Whether you’re an experienced marketing professional or a one-person show running your first ecommerce store, you’ve probably heard of a little something called “omnichannel marketing”. Just from the name you may have guessed it has to do with interacting with your customers through multiple different channels. And you’d be absolutely correct!

But let’s dig a little deeper and dissect the true meaning of this marketing buzzword and see how you can leverage some effective small business marketing strategies for your ecommerce brand.

What is omnichannel marketing?

Your customers are everywhere and they’re consciously and subconsciously discovering different brands at every step of the way. You want to create a consistent, positive perception of your brand in your customer’s mind. This means that wherever they see your content or interact with you, they have the same delightful experience. And this is what omnichannel marketing is all about.

“Omnichannel marketing is using digital and/or traditional marketing channels to send a relevant message to a brand’s customers regardless of the customer engaging with the brand, nor the channels used to engage.” Omnisend

Omnichannel marketing means that if your customer stumbles across your Instagram page or sees you at a pop-up market, they receive the same marketing message.

Omnichannel marketing vs. multichannel marketing?

Some other marketing jargon you may be familiar with is multichannel marketing. At first glance, it may seem like the same thing as omnichannel marketing but there are a few key differences.

First off, omnichannel marketing is customer-centric while multichannel marketing tends to lean more towards the channel first approach.

Omnichannel marketing is customer-first while multichannel marketing is channel-first.

While all omnichannel marketing uses a multichannel approach, not all multichannel marketing is omnichannel. The key here is the alignment of one clear message across all channels. You can have engaging email marketing campaigns, an equally amazing social media presence, and a great user-friendly website. This would be really effective multichannel marketing. However, if they don’t work well together then it would not be omnichannel marketing.

"Companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement." Aberdeen Group

Customers not only appreciate omnichannel marketing, they expect it. Customers want to be able to start interacting with you on one channel and finish on another. Everything is available at their fingertips and it’s your job to make sure that the user experience is as seamless as possible.

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Theory from his book Start With Why

Let’s break this down even further with a concept that all marketing gurus are familiar with: Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Theory. This states that every brand should start with their why: the reason they do what they do. Then they move to how they do that better than their competitors, and lastly what they should do or what products they should offer. Let’s apply this to omnichannel and multichannel marketing.

A multichannel marketing approach might move from the outer circles to the inner circles and look something like this:

Here we can see that these two campaigns on different channels are being done for very different reasons and communicate two different messages. While influencer marketing creates an image of exclusivity and quality, BOGO campaigns will lead to perceptions of lower quality.

An effective omnichannel marketing campaign will start with the customer’s need or problem - also known as the why. They will move from the inner circles to the outer circles in a fashion similar to this:

Here we can see that starting with the “problem” or “why” allowed this hypothetical brand to plan marketing campaigns across several channels that all coincide with one another.

This is just one example on a small scale, but it’s important to remember that omnichannel marketing extends to all channels - both on and offline.

Why omnichannel marketing is essential for your small business marketing strategy

There are several benefits to using an omnichannel marketing strategy instead of a multichannel one. For starters, you will achieve top-of-mind awareness in your customers’ minds. When they see your consistent campaign across several channels, they are more likely to remember it. In the marketing world, there’s something called The Rule of 7 in reference to how many times a customer needs to see a certain ad before converting.

“The marketing rule of 7’s states that a potential customer must see a message at least 7 times before they’ll be provoked to take an action.” Illumination Marketing

While you need to stay relevant in your customer’s mind, avoid spamming them and risking moving into the “annoying” category. If you can achieve your 7 messages in a variety of ways, customers may not even realize how many times they’ve seen your message.

As we can see above, increased engagement, which will result from being top-of-mind, also leads to higher customer loyalty through higher retention rates. When customers are constantly faced with your brand, they’ll have a higher perception of your status if they like what they see. In fact, one channel you may want to consider pursuing is a loyalty rewards program for your brand. Luckily, we happen to have a loyalty solution in mind ;)

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Lastly, when all of your marketing efforts are aligned you can deliver a more personalized user experience. Think about a typical customer omnichannel experience:

  • A customer finds your brand via a Google ad on their search engine results page.
  • They visit your website and scroll through your product pages.
  • They receive an ad on Instagram for the product they were looking at.
  • They add this item to their cart on your website but ultimately don’t buy it at this point.
  • They receive a cart abandonment email right to their inbox with a curated discount offer.
  • They make the decision to convert and purchase this item.

In the above scenario, we see how a brand could use 4 separate channels to deliver one seamless customer experience. As a small business, you don’t have to run elaborate, expensive marketing campaigns on 15 different platforms. If you make effective use of a few relevant channels in tandem, you will see a greater ROI than running several separate single-channel campaigns.

Small business omnichannel marketing strategies

So let’s recap: we know what omnichannel marketing is, and why it is important. Let’s dig into how you can actually get the omnichannel marketing ball rolling now.

Understand your customer

If you’re a small business we get that you may not have the resources to be on every possible channel under the sun. The good news is that you don’t have to be. In fact, it can be extremely inefficient to pursue a channel if your customers aren’t spending their time there. The key to beginning any marketing strategy is fully understanding your customer.

The advantage of the digital marketing atmosphere is that you have constant access to customer data in real-time. For example, something as simple as an Instagram poll can give you valuable insights into customer opinions, wants, and needs.

