Omnichannel marketing is an ever-present challenge for e-commerce marketers tasked with delivering digital experiences that influence and convert. In today’s competitive market, online retailers must do everything they can to influence customers. Fortunately, the number of new channels used to reach consumers has exploded over the last couple of decades, thanks to the Internet and all things digital. Think not just stores, but also mobile apps, text message campaigns, social commerce, digital signage, Internet of Things (IoT), email—and the list goes on and on. With so many ways that consumers can shop today (and new ones cropping up all the time), it’s critical that retailers offer a consistent, synchronized experience across channels. One of the best ways to do that is to develop and implement a comprehensive omnichannel marketing strategy that engages consumers at each step of the buyer journey, particularly millennials who are digital natives and very comfortable with e-commerce.
In this e-book titled "How to Use Omnichannel Marketing to Drive E-commerce Revenues", we'll look at omnichannel marketing and what organizations can do to market more effectively to today’s consumer. We’ll see how technology can help solve the challenges of too many channels, too much content, and too little time. We’ll look at some of the channels available, delve into an innovative new approach known as Content-as-a-Service (CaaS) that supports an omnichannel audience (and digital strategy), and deliver ten top tips to supercharge your omnichannel strategy.
How Digital Strategy Drives Success
E-commerce, driven by multiple new channels, is a booming business. “The NRF expects that online retail will grow 8-12%, up to three times higher than the growth rate of the wider industry...For context, brick-and-mortar retail, which still comprises the vast majority of sales, is expected to grow at just 2.8%, slower than the average rate of growth for the overall industry.”[i] With e-commerce channels growing three times faster than the rest of the retail industry, racking up nearly $445 billion in sales, it’s clear that omnichannel e-commerce is a winning strategy. Regardless of whether your customers are shopping in store, on a website, via their mobile device, or through a catalog or social commerce, chances are you are thinking about how to give your shoppers a cohesive experience between physical and digital channels. An HBR study[ii] of 46,000 shoppers found that 73% of them shopped across multiple channels. The study showed that omnichannel customers loved using the retailer’s touchpoints, in all sorts of combinations and places.
Moreover, those customers spent more than single-channel customers, and spent more money when in the store. “Surprisingly, conducting prior online research on the retailer’s own site or sites of other retailers led to 13% greater in-store spending among omnichannel shoppers.”[iii] In addition, a recent Fluent survey found that “47% of shoppers who engage with retailers across 10 or more channels make purchases from their favorite retailer‘s website at least once a week, compared to just 21% for those who engage across one to four channels.”[iv]
Let’s look more closely at who is shopping online and the channels they are using.
Today’s Omnichannel Generation
Millennials are now the United States’ largest population segment, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. These digital natives are those people born between 1982 and 2003 and this generation is expected to represent one-third of all American adults by 2020. Millennials can be described as more tech-savvy and more mobile in their consumption of information than any generation before it. But they are not the only ones buying online. Consumers between 36 to 51 years of age have the highest average online transactions per year.[vi]
This pattern of omnichannel content consumption represents an immense opportunity for online retailers as well as a major challenge, given the number of channels available to reach these and other consumers. Compounding this challenge is the fact that channels and consumption patterns continue to evolve, making it hard to predict exactly the right combination that might influence behavior. In order to provide a relevant experience and win customer loyalty, what’s needed is the ability to personalize each customer interaction across any channel, anywhere. E-commerce companies that are winning with online audiences use cutting-edge technology to connect with customers, better understand their needs, and provide them with relevant, useful content when and where they want it—without overloading them with useless information.
