Digital Marketing

What is Omni-Channel Marketing?

The Definitive Guide to Omni-Channel Marketing

When watching a movie, chances are you have your phone in hand. Nowadays, the film isn’t the true feature; it needs to be supplemented with casual retail browsing, social media, and catching up on text messages.

Consumer attention is scarcer than ever when there’s less of it to go around. In the past few years, attention pans have shrunk by a staggering 25%. Add that to growing competition, and marketers find themselves needing to restrategize.

If brands want to keep up with ever-evolving customers and delight them at every touchpoint, they need omni-channel marketing.

There’s a reason martech is buzzing about omni-channel marketing; it’s the solution to the customer attention deficit and captures their valuable attention no matter how quickly it shifts.

In this step-by-step guide, learn everything you need to know about creating a cutting-edge omni-channel strategy. The time is now to capture customer attention.

  1. Introduction
  2. Definition of Omni-Channel Marketing
  3. What Omni-Channel Marketing Is Not
  4. How to Build a Holistic Omni-Channel Strategy
  5. How to Deliver an Omni-Channel Customer Experience
  6. More Channels, More Problems?
  7. Omni-Channel is Omni-Vertical (Examples)
  8. Conclusion

Definition of Omni-Channel Marketing

Omni-channel marketing aims to tell a cohesive brand story at all customer touchpoints, while using every available channel (online and off) to seamlessly support one another.

Picture a customer queuing in line at a brick-and-mortar store. When she arrives at the register, the cashier cannot combine her online benefits with in-store discounts. Already frustrated, the customer tries to decide what her best option is, causing an inconvenient transaction for her—and a long wait time for everyone behind her. She leaves dissatisfied with the long service and inconsistent messaging.

When brand channels aren’t in sync, customers ultimately disengage. That’s a risk that brands must avoid at all costs.

Now consider the same scenario—when it’s powered by omni-channel marketing.

While in line, the customer logs onto the mobile app to access her points card. At the register, the cashier easily accesses the customer’s loyalty status to redeem her points, combining the rewards discount with an in-store BOGO promotion. With the marketing communications in harmony, the experience is frictionless.

That’s omni-channel marketing: a seamless and convenient method of keeping multiple channels, and the customer, in sync.

What Omni-Channel Marketing Is Not

Brands need to not only meet their customers on every channel, but fully engage them to build loyalty. At its core, this is what differentiates omni-channel marketing from any other strategy:

Cross-Channel Marketing

  • Cross-channel marketing is the practice of delivering communications across devices. Think of a brand that offers both email messages and text alerts; they succeed in meeting customers on their most common touchpoints.
  • While a great strategy starts with cross-channel marketing, marketers must keep moving forward with marketing experiences that reduce the friction between online and offline worlds.
  • Begin with customer-led navigation. Create synchronized messaging so customers can switch between devices when they want to, not because they need to.

Multi-Channel Marketing

  • Similar to cross-channel marketing, the idea is to meet customers at more touchpoints. But multi-channel marketing has a leg up on cross-channel marketing; offline sources, such as in-store visits, are carefully considered and included in the strategy. Casual visits and store events are used as another marketing touchpoint.
  • While multi-channel marketing is an upgrade, it still misses the opportunity to tell customers a holistic story. A brand can have multiple touchpoints, but if they’re disconnected, the purchasing experience will still be full of friction.  

A cohesive story is not an extra, it’s a necessity. When customers want the smoothest experience possible, they may quickly leave brands that fail to provide it.

How to Build a Holistic Omni-Channel Strategy

Learn how to tell your unique brand story in this five-step strategy and implement an omni-channel initiative with ease:

Finding Your Brand Voice

71% of customers are switching between brands more frequently than ever. That means a continuous cacophony of sales pitches and CTAs all vying for valuable (and diminishing) customer attention.

