Engaging your customer has ironically never been more complex even though thanks to the internet we can connect and sell our services in seconds, crossing countries and cultures.
That’s because whether you are a B2B or B2C company, the modern consumers’ engagement landscape spans a seemingly endless number of channels. Whether they are traditional or digital, brands succeed or fail based on their performance across those channels giving rise to the omni-channel marketing phenomena.
It can seem a dauting prospect for SME’s and entrepreneurs, who are time poor and don’t have thousands to splash on marketing agencies.
The end of brand loyalty?
Omni-channel marketing is vital as customers are no longer confined to a single channel or platform and are quick to adopt the latest trends and emerging technologies just as they are likely to abandon them overnight, even their former favourite platforms, to buy or browse.
In fact, research shows that more than half (55%) of buyers will actively take steps to switch brands because of new technology (even if they’ve been satisfied with recent purchases) meaning businesses can’t afford to rely on brand loyalty alone.
According to Salesforce, 54% of customers think that businesses need to change the way they engage with them, while two thirds say that the most important thing a company can do to provide good service, is to value their time.
What 2020 taught us is the need to get comfortable with dizzyingly blurred lines as people change their behaviours quickly and marketers, salespeople, and customer support staff, will need to react faster than ever before. As people shift to buying online and with increased social distancing for retail stores, it means that an omni-channel approach is now a necessity.
eCommerce at an all time high
With eCommerce transactions at an all-time high, a seamless digital experience can solve issues and create life-long customers. Buyers are used to immediate responses from real-time communication with more than 90% of them using multiple channels to engage with a business when making a single purchase.
Omni-channel marketing creates a 360-degree experience for customers, connecting what they do at every point of contact with the retailer. When all these channels are connected and play to their respective strengths, it can really pay off.
For example, Ikea has been an innovator in marketing for years. Its most significant step in omni-channel is the company’s new Planning Studio stores. These small, appointment-driven urban stores are specifically aimed at city dwellers – especially those who don’t own cars and therefore don’t visit the out-of-town warehouses.
The stores don’t hold much stock and instead encourage customers to pre-book appointments to then plan a kitchen or bathroom using 3D planning tools. The fancy tech isn’t just for show. Everything that is learnt in-store and whatever is created are all logged within the customer’s account. Orders are then facilitated by superb logistics, which use the larger warehouse stores to provide rapid deliveries and installation.
A quick look at Starbucks or Costa Coffees’ apps will reveal why many consider these to be top omni-channel experiences. Not only do you get rewards that you can use whenever you buy your coffee, it’s also possible to check your balance and reload your card via phone, website, instore or through the app. Any changes to the account are updated across all channels in real time.
Best businesses will engage personally and emotionally
Dubbed the ‘Catch Me in Seconds’ trend today’s consumers want business to help them get to the information they need in a concise and impactful way. That means businesses need to connect with consumers on a more personal and emotional level to engage them.
The thinking here is that friends, family and independent consumers, are the most trusted sources and businesses that enable this type of sharing community will win.
This is borne out by new research which shows how important it is for brands to help customers, particularly with pandemic restrictions and how this has engendered new loyalties.
According to a recent survey (see below), Netflix, Amazon and Cadbury’s have emerged as some of the top brands that got consumers through lockdown.
Brands seen as a helping hand
What’s more The Best Brands Report, published by leading promotional products retailer 4imprint, found one in four said they bought from a brand during lockdown and have since become a loyal customer.
Sentiment is high for Amazon, for example, as they keep deliveries going, supplying everything from home schooling provisions to electronics for the millions of home workers.
Not surprisingly then, nearly half (48%) of those polled said they spend more money than usual during the periods of lockdown and three quarters (75%) said it really cheered them up when they knew a delivery was on its way.
Other brands that feature highly were Facebook in third place, followed by WhatsApp, YouTube and Cadbury’s.
TikTok, Marks and Spencer, ASOS and Aldi were also said to have kept spirits up, as did Instagram, LEGO, Disney+ and Spotify.
Of the 1,500 UK consumers polled, 42% said they buy from brands that have good sales and offers on, while a quarter said that speed of delivery was important to them when choosing to buy from one company over an another.
Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson for 4imprint.co.uk, said: “The research shows most of us would have been lost without certain brands and although technology brands featured highly, brands from more traditional industries also performed well.”
Make your brand stand out in emerging channels
As new marketing channels emerge it’s crucial that you don’t make your customers work hard to find your company. A thoughtful, well executed online experience that allows your customers to engage with your company is a fast way to win brand loyalty.