Consumers can buy whatever, wherever, and whenever they want. As a result, seamless omnichannel experiences are no longer a novelty—they’re the expectation.
Businesses providing these cohesive and integrated shopping experiences are winning over competitors. In fact, 70% of consumers spend more with companies that offer fluid, personalized, and seamless customer experiences.
This guide will cover everything you need to know to optimize your omnichannel marketing efforts.
Table of contents:
- What is omnichannel marketing?
- What are the benefits of the omnichannel marketing approach?
- What’s the difference between omnichannel marketing and multichannel marketing?
- How does omnichannel attribution work?
- Omnichannel marketing trends
- How to create an omnichannel campaign
- Omnichannel marketing examples
- How Shopify can help with omnichannel marketing
- Omnichannel marketing FAQ
What is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel marketing refers to an integrated approach that uses many channels, such as social media, email, and SMS, to reach a customer. Brands use omnichannel marketing to create a seamless user experience across all touch points.
What an omnichannel experience looks like versus multichannel. | Source: ResearchGate
SAB reports that customer touch points have more than doubled over the past five years. Today’s consumers expect seamless and cohesive shopping experiences—no matter where or when they come in contact with your brand.
Omnichannel marketing meets the demands of today’s tech-savvy consumers through highly personalized, consistent, and regularly updated marketing.
What are the benefits of the omnichannel marketing approach?
1. Omnichannel marketing drives sales
Retailers today have never had a better marketing toolkit. The rise of omnichannel retail helps ecommerce merchants, brands, and retailers meet shoppers wherever they are.
“Having a personalized omnichannel marketing strategy allows you to reach your customers in more places, providing more personalized interactions with the same customers across multiple channels, which results in more sales,” says Joe Putnam, founder of Conversion Engine.
2. Omnichannel marketing engages customers on an individual level
Customers want deeper personalization. Some 62% of consumers think companies could do a better job tailoring their experiences.
Gavin Flood, senior director at marketing platform AdRoll, agrees. “Customers crave engagement. More and more, we not only want to feel known by the brands we support—we expect it,” he says.
“People don’t remember brands that don’t engage them. By being everywhere [customers] are with an omnichannel strategy, you grow customer engagement, which drives goodwill toward your brand.”
Brian Nagele, CEO of Restaurant Clicks, says omnichannel marketing is key to providing better personalization.
“Omnichannel marketing cares more about tying platforms together into a system that works together to improve the overall customer experience,” he says. “So instead of diluting your impact by spreading resources thin on all media, you get to curate funnels that cater specifically to your customers.”
Providing accurate, personalized marketing across platforms is one example of positively engaging your target audience, and customers respond well to these efforts.
3. Omnichannel marketing makes shopping convenient for cross-platform shoppers
“With the introduction of new digital touchpoints and acceleration of consumer expectations, businesses now have to build entire brand ecosystemsthat leverage the right channels and messages, at the right time, to create a seamless consumer experience,” says Emily Fontana, head of digital marketing at 1R.
Not only do omnichannel customers not shop exclusively on one platform, they also don’t shop linearly. Instead, they bounce from one channel to another before making a purchase. In a 2022 Salsify report, respondents from the US, the UK, Germany, and France reported they engage on at least 11 different touchpoints.
Lynn Power, co-founder and CEO at MASAMI, says, “We’ve found that it takes our customers seven touchpoints before converting, so surrounding them in multiple places helps move them along the purchase journey.”
What’s more, 87% of millennials say convenience is important when shopping. Some 40% of shoppers of all age groups rank it as their first or second decision-making factor.
Today’s consumers have new shopping patterns, and they favor convenience now more than ever.
4. Omnichannel marketing increases customer retention and lifetime value
Joe Troyer, CEO and growth adviser at ReviewGrower, believes omnichannel marketing increases customer loyalty. “Shoppers who use several channels are more likely to be around for a lengthy time,” he says. “In fact, omnichannel shoppers were 23% more likely to return to the store in the six months following their first purchase, and they were also more inclined to suggest the brand.”
Daniel Tejada, co-founder of Straight Up Growth, agrees. “Omnichannel marketing is the way brands are tailoring a personalized experience to suit each customer’s individual needs and preferences as they move from channel to channel as well as device to device,” he says. “It’s like runners in a relay race, passing the torch from hand to hand toward the finish line. However, in this case, the finish line extends past the win to the cheering section of customer advocacy and retention.”
5. Omnichannel marketing boosts brand awareness
More and more customers are shopping both in-store and across online channels, and it can be challenging for brands to fuse the experiences.
“Businesses struggle to integrate their physical presence with their online brand image,” says Robert Smith, head of marketing at Psychometric Success. “You must ensure that not only are all of your retail channels consistent with your company’s branding, but that they work cohesively with one another.”
If you’re a retailer with physical stores and ecommerce stores, omnichannel marketing offers an opportunity to create integrated experiences that provide consistency and boost brand awareness.
What’s the difference between omnichannel marketing and multichannel marketing?
Personalized omnichannel marketing is not the same thing as multichannel marketing. Instead, it’s highly personalized, consistent, and regularly updated marketing based on your shoppers’ needs—not on the needs of your channels.
It puts customers at the center, offering them a seamless experience across all the sales channels they’re using and presenting them with the right information at the right time.
“The difference between omnichannel and multichannel comes down to integration and customer experience. In multichannel marketing, each channel provides different services and runs separately,” says Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls.
“Omnichannel marketing centers around the customer by providing them with a personalized message in a seamless, unified experience. This allows the customer to easily access information from any of the channels, since the channels are connected.”
How does omnichannel attribution work?
What is omnichannel attribution?
