Brands are spoilt for choice when it comes to developing their unique marketing mix. However, like staring down the wrong end of a buffet and finding you’ve overfilled your plate (we’ve all been there!), it’s easy to become tempted into an overloaded approach to omnichannel. Brands could be making the all-too common mistake of going for high volume in an effort to be heard amongst the din of other brand voices, using up their resources and spreading themselves thin in the process.
Let’s be clear, omnichannel marketing is a godsend for brands because it allows ultimate flexibility to pursue the optimised, targeted strategies which will help them to meaningfully connect the brand to consumers in a myriad of ways.
Retail analysis (McKinsey) reveals that omnichannel customers shop 1.7 times more than single-channel shoppers – and they spend more, too. In the future of retail, an ever-increasing portion of customers loyal to a brand will be hitting all the different channels and touchpoints that a brand or retailer has in play.
In short, omnichannel (when done right) is a proven driver of engagement and sales. However, with a plethora of platforms and touchpoints available to brands, from physical to social and even the metaverse, brands are coming to grips with their now escalated responsibility to interrogate their own efficacy and to investigate the right approach to integration, lest they see their footprint and profits dwindle as the result of being overly gluttonous.
The biggest risk they face is blundering on messaging in the first place. I’ve seen one too many brands jump at the latest platform, betting on the skyrocketing popularity and widespread adoption of the platform itself, on which they rush to place a half-baked, half-developed brand message. Although the outcome may seem predictable to onlookers, those behind the decision are nonetheless bewildered by the fact their campaign fell short of the engagement and sales they had once been so sure of.
The swank and glitter of the latest, greatest omnichannel option can only carry a campaign in a small minority of cases. For the vast majority of brands, there’s simply no way to circumvent the must-haves of a water-tight brand profile: strong design architecture and strong storytelling.
So, how do you stick the landing? How do you ensure spot-on storytelling and design? Organising an all-star team of experienced storytellers, who live and breathe individual briefs (and don’t do things by rote) is a good start.
Stories are not only told with words. The physical interaction between customer and product in store is a key touchpoint for evoking emotional responses, but it’s integral that this moment of connection happens organically when the product isn’t sitting in someone’s hands. For online channels, visual storytelling is paramount. Photography and videography, done well, can speak volumes; allowing a brand’s personality to shine, demonstrating quality, evoking emotional responses in the viewer, and creating real-life scenarios in which they can mentally place themselves. Whether it’s the vibrant, joyful colours of fresh vegetables or the tantalising creep of caramel down the side of a steaming hot pudding, visuals speak volumes to customers.
In all cases, strong storytelling isn’t just a ‘nice to have’, since it functions as a backbone to omnichannel offshoots. This is particularly true because of the consistency needed across channels to make omnichannel marketing effective in the first place.
Across the omnichannel mix, brands must deliver consistent messaging whilst tailoring the content for each. Aligning at every touchpoint will increase their capacity to shape the first impressions for new acquisitions and increase familiarity with returning customers.
Storytelling is therefore the keystone which supports the consistent delivery of messaging and tone across the omnichannel landscape; in turn this supports a better overall customer experience.
Omnichannel is about one thing only
What’s important for brands to remember is that the omnichannel buffet – as good as it looks – isn’t for you! The strength of omnichannel is the flexibility and convenience it provides the customer to interact with brands on their terms.
Built around their needs, an omnichannel approach should aim to cover all the bases equally – being ubiquitous without being repetitive, being consistent without being boring. From the customer’s perspective, all touchpoints of a brand should appear to blend effortlessly (although of course brands understand that the reality is much more complex).
Because omnichannel is by nature customer-centric, to get the most out of it, brands need to understand their customers to the greatest extent possible. Brands need to interrogate their own efficacy and thoroughly investigate when determining the right approach to take.
Luckily, there are wide-ranging investigatory facilities and methodologies available for brands, from virtual focus groups to social listening to data analysis.
The foundation of everything is understanding your customers, as this will give you the detailed insights needed to brief the design and comms teams with ease and confidence and to make the informed decision-making on the initial rounds of designs and storytelling, which will ensure you ultimately arrive at the most effective outcomes possible.
Cover image source: denisismagilov