Omnichannel Marketing 101

Marketing has changed rapidly in recent years, and today marketers can personalize and streamline the customer buying experience like never before. Channels like websites, mobile devices, and social media have changed how we engage with our customers. At the same time, artificial intelligence technologies enable marketers to personalize and customize the customer experience by gathering, analyzing, and using huge amounts of interrelated data. These are the developments that have led to omnichannel marketing, which personalizes a consistent, seamless shopping experience across all channels and devices.

Omnichannel Marketing 101

Omnichannel Marketing vs. Multichannel Marketing

Omnichannel Marketing: Omnichannel marketing is a strategy that connects various marketing tactics under a holistic strategy, and is intended to provide a seamless, integrated customer experience. The idea is to offer shoppers a variety of ways to engage with a brand, learn about products, and make purchases while also bridging channels and content types that help the customer navigate smoothly to the end of the conversion funnel.

Here are some basic examples of omnichannel marketing in action:

  • A customer receiving a text message with a link to a brand’s shopping app after signing up for promotional messages
  • A customer browsing posts on Instagram and following in-post links to the brand’s ecommerce store
  • Ads that retarget a customer with reminders and related products when they leave items unpurchased in their shopping carts

Multichannel Marketing: Though omnichannel marketing uses many channels, multichannel marketing is not always omnichannel marketing. Too many companies use multiple marketing channels independently of the others without integrating messaging, strategies, and goals. Multichannel marketing that is not omnichannel concentrates on specific channel strategies — from social to mobile, every channel has its own goals. In other words, it is more product-based or company-based than customer-based.

Is Omnichannel Marketing the Same as Integrated Marketing?

In the past, integrated marketing referred to consistent messaging across channels. More recently, marketers have come to understand that marketing should be customer-focused vs. company-focused. Good marketing has always been about figuring out how to solve a customer’s problem or offer them a benefit. The difference now is that omnichannel marketing offers not only integrated messaging, but also an integrated customer experience. Much more personalization is now possible thanks to big data analysis technology. Here’s another example of an omnichannel strategy:

  • The cat tree you looked at on a pet shop website is the same one that appears in an ad when you go on Facebook and the same one you see when the company emails you.
  • Ads start to follow you around the web not just about the cat tree you viewed, but also related products such as toys you can hang from the cat tree.
  • Suddenly, you are seeing a famous Internet cat recommending the cat tree in your Instagram Stories where you are asked to use an emoticon slider to show how much you love this cat tree. (Cats have been talking on social media almost from its inception.)
  • You get an email with a discount for the cat tree redeemable at a physical, in-store event in your area.

In an omnichannel campaign, the message is consistent for each channel and each device, whether you are viewing on your laptop, phone, or tablet. Long gone are the days of marketing coming at consumers from everywhere with competing messaging from the same brand. Today’s omnichannel marketing seeks to engage and interact with the customer on a personalized basis.

Why Should I Use Omnichannel Marketing?

If you are selling retail and do not have an omnichannel marketing strategy, you should start now or risk falling behind. Harvard Business Review studied the shopping behaviors of 46,000 customers who made a purchase within a designated 14-month period and found that 73% used multiple channels. 7% were online-only shoppers and 20% were in-store only shoppers. In other words, your customers want an omnichannel experience. And if you don’t give it to them, your competitors will.

The same study showed that customers loved using multiple touchpoints in various combinations. For example, they might see your ad on FaceBook, sign-up for an email list to receive a promo code, see one of your social media influencer collaborations, and finally make a purchase.

More Reasons to Choose Omnichannel

  • Omnichannel marketing campaigns featuring three or more channels have a 287% higher purchase rate compared to single-channel counterparts.
  • Customer retention rates are almost 90% for brands with an omnichannel approach.
  • Omnichannel marketing campaigns that leverage SMS are nearly 50% more likely to generate a conversion.
  • Omnichannel strategies lead to an 80% higher rate of store visits.

How Can I Develop an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy?

Be creative and develop an omnichannel marketing strategy that works with your customers. You should constantly be brainstorming. Here are some basics.

Start with internal changes to begin crafting your omnichannel strategy.

