Life as we know it has changed forever. As we move into the post-pandemic world, our daily norms have been altered, affecting how we interact, communicate, shop, and countless other impacts. But let’s take a moment (the 5 minutes it will take you to read this) to look at how the pandemic accelerated digital disruption and forced brands and customers to adapt to our new normal.
After more than a year of uncertainty and government forced shutdowns, the format of traditional shopping has changed significantly and possibly forever. As consumers were forced to make the majority of their purchases online, brands had to quickly pivot their existing forms of operations to meet the consumers’ new set of needs. We quickly learned that even brands with a pre-existing digital presence faced obstacles in successfully reaching their customers, let alone new ones. This was due to the common misstep of focusing their digital efforts on one channel and the lack of channel diversity. Since then, the shift of consumer spend toward e-commerce has been a constant headline. One of the main implications of this shift has been the enhanced role omnichannel has come to play for brands. A study by Deloitte found that 75% of consumers expect consistent interactions from a brand no matter the channel. In order to stay competitive and attract new consumers, brands must have a cohesive voice across every channel they interact with.
While the term “omnichannel” is not new and has been an essential concept in consumer behavior for most brands for the last several years, 2020 has forced companies to think more broadly and invest more swiftly in their omnichannel capabilities. Omnichannel marketing empowers brands with the centralization of online and offline channel activities. Giving them the ability to create a seamless engagement with various audiences in their funnel. Imagine a communication flow from channels like social, email, SMS, advertising, or other physical touchpoints that work in harmony. The chances to satisfy customers, in turn, are much higher since there will not be any data silos across channels. Digital-native brands have long understood this model and have implemented the necessary tools and resources to maintain after a year of unprecedented market disruptions and change.
The use of cross-channel data collection reveals valuable insight into individuals and consumer groups. The ability to harness this data allows brands to boost sales, cultivate customer loyalty, and provide the post-pandemic consumer with the experience they expect. We’ve all experienced a brand that communicates differently across each channel, making it feel like you are experiencing a new brand at each touchpoint. The real value of this data is to understand how, when, and where to engage with your consumer. Building out a full-funnel digital ecosystem is imperative to targeting each user and their specific stage in the buying process and effectively communicating to them in that stage. The ability to segment audiences allows for communication that genuinely engages and solves a user’s immediate need, driving them through the purchasing funnel. The days of focusing on a single channel are gone, and brands with multi-channel strategies have been the real winners over the past year.
An Omnichannel Approach
Owning your data is imperative for growth and if you haven’t already, below is a list of the core principles to help your brand experience become what current consumers are looking for:
- Understand your data. – Google Analytics, Business Manager, Hubspot, and the like are not your enemy. They can help you unlock insights to drive sales and build brand affinity.
- Segment your audiences – Ensure your data is clean to effectively engage with your consumer at each stage of the buying process.
- Message accordingly – You wouldn’t message someone who has never heard of you the same as a loyal customer. Speak to your consumer with the information they need to convert.
- Test and learn, then test some more – Innovation is key! Sticking to what you know best and “works” does not set your brand up for success in the future. Just ask Blockbuster, Borders, or Blackberry.
The world is changing by the minute, and it is unclear how long it will take for digital marketing to return to normal or if it will at all. While it is easy to focus on the negatives of COVID-19, it is essential to realize that this pandemic has seen our industry grow faster than it ever has before, and many of these changes have set the industry up for long-term success. It is up to marketers to embrace the new normal and reimagine customer experiences across the new digital landscape.
Transitioning to a more digitally centered marketing program can help provide superb tracking, flexibility, and long-term cost efficacy. While the right omnichannel engagement strategy will look different for each brand, one truth remains the same: Consumers will continue responding to convenient and personalized services, and the best way to provide this experience is with a consistent omnichannel experience.