The world is changing rapidly, and so are our ways to receive information. Modern buyers want the companies to communicate with them on their own terms: when and where the buyers want it, without being too intrusive and annoying. This can be achieved with a number of different marketing strategies: multi-channel, omni-channel, cross-device, and cross-channel marketing. The terms sound similar and are indeed similar. However, there are some differences marketing professionals should keep in mind.
What is multichannel marketing?
Multi-channel marketing has been one of the most frequently discussed trends in the past few years. It’s also one of the most heavily used marketing strategies.
The name speaks for itself: multi-channel marketing strategy is really all about using a number of channels to communicate with a target buyer: websites, digital ads, social media networks, email, mobile, or any other channel chosen by your customers and prospects. Likewise, multi-channel retailing would give your customers a choice of ways to buy products — such as, your website, brick-n-mortar stores, marketplaces and social media messengers.
However, a company implementing the multi-channel marketing approach doesn’t necessarily have to use each and every communication channel available in today’s digital world. There are too many of them and, while you can try and include them all, it would be much better to set your priorities and pick the most appropriate marketing channels during the planning stage. It’s always a better option to focus on the marketing channels that are the most familiar and frequently used by your target audience.
Examples of multichannel marketing approach to promo campaigns
What are the most frequently used digital marketing channels? For a while, it has been email campaigns and browser push notifications. Both of these channels are successfully used not only for one-time promotions but for triggered messages as well. Furthermore, it’s much easier to create a push notification than to write an email: all you need to do is to come up with a headline, one-sentence text, an image, and a strong call to action.
No wonder that web push notifications have now become so popular, being so easy to work with.
Use case: how to use emails and push notifications in promo campaigns
How exactly does this kind of multi-marketing channel strategy work in retail and other e-commerce industries? Take a look at how Gold24, an online store for gold jewelry, sends out push notifications after every email. It’s one of the best examples of multi-channel marketing strategy.
Here’s what using this strategy helps you to achieve:
Boost the number of customer interactions. If a customer subscribes both to emails and to push notifications, they will see the promotional offer twice and will be more likely to react to it.
Boost the audience’s reach. Some of your email subscribers don’t receive your browser push notifications and vice versa. If you use both these channels to send messages, you increase the chances of getting them seen by a bigger number of people who are potentially interested in your products or services.
Boost website traffic. Those who receive your message will very likely click-through to a promo page both from an email and from a push notification.
Boost transactions. From our experience, emails perform better for sales. That said, push notifications can also boost sales. Even if this channel brings in only 10% of the customers an email would drive, there’s still no reason to give up on this channel.
Thanks to all these advantages, multichannel marketing strategies are often used for promo campaigns.
What are the flaws of web push notifications? How can you overcome them?
Web push notifications have one significant disadvantage: the web push subscription token you get from opt-in users can become invalid at any moment. What if a customer visits your website from a different device or on a different browser? What if they clear cookies? In any of these cases they won’t receive your web push notifications. Moreover, in the latter case, their subscription token will stay around in your database despite being inactive. It might take up to three months for a web push token database to be updated.
Multichannel marketing, by its definition, is all about using multiple communication channels. Cross-channel, cross-device, and omni-channel marketing approaches are also focused on using a number of channels to communicate with customers. However, these approaches usually enable a deeper level of integration and are more effective as the result.
Cross-channel marketing is focused on creating an integrated campaign experience across different channels, so that each channel would be mutually supported by others.
Take for example: being a marketing professional, you probably know from experience that most website visitors aren’t willing to share all their contact information. They do provide their phone number and an email when placing an order, but in most cases, that’s all.
A cross-channel marketing approach would help you convince your customers to share some additional contact information, therefore increasing the number of channels you can use to communicate with them. Furthermore, this will give you an opportunity to keep in touch with the customers even if they change certain contact information (e.g. stop using a messenger, create a new email address or change their phone number).
Here’s how you can do it, with an example of the Kasta shopping club, one of the biggest eCommerce clothing retailers in Ukraine. Kasta’s cross-channel marketing strategy includes emails, Viber, and SMS text messages. A customer needs to register (enter their email or phone number) before placing an order. In addition, if a customer is already registered, they can log in using one of their social media accounts.
If a customer provides not one, but a couple of ways to reach out to them, they will be informed in advance about which channel will be used for further communication.
The company also has a mobile application for better interactions with customers. Kasta highlights the benefits of installing and using an app in all other marketing communication channels.
Kasta’s primary channels for mobile app promotion are SMS and Viber because they allow a customer to download, install and open the app instantly from their smartphones.
