What is Omnichannel Marketing and Why is it Important for Small Businesses?
Omnichannel marketing is a business strategy that relies on several different types of content distributed across various media for the purposes of building brand awareness and driving revenue.
Typically, small businesses are either unaware of omnichannel marketing or are reluctant to adopt the strategy, concerned that the process is too complex or costly to manage with a small team or without a dedicated marketing professional on staff. Contributing to cost and complexity is the imposing array of tools traditional marketers use on a daily basis to create and manage their various campaigns.
By adopting a comprehensive marketing platform, small businesses can significantly reduce the number of apps needed to facilitate an omnichannel strategy, while still gaining powerful customer insight and marketing process alignment.
Right now, largely mid-market and enterprise businesses are benefiting and seeing great ROI from omnichannel marketing efforts, leaving small businesses at a competitive disadvantage, which shouldn’t and doesn’t need to be the case.
By first understanding the mechanisms of this strategy, then following some basic practices and adopting holistic marketing solutions, small business owners can leverage omnichannel to drive customer engagement and raise brand awareness, without breaking their backs or the bank.
The Right Tools for the Job
Small businesses that seek out holistic technology solutions, which are easy to use and consolidate workflows and customer data, are best suited for an omnichannel marketing approach. Platforms, rather than individual apps, are more valuable to small businesses, particularly those like Zoho Marketing Platform, allowing users to create and manage email campaigns, social media, customer surveys, webinars, events, and other omnichannel activities from one single interface.
Brand assets including videos, documents, or presentations are stored in a single shared space, allowing automation capabilities, prebuilt into the platform, to trigger next-step actions, such as automatically responding to a customer service request.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of taking a platform approach to omnichannel marketing for small businesses is the access to real-time, unified customer data. Business intelligence services, many of which are automated, enable small businesses to analyze how and when and why customers engage with their brand. From these insights, businesses can inform customers about a new product or upcoming event across different channels, all personalized to their unique journey or area of interest.
This unified view into the customer is often lacking for small business. So long as companies can supply a steady stream of content and campaigns tailored to customers by data-driven insights, omnichannel marketing can work for all businesses, regardless of the size of their marketing team or budget. Admittedly, it’s a tall task for already stretched SMBs, but it can be done and it’s worth the effort.
Prioritizing Channels and Starting Small
One way small businesses can be more cost and labor efficient is to integrate sales solutions, like a CRM, with their marketing platform, so that everyone has a better view of existing customers and ongoing activities. Customers that have expressed a positive experience to a sales or support agent, for instance, can become brand champions in service of marketing when departments and data work together.
Those customers – incentivized through loyalty programs or discounts or early access to new products – become an effective and inexpensive voice that can evangelize small businesses across multiple channels, be they interviewees for earned media placements, advocates in advertising, or spokespeople at company events.
The key here is to start small, with two or three channels that have proven successful for the business already, whether that’s social media advertising and a paid contributor partnership with a trade magazine or a monthly email campaign and SEO content generation. There are compounding benefits to adding more channels, chief among them is gaining a fuller picture of customers from which businesses can better personalize experiences for them.
Still, the more channels added, the more effort is needed to produce content and campaigns and keep up with those actions, which is why platforms that can centralize customer data, automate actions, and simplify the entire marketing process for multiple stakeholders is fundamental to omnichannel success, particularly for small businesses.
Converting Multichannel Marketing into Omnichannel Marketing
Omnichannel differs from multichannel marketing in that a successful omnichannel strategy is one that unifies diverse online and offline marketing actions so that campaigns complement one another instead of simply coexisting.
A multichannel marketing strategy, on the other hand, requires dozens or more expensive applications—tools that are often siloed and rely on expansive teams and departments to integrate to produce actionable insights from customer data. According to a 2017 Netskope cloud report, the average organization uses 91 different MarTech tools to manage their activities.
Even though multichannel marketing sounds like the domain of only large companies, most small businesses already engage customers across multiple channels, though their systems and stakeholders aren’t aligned.
In the end, omnichannel is a way for small businesses to unify their existing multichannel marketing efforts by way of comprehensive marketing platforms to provide better customer experience and inform more effective future engagement.
With the right solutions and a coordinated approach, omnichannel marketing is not only obtainable for small businesses, it’s a vehicle for sustainable growth through more efficient and better diversified campaigns.
This article, “What is Omnichannel Marketing and Why is it Important for Small Businesses?” was first published on Small Business Trends