From a technology perspective, that approach could include everything from mobile to Internet-enabled smart devices called the “Internet of Things” (IoT) to digital signage and other content, channels, and devices to create brand-relevant, useful experiences. Here is a brief overview of some of these technologies:
Don’t know the answer to something? Google it! Anywhere, anytime. That makes mobile devices
the number-one channel in which customers are starting, and often completing, their buyer journeys. In response, e-commerce companies have developed mobile apps, responsive mobile sites, interactive chat, text messaging campaigns, and online coupons and loyalty programs, among others things. Retailers are using mobile to track customer behavior and to know when that person has entered either a store’s (or its competitor’s) geofenced location. Smart marketers are using this information to trigger marketing events (think: personalized campaigns on SnapChat for example) to support and influence the customer behavior they want. Anything that saves time, rewards loyalty, and engages is seen as a positive—for example, location check-ins, rewards programs, and social recognition.
Retailers are realizing that digital signage can be a valuable aid in presenting targeted information. This is an opportunity for maximizing the right message at the right time, particularly as consumers stand in line waiting to check out. For example, promoting what’s on sale, store credit cards, discount coupons, ash sales, or upcoming holiday specials. What’s different today is that digital signage is not just being used to promote but also to educate and support the relationship between the store and its customers. Better informed customers are typically more satisfied, and digital signage has an important role to play in this.
The Internet of Things
Much of the value in the Internet of Things for the e-commerce sector comes from the data gathered. For example proximity-based marketing using beacons (wireless sensors in the physical world that share proximity information with mobile apps or other IoT devices) and digital signage together can individualize messaging and maximize its impact, creating a more compelling experience and driving loyalty.
One way to leverage the IoT for this audience is to put a beacon on a digital sign that recognizes
the consumer, prompts a message on their mobile device, such as a text message or an alert in a mobile app. The beacon’s recognition of the consumer can also trigger a change of the information on the digital sign itself, customizing the message to that individual.
Using this technology to increase the relevancy of marketing programs by personalizing the message to the individual level has been shown to increase engagement and makes consumers 20 times more likely to buy. This usage also gives retailers in-depth data on what works and what doesn’t in order to maximize future success.
The use of social media is a quickly evolving phenomenon. While Facebook used to be all the rage, newer apps like Snapchat and Instagram are taking its place. What’s important here is to be able to keep up with new channels, including social, as they arise. The problem becomes message consistency across so many channels. Savvy consumers can quickly tell if messages and digital experiences are inconsistent. Only by consolidating customer data and content from various data silos into a central repository can online retailers ensure consistent omnichannel digital experiences.
Putting it All Together: The Art of the Possible
As consumers use these new channels, they are generating huge amounts of data, and retailers are finding ways to leverage that information to deliver better targeted content and digital experiences. In fact, combining clickstream data from websites with social analytics, email analytics, IoT data, and mobile analytics, among other sources, can pave the way for experiences simply not possible just a few years ago. With this data, online retailers can now deliver personalized content tailored specifically for a customer’s unique buying habits via any number of channels. By offering content tailored to consumers’ interests, you’ll do a better job of attracting and retaining their attention, improving two-way communication and ultimately boosting sales and gaining loyalty. Tapping into mouse-click gold should be easy as you build clear, accurate profiles to effectively segment your audience and deliver what Google calls “micro-moments of influence”— intent rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped—regardless of channel or device. (e-Spirit has produced a white paper on this topic, which you can read here.)
Retailers can also turn content into revenues by streamlining its delivery to and from any device, channel, or application for faster time to market, including delivering content to any ‘thing’ in the Internet of Things, pulling content from third parties, upselling products and services, and developing new content-driven products. For example:
- E-tailers can pull content from third-party websites or manufacturers to their own digital stores
- Kitchen stores can guide location-based app users to bridal shower registry items while in- store, and offer point-of-sale discounts via digital signage for other items of interest based on persona
- Advertisers can deliver targeted content in the form of text or video to smart devices
The goal here is the perfect intersection of communication and consumer intent so what gets delivered is the right message at the right time in the right way to the right consumer to support a call to action.
The right digital experience technology will help online retailers to influence consumer behavior in real time through personalized, content-driven digital experiences powered by huge united data sets.