After a customer installs an app and agrees to receive notifications, the shopping club starts sending mobile push notifications to drive them to the app.
Cross-device marketing: not a trend, but a necessity
The eSputnik system enables you to track visitors’ activity on your website, and to monitor the subscriber’s behavior across emails, messages, push notifications, on-site, and even offline (by using promo codes sent in triggered and bulk email campaigns or by using bonus cards).
The system’s web tracking features allow you to implement cross-device and multi-device activities to capture a visitor, no matter which device they use to visit your website.
Language learning services like Duolingo are a great example of cross-device communication in general. Here, the interconnection between a website and a mobile app is tailored perfectly. As soon as a сustomer registers in an app, they receive an email informing them that they can learn using their PC, too. Furthermore, if a customer clicks a link (i.e., links in emails or search results) on their smartphone, they’ll be redirected to the Duolingo website instead of the app.
The customers get a clear benefit: they can learn a language both at their PCs and on a mobile app. The only issue with this approach is that customers still need to enter their email and password when they enter the website, even if they’re already using the app. Entering an email generally isn’t an issue; a password, however, is another thing. Customers would have to enter the password manually or log in using their Facebook or Google+ account. If a customer uses two different email addresses for the app and the website, it would be much more difficult to identify them as a single person. Needless to say, your customers can forget the email address and password they’ve used to sign up. That’s why it’s better to remind customers of their password.
Omnichannel marketing strategy
Omni-channel marketing strategy is a summation of all the strategies described above. An omni-channel approach is all about creating a wholesome shopping experience and establishing brand consistency for your potential and existing customers.
The distinct features of an omni-channel communication are the following:
An organization utilizes an integrated system of marketing communications.
All the channels work together and complement each other logically for better omnichannel customer experience.
Users receive the most relevant content via the channels that are the most convenient for them to interact with.
The best way to achieve this is to adopt a scalable omni-channel platform that will help you collect, unify, and activate data about all customer touchpoints across all your marketing communication channels, automatically and in real time.
Omnichannel vs. multichannel: is there a difference?
In fact, any omnichannel campaign is also a multi-channel one. Both approaches involve multiple marketing channels. Here, the key difference is a matter of how each channel works in a marketing mix. Where a multi-channel marketing strategy communicates with users through a variety of individual channels, omnichannel strategy breaks down the silos between the channels, integrating numerous user touchpoints into a seamless customer journey. This involves implementing cross-device technologies by the means of web and mobile app tracking, as well as establishing close integration across all the chosen marketing channels and coordinating them for better results.
The omni-channel approach helps companies achieve true marketing synergy: you’ll get better results than when using all the channels separately.
Example of omnichannel marketing: triggered messages
Omnichannel series of triggered marketing messages are widely used by many eCommerce companies.
Here’s an example of an omnichannel marketing campaign that includes an email, a Viber message, and even a phone call offering a personal Birthday discount.
The messages are sent with a small interval, starting from 8 days before a customer’s Birthday. As many online shops start sending triggered messages 7 days before customers’ Birthdays, starting a day earlier helps the company to outrun competitors and to keep their messages from getting lost among the others.
If a customer haven’t used a discount within 2 days after the message, a manager calls them and offers help in picking a gadget and activating a discount.
How does this work? To create an omnichannel, customer-centric marketing campaign, the business has to track customer activities (such as, opens and clicks to the website) within the emails and Viber messages and connect this data to the on-site behavior of the same customer across all the devices they’re using. This enables the business to track cross-device conversions, finding the best ways to engage customers and improve conversion rates.
Omnichannel workflow automation in eSputnik
To ensure that your omnichannel marketing automation efforts bring the desired results, you need to make sure your marketing channels work together consistently and effectively. Therefore, before coming up with a workflow, you need to think about the logic and the order of messages you send through different channels.
Here’s an example of how you can implement an omni-channel workflow in eSputnik.
A workflow like this makes it easy to remind customers about an expiration date of a discount, a promo code or a bonus offer.
A message through next channel is sent only when a customer doesn’t react to a previous channel.
This helps both to save the budget and to avoid annoying a customer. If they’ve read one message, they won’t get any others.
What should a marketing specialist pick?
Implementing multichannel or omnichannel strategies for your business is a time-consuming yet worthy deal. If for some reason you can’t build a deep integration and incorporate an omni-channel marketing strategy, you should at least start by adding a couple of communication channels to your marketing mix and building the relationships with customers using these channels, and by learning how to make the most of omnichannel communication strategies. After you do so, you can take your existing marketing workflows to the next level and start developing your very first omnichannel strategy.