Part III of the miniseries on Scaling Intimacy
Building an Omnichannel Presence
Nowadays, with all the devices and people being super-connected, it’s possible to constantly interact with customers in any preferred environment. However, not all marketers capitalize on these opportunities.
Most commonly, companies adopt a multi-channel approach, where they blend different distribution and promotion channels to their customers both online and offline. Still, these channels operate in separate silos, each with their own content strategy. Because of this, customers may end up having different brand experiences.
A cross-channel approach uses several distribution channels to complement each other, thus amplifying overall impact, yet operating as separate sales silos. The method of interaction is still largely dictated by the company.
An omnichannel approach allows brands to reach a customer in whatever way they prefer. Channels operate harmoniously, like an orchestra, to give the customer an optimal experience, allowing them to choose how and when to interact with the brand.
The future of marketing includes more instruments than ever before - with video conferencing platforms, virtual reality, and even video games becoming avenues through which your customer can reach you. Since many people’s lives are concentrated at home (the so-called homebody economy), it’s important to use new media channels to optimally reflect changing lifestyles.
Let’s dive into the example of Domino’s again. The company has expanded into a huge list of platforms for people to order from; from regular desktop to Apple smartwatch and from Twitter to Slack. People can order a pizza in seconds. All these methods are integrated, allowing people to order a pizza in virtually any way they want. The pizza chain has embraced the omnichannel to the point where it is always present when a customer needs it - whatever they are doing, wherever they are.
Nike’s Run Club App is another prime example of omnichannel use. Once customers purchase a pair of running shoes, they can link them to their mobile devices. The app measures each user’s habits, preferences, and activities and provides them with tailor-made information to whichever device: phone, tablet, or laptop. Nike also connects users to each other, building a community around common interests and athletic goals. The brand thus actively engages its customers to create a feeling of intimacy and community with Nike, but also amongst each other.
To each (channel) their own (strategy)
Embracing the omnichannel approach is not a matter of making an account on every social site and start searching for clients and customers. It’s all about creating a tailored experience that allows your brand to be present wherever and whenever your customers want you to be.
To understand this, you need to identify segments of customers. Who are they, which platforms do they use, and how do they communicate?
To be efficient in an omnichannel environment, you need to be consistent in your content. Your brand vision and story should be uniform across all channels. However, that does not mean that you can transform a LinkedIn post into a Tweet one-to-one. Besides the more practical constraints, such as maximum character count, you will find that people use various platforms for different reasons, and those active on both LinkedIn and Twitter are looking for different types of content across platforms.
Every platform has its distinct layouts and functionalities, creating a need for multiple strategies. A great example is your tone of voice. It’s essential to“read the room” of each platform and understand what works best. Your company mission and values should always shine through, no matter the platform or message you’re sharing, while your content doesn’t feel out of place. For example, you’re more likely to use a less formal, casual tone of voice on Twitter than you might do on LinkedIn.
Another aspect to keep in mind is boundaries. Let’s take a look at WhatsApp.WhatsApp is a great channel to use for short-form, direct, and on-the-spot messaging. However, it is also a platform for personal, private conversations. That doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a brand. Allow your customers to reach you on Whatsapp if that is what they prefer. It gives the customer convenient options without invading their privacy.
Understanding which platform serves which purpose in your strategy does not oppose the universal approach of the omnichannel; it’s a prerequisite to making it work.
Opening new doors
A consistent omnichannel presence has enormous merit. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer Report 2019, customer trust in brands increases when a customer sees a message repeated across channels (see graph on the right). Channels mutually reinforce each other when it comes to a positive customer perception.
As consumers see a message repeated across channels, their trust in it increases
Source: 2019 Edelman Trust Special Report
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