Fully understanding who your customer is, and what they want is the key to omnichannel marketing as it’s customer-centric. Using tools such as customer profiles and customer empathy maps are a great way to start. Ensure you are using analytics to back up your claims as well!

A 4 Step Guide to Creating the Perfect Customer Empathy Map
The first question on your mind is probably “what exactly is a customer empathymap?”, and rightly so. At its core, a customer empathy map is a process ofgetting to know your user base; what they want, need, think, and feel, forexample. This makes it easier to design products or services that will…

Determine your clear, relevant message

Once you know who your customers are and what they want, it’s time to craft your message. What do you want to tell your customers? What is going to matter to them? What will help you stand out from the crowd? How are you going to track your brand and ensure you’re reaching your customers?

If your customers care about sustainable and ethical manufacturing, don’t waste your time telling them about how much celebrities love your products. This doesn’t matter to them and will not lead to increased engagement, loyalty, or purchases.

Craft a message that communicates your customer’s why as well as your brand’s why. Your brand values should come through in every message you send.

Select your channels

Now comes the practical part - selecting which channels to communicate your message through. Always remember - the customer comes first! If your customers are not spending their time on Tik Tok, it doesn’t matter how awesome that new video you filmed for Tik Tok is. Always market to where your customers actually are, not where you want them to be.

We know that the vast number of channels can be overwhelming. Don’t worry, it’s okay, and best, to start small. Select a few channels that make the most sense for your brand. Here are a few to consider:

  • Social media - Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, Pinterest and more!
  • Website - as an ecommerce brand this should be a no-brainer.
  • Content Marketing - these provide value that goes beyond your products.
  • Blogs
  • Video tutorials
  • Advice forums
  • SMS notifications - most customers are on their phones a lot. Bring your brand to their fingertips.
  • Email - staying in your customer’s inbox keeps you relevant but avoid spamming them and tempting them to hit that unsubscribe button.
  • In-person events - these may be something you can aim for down the road once you have a thriving brand community.
  • Advertisements - these are expensive and should be used sparingly to avoid appearing too “salesy”.
  • Influencer marketing - have your customers take it from somebody else they trust!
  • Referrals - in a similar fashion, let your previous customers do your marketing for you. A referral program is a great way to leverage this channel.
  • Search engine optimization - help your customers find you in a more organic way.
  • Affiliate and partnership marketing - align with brands similar to yours to drive their traffic to your brand.

These are just a few of the most popular and achievable channels but there are tons out there so do your research and invest in the ones that pertain to your target market.

Test, measure and re-evaluate your strategies

It doesn’t matter how much work you’re doing if it’s not accomplishing your goals. Always ensure you set clear goals and benchmarks before starting any campaign. This should be something that you can go back and compare your results against.

Test out different small business marketing strategies and see what is working and what’s not. The great news is that so many of these channels offer free, readily available data in the blink of an eye. Facebook and Instagram analytics can help you see how your content is performing and Google Analytics can help you discover how well your website is performing.

If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to switch it up. There’s nothing worse than continuing to do something because it’s “what we’ve always done”. Customers are changing, channels are changing, and you need to be changing as well. Change is the only constant in the digital world so ensure you’re keeping up with the trends.

Omnichannel Marketing Example: Bella Vita Organic

There’s tons of brands out there making great use of omnichannel marketing. You probably interact with dozens of them on a daily basis, you just might not have realized it. Let’s take a look at how Bella Vita Organics, a niche Indian brand in Ayurvedic and natural beauty products has leveraged an omnichannel marketing strategy.

If you take a look at the photo above and think “that’s a lot going on”, then you’re right and that’s exactly the point. Bella Vita Organics has made use of several channels to deliver the same message. Their brand values of being natural, affordable, cruelty free, and unisex are communicated everywhere.  

Starting on the left hand side, we can see that they offer a loyalty program called Bella Cash. This drives home their customer value and affordability by allowing customers to earn extra value for each purchase through points they can redeem for money off their next purchase.

Next, they have a dedicated app for customers to use while shopping on mobile. This reinforces the idea of a simple, personalized customer shopping experience.

They also have a section in the footer of their main webpage that is titled “Online Presence.” This links to all of the other platforms they are available for purchase on to allow for an effective customer transition.

Their social media are consistent with the style and feel of their website.

On top of that, their brand values are listed in the bios of both their Instagram and Facebook pages.

Finally, their website ties it all together with an easy user interface and detailed navigation bar that allows customers to find exactly what they are looking for in a matter of seconds. They even have a dedicated “Our Celebrities” page, which links to user-generated social media content from their customers who post about the products.

Bella Vita Organics makes it clear what they stand for everywhere they are. Customers will have no trouble finding what they’re looking for, no matter where they’re looking.

Start delivering an omnichannel marketing experience now

Customers are everywhere these days and you need to be too. There’s nothing worse than searching for a company’s Instagram page or website and coming up blank. Ensure you know where your customers are spending their time and develop a strong presence there. But be careful - don’t just be on a channel just to be there.

Strategically plan your omnichannel presence and ensure your message on each is aligned. Afterall, omnichannel marketing is all about delighting your customer and what’s more delightful than a brand who truly resonates with you everywhere you look.