To build a brand voice that stands out, keep these components in mind: authenticity, personalization, and consistency:

  • Authenticity: For 88% of customers, authenticity is a crucial factor in their decision to support a brand. Customers want more than lip-service; they want brands that walk the walk and talk the talk. If you stay true to your brand’s mission and vision, customers will take note and appreciate the follow-through.
  • Personalization: Virtually every brand makes the claim that they care about their customers. If brands want to be authentic and show follow-through, they need personalization. Remember, 70% of customers expect brands to remember their preferences. Cater to their personal needs by finding items near them and noting global trends. Offer up recommendations and stand-out services unique to them. Meet them on their favorite device in a true show of omni-channel personalization.
  • Consistency: Remember the purpose of branding—being immediately recognizable to a customer. With good branding, one look tells them the company’s purpose, offerings, and the kind of service they can expect. Think of today’s branding giants—it only takes a single image to communicate who they are to customers. If you want to be recognized, you need to be consistent at every touchpoint. It only takes 50 milliseconds to make a lasting impression on your customers. Make it count.

Omni-Channel Marketing Must Be Data-Driven

Your brand voice can be a valuable contributor to a customer’s purchasing journey. Building that voice consistently requires relevant, timely communications that are meaningful to those receiving them.

To be relevant, a brand needs data. Data unlocks what the customer is looking for and what they need; and the best part is, every customer action is a key source of data.

A customer is browsing on your site? Your brand has access to key first-party data. Sent out a poll to survey customer opinion? Customers are giving you valuable zero-party data in exchange for a better marketing experience.

Map Out the Full Customer Journey

Relevancy in the moment is not enough. Brands can take customers on a journey that leads them to be the best consumer they can possibly be. Discounts and promotions may grab attention and give your brand a revenue boost today, but the right nurture content can drive brand allegiance for lifetime loyalty.

Every customer is unique and has their own ideal relationship with your brand. That’s why marketers map out the golden journey for each customer using predictive analytics, current data, and set an automated process to make it an easy lift.

Standardized Attribution and Benchmarks

Every strategy needs evaluation and tweaking, and omni-channel marketing is no exception. Within omni-channel marketing, your brand juggles various communications on multiple platforms—it’s important to note what’s working and what’s not.

The catchy caption that drives engagement on social media may not boost the same results for your editorial newsletter. Simultaneously, the engaging graphics that are on your website could have the potential to skyrocket your email engagement.

Brands need to track what communications thrive in which channels, and they need to test existing creatives on new platforms. Through it all, you should be setting specific goals while tracking results and empowering informed decisions for unstoppable strategies.

Automate the Omni-Channel Journey

Stay relevant to each unique customer with automation.

If your company has more than even a handful of customers, omni-channel marketing is virtually impossible without automation:

  • Finding your brand voice and using it to engage with customers consistently requires automation. Why? Customers will only hear your message if it’s serving relevancy that meets their needs and preferences. To do that, you need automation to continually gather and activate data to keep communications fresh.
  • Being data-driven requires collecting, cleaning, segmenting, and activating data. Data ages quickly and won’t stay relevant for long, making the window of opportunity to engage customers narrow. But with automation, brands become agile enough to keep up with the data and deploy data-driven campaigns that catch customer attention.

Manually tracking and finding data patterns sucks up time. Automation is a useful tool to powerfully attribute company wins to your creative marketing efforts.

Get a head start in your omni-channel initiative.

Explore the tool that makes omni-channel marketing a breeze.


How to Deliver an Omni-Channel Customer Experience

Now that the steps to establishing an omni-channel marketing strategy are clear, brands need to think about their customers’ perspective when they receive marketing communications. While every data-driven campaign is unique, brands should keep this foundation in mind:

Convenience is King

You don’t like doing things the hard way and your customers don’t either. Currently, 68% of customers are willing to pay premium prices for stand-out service that’s fast and easy. From browsing to check-out, the process must be seamless.

Take your mobile presence, for example. Half of customers will refuse to do business with brands that have a poor mobile experience, even if they like everything else about the brand. Without convenience, you're setting yourself up for only 50% of potential revenue.

Strategic Messaging

No one wants to be bombarded with endless marketing communications, but they also don’t want to miss crucial messaging in the shuffle. If you want to engage customers in the messaging you know will catch their attention, such as transactional messages, brands must ensure that they’re not overloading customers’ inboxes.

