My car died last month. I went online to see what my local dealer had available. I filled out a form with my desired make, model, and year along with my contact info. For several weeks I received social media ads for available vehicles that met my criteria. The dealership mailed me a Car Buyers Tip Sheet to help me make a decision. One day, I got a phone call inviting me into the dealership. When I went, they had three cars that met my specs ready for me to test drive. The salesperson was friendly and knowledgeable but not pushy. They offered competitive financing options, so I drove my new car off the lot the same day.
My car-buying experience is a great example of omnichannel marketing. The dealership made it easy for me to see my options, educate myself, and connect with an expert. They had resources for me at every step of my decision-making process. The result is that I’m satisfied with my purchase. I would buy from the same dealer again, and I would recommend them to friends.
What is omnichannel marketing?
While “omnichannel” might sound like just another bit of marketing jargon, it’s actually a very simple concept: seamless customer experience. “Omni” means all. Omnichannel means you look at all the possible ways your audience interacts with your brand and you make sure everything works well together. It goes beyond your marketing department to include your sales team, customer service, and in-person events. The result of well-executed omnichannel marketing is long-term member loyalty and increased engagement with your association.
How is omnichannel different from multichannel marketing?
“Channel” is just another word for format or platform. Are you reaching people via email, social media, direct mail, or cold calling? These are potential channels for your marketing efforts. “Multichannel” means you’re using multiple formats and platforms to connect with your audience. Most associations today use multichannel marketing. What’s often missing, however, is a holistic approach that considers all the touchpoints along the entire customer journey—from awareness to consideration to decision and, eventually, long-term loyalty and deep engagement. That’s where omnichannel marketing comes in.
Two keys to omnichannel marketing
1. Give the people what they want.
The idea of a traditional sales funnel doesn’t quite apply to omnichannel marketing. “A” does not necessarily lead directly to “B” and then “C.” Omnichannel marketing recognizes that some people move from awareness to decision quickly because of an urgent need. Others might need extra information and support during a long consideration phase. Some people might visit the same channel more than once or skip others entirely. Omnichannel meets people where they are and helps them in whatever way they need.
2. Be consistent in everything you do.
To ensure a seamless experience along this winding omnichannel journey, you will need to ensure brand consistency at every turn. Your collateral should maintain visual continuity in your logo, colors, fonts, look, and feel. Your voice should be clear and consistent, whether in social media, email, or direct mail. Your sales team should be knowledgeable about your association, products, and current promotions. Additionally, your in-person events should include everything your marketing promises.
Case Study: American Specialty Toy Retailing Association
To help the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association promote their annual conference and tradeshow, we used a variety of formats, including direct mail, social media, digital ads, and email. To maximize these channels, we segmented ASTRA’s list into meaningful categories—nonmembers, sales reps, and store owners. Next we considered available brand assets and crafted additional infographics and videos to fill in the gaps. From there, we developed digital workflows based on segments, the assets, and ASTRA’s goals. Users determined next steps based on the actions they took.
Our efforts nearly doubled the number of first-time conference attendees. The last piece of the omnichannel puzzle was that ASTRA’s event delivered on all the promises we made in the marketing materials, which is sure to fuel repeat attendance next year.
Why do you need omnichannel marketing?
It’s all too easy to turn people off. If my car dealer called me in but didn’t have any cars in stock that met my specs, I might never have returned. If the salesperson was slick and impersonal, I might not have made a purchase. Even if I had an okay experience, I might not recommend the dealership to others or become a repeat customer. Omnichannel marketing is a way to continually engage and satisfy your base even if they’re not quite ready to join, attend, or make a purchase. It takes time, but the results are quality prospects and satisfied members with a high lifetime value.