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Omnichannel Marketing: Insight or Jargon?

Are Multi Channel & Omnichannel marketing just modern bits of jargon to sum up the need to use every way possible to talk to the consumer, or is there more Omnichannel Marketing than that?

Is there anything new in these approaches that is more profound and important?

There has always been the need to speak to the consumer in as many ways as possible. Back in the day, before the explosion of digital channels, there were a range of channels: TV, Radio, posters, T-side advertising and print. Print split down into types of print most of which were magazines and newspapers.

There were multiple channels but, because there were few ways for people to spend their ‘media’ time, high volumes of people read or watched single sources within the channels. So as an advertiser it was relatively easy to place your message where it would be seen by your target audience.

However with the arrival of digital media and the internet, the number of media channels exploded as did the number of ‘sources’ within them. As a result audiences fragmented with smaller audiences viewing a wider number of sources.

But it got worse when digital went mobile.

With ever faster connection speeds consumers became able to access media anywhere and that included at the physical point of purchase.

But that wasn’t the end of OmniChannel marketing confusion as it was about to get even worse for Brands and advertising.

With social media and third party ‘review’ sites, a range of opinions shared began to influence and intervene in the purchasing decision from people known and unknown to the consumer. Whether from friends on Facebook, consumer reviews on Amazon or on specific review sites like Trustpilot, the consumer was now open to a new source of third party influence. The consumer decision making process had become a personal wiki able to be edited by a variety of opinions and inputs from an unpredictable variety of sources all the way to the till.


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A carefully constructed Retailer environment to channel consumers to a purchase can be nullified by a few comments on a website reviewed by the consumer whilst waiting in the queue to pay in store, or as is more common, finding a lower price of the same product on a website.

This information anarchy necessitates that the marketer exert some control over the process.

And so terms like multichannel & omni-channel marketing and programmatic advertising were born. These ‘terms’ offer hope in the form of activities that might exert influence over the information anarchy. But do they?

Searching google for ‘Omnichannel Marketing explained’ returns 177,000 results. None of the results offered any useful explanation beyond this one from Emarsys.

Omnichannel refers to the multi-channel sales approach that provides the customer with an integrated shopping experience. The customer can be shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, via phone, or in a brick-and-mortar store, and the experience will be seamless.

However, reading the deeper explanations provided and reconstructing it into a definition we get a bit closer to a useful definition:

Omnichannel is seamlessly engaging the customer to reduce the effort from the customer experience.

This is closer to something that feels usable but it is still a bit weak.

If you come from a time in marketing when you still recall that marketing was about orienting the business around profitably satisfying customer demand there is an obvious omission. The bit where marketing delivers value. When the customer buys the damned product.

If we add this to our definition we arrive at:

Omnichannel is seamlessly engaging the customer to reduce the effort from the customer experience and produce value.

It requires getting up close and personal and alongside the consumer in their purchasing journey alongside to understand their behaviour, anticipate their needs and provide a seamless customer experience that delights – and results in a sale!

So when we take the gloves off and use the dirty word ‘sales’, what Omni Channel is actually all about is trying to keep hold of the consumer all the way to the till. To do this brands need to be constantly present in what at PanOptica Media we call ‘the moments that matter most’ to provide what the consumer needs.

This in turn rather than big data, requires micro data and even personalised data. It requires getting up close and personal in the consumer pathway alongside the consumer to understand their behaviour and anticipate their needs and provide a seamless customer experience that delights!

Read next: Experiential marketing or People Counters

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