Otherwise, every message could be deleted without a single open. If you know what to say, you won’t have to say it so often—and your brand voice will increase in relevance and credibility across every channel.

Customers Want the Personal Touch

Omni-channel personalization is key to a brand strategy because it’s crucial to customers themselves. Today, 66% of customers expect brands to understand and act on their needs and preferences, and over 60% refuse to even engage with non-personalized messaging.

Note that personalization goes beyond messaging. As the resounding response to omni-channel strategies prove, personalizing down to the device is crucial.

Seamless Transitions

For all channels to support one another, strong bridges must be in good working order. Engaging with a brand is more likely if in-store returns are an option for online purchase for 47% of customers, and more than half are likely to use multiple channels for a single purchase. Seamless transitions between channels is a must-have for every omni-channel strategy.

Keep it Clear and to the Point

A catchy CTA is not enough. It needs to be clear, concise, and make sense to the customer.

It can be as simple as choosing the right language. If your CTA is to check out the brand’s new fall arrivals and customers are only linked to the homepage, the discrepancy can be jarring. Similarly, if a CTA is long and wordy, it’ll tamp down potential engagement. Make it crystal-clear and to the point for attention-divided customers.

More Channels, More Problems?

While more channels through an omni-channel initiative can garner powerful results, the increase in platforms can feel like an increase in headaches, troubleshooting, and confusion.

Know that this doesn’t have to be the case. Get ahead with this quick-start guide to avoid common challenges and begin streamlining an omni-channel marketing strategy.

The Temptation to Cut Corners

It’s tempting to create the same content for different platforms. Social media captions become a quick copy-and-paste, and one stellar image is shown to customers over and over again.

There’s a fine line between synchronized branding and blasting the same content everywhere you go. If marketers want to see true results and give their omni-channel strategies the best go they can, they need to ensure their messaging varies and keeps things interesting for customers.

Unifying Your Brand Voice

In the opposite scenario, brands may excel at differentiating their content—but miss giving their content the same recognizable threads that are the foundation of branding.

If content pieces and messaging aren’t supporting one another by telling the same story, brands may fall into multi-channel marketing. Multi-channel marketing may meet customers at several different touchpoints, but it doesn’t create an optimized experience nor does it point customers to your brand’s value. Without branding, customers may struggle to look beyond deals, fleeting desires, and price points alone.

Data Inconsistencies

It’s true that different channels produce different data; however, the data brands collect should be in sync.

Your brand collects more data points when customers interact with your marketing on multiple devices.  If the data is gathered correctly, it should produce a wider picture of your customers. For an even clearer picture, you can standardize your data practices and create one source of truth.

Omni-Channel is Omni-Vertical (Omni-Channel Marketing Examples)

You’ve got the behind-the-scenes strategies, the guide to optimized customer experiences, and the solution to common challenges. Now it’s time to see what that looks like in action with these visual examples.

Inkredible Retail serves customers online and off with messaging that caters to them every step of the way. Here, customers can browse to their hearts’ content from the comfort of their home. With the option of reserving items in-store, customers can get coveted purchases in their hands faster than ever. No shipping is as fast as a quick drive to the nearest store. As an added bonus, the customer is also offered other in-store items that the brand predicts the customer will love.

There’s nothing quite like dining in when you want a step-up from the usual takeout. Inkredible Eatery knows this, and uses their omni-channel marketing techniques to drive foot-traffic straight to the restaurant. Here, an offer with a free drink is included with a QR code to redeem it. As an extra enticement, additional offers are listed below.

This is a first-class example of channels supporting one another; not only does this message direct customers to in-restaurant dining, it makes the process smooth and seamless with the use of a QR code.

No omni-channel strategy is complete without a mobile presence. Here, Inkredible Media takes customers from the big screen to their favorite portable screen with a rich push notification to alert customers of the latest episode release. Whether they decide to watch on a browser or sit back and enjoy the show straight from their phone, this marketing communication has got them covered.


Omni-channel marketing is necessary, attainable, and elevates the customer experience like nothing else. Use this guide to transform your current strategies into an unstoppable marketing experience that engages customers at every touchpoint.