co-founder of Litmus Branding, India’s growing Advertising and Digital Branding Agency. He has a strong, multi-faced experience of 22 years in the areas of branding, advertising, marketing, designing and project management. With sound expertise in brand establishment, he has helped strengthen the brand assets for clients like Coca Cola, Payson Petroleum, India Institute of Management (IIM) Udaipur, Haldiram's, Sabi Foods, Almeer Saudi, IRU, and many more.