You must have heard the term “omnichannel” thrown around, but what is it? Many people believe it’s beneficial for small and medium enterprises (SMEs); is it true? And how does it differ from “multichannel” marketing?

‘Omnichannel marketing’ is a cross-channel marketing strategy where you reach out to your customers on various media and platforms to improve the customer experience and drive better relationships with them. 

No single platform monopolizes customer attention. Consider your own habit: how do you consume information? How many social media platforms are you on? During your daily commute, do you switch on the radio or do you look out at the billboards? In a traffic jam, do you sneakily turn on TikTok, YouTube Shorts, or Instagram Reels? Do you read newspapers and magazines – or do you prefer their digital version? Which streaming platform are you on to catch up on your favourite series? Turning to your mailbox, how often do you receive promotional flyers, bills, and letters?

As you can imagine, you – and your customers – interact with businesses through a multitude of platforms and touchpoints. Omnichannel marketing attempts to systematically use these touchpoints in an integrated manner to empower and educate the consumer rather than only working in their best interests. This approach combines online and offline marketing, which has become a way to let the customers choose which channel they want to buy the products or services.

Bear in mind that omnichannel marketing differs from multichannel marketing even though the implementation is alike. Principally, omnichannel marketing is customer-centric, meaning that the approach will let the customers seamlessly engage with the alignment of one clear message across all channels.

On the other hand, multi-channel marketing is channel-first, meaning that the approach uses channels to convey messages to the customers without looking at how well they worked together. However, both methods work well depending on the businesses with each other’s benefit.


Benefits of omnichannel marketing for small businesses

Omnichannel marketing works well for small businesses since it is efficient and effectively reaches more customers. You formulate your omnichannel marketing by understanding your customers and their journey. Here are some benefits of omnichannel marketing for small businesses.


  1. High Customer Retention and Loyalty

More often than not, consumers buy from brands they trust. The higher the price, the more important trust plays. To cultivate trust, it is not enough to shout about the benefits of your products, services, or solutions. You need to take care of existing customers by providing quality customer service. Things customers expect these days are shorter waiting times, faster problem-solving, and happier customer service representatives. According to PwC, 80% of consumers in the US point to speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service as the most important elements of a positive customer experience. 

Within the context of omnichannel marketing strategy, a small business like yours utilizes tools to provide personalized and consistent approaches. While granular and individualized personalization is ideal, it may not be effective for small businesses. It is good enough to group your customers into segments based on their behaviours, platform/touchpoints, demographics, location, or other acceptable parameters to make your campaigns relevant and effective.


  1. Smoother Customer Journey

Earlier you read ‘customer journey. What does that mean? 

In the simplest terms, the customer journey is the process and interactions your customer has with your brand, product, or service in order to achieve a goal. Proponents of customer journey mapping advocate for businesses to create a visual storyline of every engagement their customers have with the brand, service, or product. The outcome may not necessarily be purchasing itself. It could involve the request for information, the request for a demonstration, or the request for a proof of concept. 

You can adapt the Consumer or Buyer Decision-Making Process to guide your framing of the journey. It begins with the recognition of their need. Then the information search follows. Armed with this knowledge, they would evaluate their alternatives before making the purchase decision. Finally, there could be a post-purchase evaluation.

After mapping out the journey, consider how your various touchpoints fit into the journey. What gaps currently exist that contribute to a drop in transition to the next phase? Remember, it doesn’t have to always be a gap in information. Sometimes, the decision could be postponed. 

For online retail consumers, it’s akin to leaving the products in the cart without proceeding to purchase. And the items remain in the cart for a couple of days or weeks. What can you do to entice your customers to make that purchase? Remember, they could have dropped off because of a myriad of factors beyond the control of the phone or tablet.

This active participation in their journey lends omnichannel marketing the reputation that it lets you understand how consumers do across your sales funnel. By analyzing the data, you can focus on improving the performance of the part where the consumers mostly behave.


  1. Identify New Opportunities

Customer behaviour data is critical for any marketer. In the same vein, it helps SMEs analyze performing customer segments or product segments. Enough data also allows SMEs recognize purchasing behaviour and trends. Conversely, it allows marketers and SMEs to identify either underserved or untapped market segments and deploy campaigns reaching out to them. This level of optimization is no longer unique to big businesses.

The numbers alone are the collective function of customer trust and satisfaction. Armed with the testimonials of satisfied customers, it is relatively easier for you to penetrate into these underserved or untapped segments. Likewise, your data-driven campaign could help address downtime seasons in the sales cycle. Of course, where part of your omnichannel marketing can be automated, you would be able to handle customer queries effectively and efficiently around the clock.

For that ‘stubbornly’ unprofitable segment, it could be time to revisit the approach. Perhaps it would make more business sense to drop it altogether.

Collectively, an omnichannel marketing strategy may lead to more conversions and higher Returns on Investment (ROIs). It is materialized through accurate segmentation and personalization, leading to better customer engagement.


  1. More Integrated Business

SMEs often have multiple business units collaborating towards a common goal. An omnichannel marketing approach may force these different units to collaborate closely more than ever before. Often, business units are custodians of a specific domain along the customer journey. Customer support, for instance, would be handled differently from marketing and promotions. Fulfilment could be performed by a team operating within their silo. Sales could be aggressive in the field.

Omnichannel marketing will not be able to eliminate the silos outright. Yet, as stakeholders are able to see how their functions serve the customer, it would be easier to coordinate the functions. Where there are gaps or kinks, they could be filled or ironed out.


  1. Better Customer Insight

According to SEM Rush, 55% of small business owners say that technology helps them manage customer interactions. Close to 85% of small enterprises already invested in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) options. On average, small firms use anywhere between 25 and 50 SaaS solutions. Yet, 80% of small businesses are not taking full advantage of their available technology! Only about of all businesses prioritize customer relationship management (CRM) platforms over other types of technology. And even sadder, 80% of businesses that invested in personalization will stop funding projects due to the lack of RoI by 2025!

Most tools, platforms, and channels used in omnichannel marketing allow you to trace or measure the effort. Subject to prevailing data protection laws and regulations, you can collect and combine customer data from different channels and systems, including cookies, devices, IDs, shopping carts, social media, mailing lists, and point-of-sale (POS) referral programs. This traceable data can be easily measured and analyzed to have better customer insight, which leads your small business to develop new ideas and strategies.

This includes understanding keywords used by potential customers when searching for a solution. Using Google Analytics, you can measure how long they were on your website, and which content or series of content most appeal to them. Social media platforms offer marketers demographic and geographic insights into their audience. This could help them customize their ads and business-as-usual (BAU) content. Email marketing CRM tools also allow marketers to gauge the interests of their recipients in their content. This is measured by open rate and click-thru rate (CTR). Based on these data, marketers and SMEs can deduce what works best for the different customer segments.

To illustrate a typical customer omnichannel experience:

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

Marketing in today’s digital world is no longer just a numbers game. It is coupled with other factors including engagement, alignment, trust, and satisfaction. The omnichannel marketing approach requires you to match the tools you have with the experience your customers have. It compels internal collaboration to ensure a seamless experience for the customer.

Hence, it’s essential to strategically plan your omnichannel presence and ensure your message on each platform is aligned. After all, omnichannel marketing is about delighting your customer, and what’s more delightful than a brand that truly resonates with you everywhere you look? So start your omnichannel marketing strategy now and grow your business better!