Create a Customer-Centric Culture

When digital marketing was maturing, it was common to have different departments handling ads, social media and community, content, and email — and that’s not even counting traditional marketing (e.g., billboards, TV ads, and direct mail) and sales. That kind of siloing is no longer an option for brands that want to succeed with digital-native consumers. These customers expect your look, feel, and messaging to be the same, whether they run across your banner ad or read a blog. To take it one step further, they want the same experience they get online in your stores or on the phone with your customer support.

Removing internal silos helps you get more from your marketing and encourages customers to spend more.

Consolidate Your Customer Data

Whether you’re a new brand or an established company with lots of information on your audience, starting your omnichannel approach with data is essential. Organize your customer data by channel and analyze where customers like to shop and how they use those channels in concert. AdRoll’s marketing platform is an example of a tool that provides robust data tools to help you understand the customer journey.

Once you’ve gathered this initial data, you can use it to build a strategy that attracts new, ideal customers. The next step is to understand how customers interact with your brand.

Understand Your Customer Journey

Use your data to create a customer journey map illustrating how customers navigate your brand’s ecosystem. This should include every channel you’ve used for advertising and how you communicate with customers, up to and through the point of conversion. Here are a few tips:

  • Analyze your customer journey from the customer viewpoint. Seek external testing as well as testing it for yourself. Consider a beta experience for VIP customers and offer incentives.
  • Ensure you test all the places a customer might enter the journey and various touch points throughout the process.
  • During the journey, think about how to make each step easier. Examples include: full product availability in store and online, the ability to order online and pick up in store, or even an app that allows you to scan in store and order an out-of-stock color option that is available online.
  • Directly ask customers what they think of your website, customer service, etc. Post-purchase surveys or even social media polls asking for feedback can help you learn more about your customers.
  • Make sure to review steps after the purchase, including customer service interactions and retargeting to promote related products to shoppers who’ve demonstrated interest.

Listen and Respond

Once you have developed your messaging, don’t just push it at your audience. Develop ways to listen to your customers and engage with them. Continue to seek customer feedback to optimize and improve your messaging and experiences.

Segment Your Audience

After you’ve learned all there is to know about your customer and what it’s like to go through the customer journey, it’s time to put all that knowledge to use. Audience segmentation is critical in omnichannel advertising. Before getting started with omnichannel marketing, you should have at least two primary audience segments established and thoroughly defined by customer demographics, interests, behavior, and values. This will help you visualize the customer experience from start to finish.

Maintain a Consistent Voice Across Channels

If you are not sure what you want your audience to remember about you, how are they going to remember it? It’s important to develop consistent messaging and use a consistent voice across channels. By developing a consistent look, feel, and message, your audience should be able to recognize a communication from you in any channel before they see a logo.

Because customers will find and interact with your brand on many platforms, it’s important to make sure that your brand is identifiable across channels. You don’t want to confuse shoppers with variations in your brand’s visual creatives and messaging. Keeping a consistent set of brand guidelines will also make it easier to test and identify areas for improvement on different channels.


Marketing personalization has been around since marketing began. However, it’s worth noting that personalization in an omnichannel marketing campaign needs to tell a cohesive narrative across every channel. Here are two ways you can ensure success:

  1. Adopt the right tools and tactics
  2. Develop a testing framework to continually optimize the customer experience

Optimize for All Devices

We’ve already said this, but it bears repeating. Customers should have an easy, pleasant, personalized experience no matter what device they are using. Gone is the day when mobile could be an afterthought. Your customer might access your website or social media on their laptop, use one or more mobile apps, and visit your physical store before they make a purchase. More and more, people are using more than one device during their purchasing process. Making sure items they put in their cart while on one device are still there when they go back to their cart on another device is a no-brainer.

Develop a Multi-Channel Attribution Framework

Multi-channel attribution is necessary for an omnichannel strategy. Knowing which of your channels is contributing what to your overall campaign will help you decide what’s work and what’s not.

Learn more about attribution models here.

Don’t Wait!

Today’s consumers have high expectations. They don’t want to be sold to and they don’t want to waste their time navigating marketing that’s irrelevant to them. The time is here to integrate your customer experience across all channels to build loyalty and increase your sales. No need to hesitate about what to do next.

AdRoll’s Marketing Platform can help you to develop your omnichannel marketing strategy and implement it every step of the way.