Consumers come in contact with retailers and brands across multiple touchpoints, including online, offline, in-store, word of mouth, billboards, and in the metaverse.
Omnichannel attribution is the practice of attributing sales and conversions to the channels that customers use. “This data allows businesses to see which channels are most effective and where they should focus their efforts,” says Tyler Brady of Zero Gravity Marketing.
Ways to collect and analyze attribution data
You’ve heard the quote from successful US merchant John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Thankfully, it’s not the 1900s anymore, and we have robust omnichannel marketing tools that help marketers collect and analyze attribution data.
There are several attribution models, and there is no one right way to collect and analyze attribution data.
Alan Park, digital marketer for Hood River Juice Company, says, “There are at least eight attribution models—some of them give all the credit to the first channel, some give all the credit to the last channel, and so on. For omnichannel marketing, you can collect data however you want. You are not tied up on a linear attribution model.”
While it’s true there is no one-size-fits-all attribution method or collection tool for omnichannel marketing, most marketers will:
- Set up conversion tracking and pixels (e.g., Facebook pixel, Google Ads conversion tracking, etc.)
- Integrate CRM and other marketing analytics platforms
The best way to collect and analyze attribution data is to use a tool that captures a comprehensive view of the customer journey, tracks various campaigns, and has robust reporting.
What does omnichannel attribution look like when it’s done correctly?
When done correctly, omnichannel attribution gives omnichannel marketers a comprehensive and clear look into how customers are engaging and converting.
A solid attribution strategy will use analytics tools to capture relevant and helpful tracking data. With these insights, marketers can improve marketing efforts and boost the ROI of marketing campaigns.
Stephen Heffernan, digital marketer at The Connected Narrative, says when searching for an attribution tool, marketers should look for one with a dashboard showing “how many customers were acquired from each channel, what the ROI was for each channel, and which marketing channels were most effective at different stages of the customer journey.”
Omnichannel marketing trends
We took to Twitter to ask active marketing professionals what fresh hot-out-of-the-oven omnichannel marketing trends they’ve noticed in the past year or two. Here are the top five trends, with brand examples.
1. QR codes at live events to bring shoppers online
Marketers are becoming more creative with leveraging mobile devices in their omnichannel strategies by fusing offline and online shopping experiences with QR codes. The number of US smartphone users scanning QR codes will increase to 99.5 million by 2025, from 83.4 million in 2022.
Graph from eMarketer showing the rise of QR code scanner usage.
For example, Happy Hour uses free samples and QR codes at in-person events to encourage people to buy more products online.
“I went to a Lorde concert at the Shrine Auditorium in LA,” says Jonathan Roque, content marketing manager at Smile.io. “I got a free sample of Happy Hour and loved it. It was also available at the bar. I bought Happy Hour at the concert, scanned the QR code, went home, and bought more online.”
2. Live ads + QR codes + TikTok videos
Marketers also use QR codes on live ads to drive traffic back to TikTok.
Miraflor says Mulberry posted a series of four poster ads with a branded QR code. The QR code redirects interested passersby to a zine, hosted on a TikTok landing page, that serves as a microsite brand experience.
Example of QR code being used by Mulberry.
“I appreciated the Mulberry omnichannel campaign execution because the experience felt full-funnel, in that every bit of the consumer journey—from encountering the creative on the street to scanning the branded QR code to browsing through the zine content—felt very considered,” says Miraflor.
“The fact that OOH is one of the media channels driving toward a digital experience is great. It feels modern and omnichannel.”
This strategy is a stellar way to keep foot traffic engaged in content and other popular digital channels.
3. Social ads collecting customer data and sending customers in-store for free product
O2O (online-to-offline) commerce is also on the rise. O2O commerce is an omnichannel strategy where merchants work to bring online customers into physical stores to boost sales and loyalty.
Nikhil Venkatesa, content marketing lead at Convictional, provides a great example of how brands are using this technique.
He says brands like Stimulate are creating Instagram ads that collect a customer’s phone number and ask them to buy a product in-store. The customer will send the receipt as proof of purchase, and then the company will reimburse the expense on Venmo.
“Marketers get the double whammy of collecting a phone number for following up on SMS marketing, and you actually influence customers to try the product for free and see how awesome it is,” says Venkatesa.
4. Quizzes to collect data and personalize direct-mail content
Quizzes are an interactive tool marketers use to personalize products and marketing materials.
L’Amarue is one brand using this strategy. It uses an interactive quiz on its website to learn more about its customers’ individual skin care concerns.
The second question on L’Amarue’s skin wellness quiz on its website.
Then, L’Amarue takes this information and sends a complimentary physical pamphlet in the customer’s order. The pamphlet has tips on how to improve their specific skin care concerns.
“This strategy is a great way to bridge the digital and physical experiences of our brand, and a way to connect with our customer base in their everyday usage of our products,” says Ande Sozzi, CEO and founder of L’Amarue.
“Collecting data directly from every individual customer has been a game-changer in making every physical experience unique and meaningful for our customers. It’s like having a member of our team on the ground with them, giving them info, tips, and tricks, and someone to hold their hand through their specific journey.”
What’s interesting about this example is L’Amarue is a small skin care brand with a team of only two. Omnichannel marketing doesn’t require a huge budget or team—only a smart strategy.
5. Online brands expanding into new retail locations
Some brands like Allbirds and Parachute Homes are opening their own stores to be closer to suburban shoppers. Others are collaborating with retailers to bring their products into physical stores, but not necessarily their own. Olipop is a good example.
Ed Kolovson, director of business insights at Olipop, tweeted about how expanding into retail has boosted the brand’s sales: “Olipop has increased door count by about 50% since the start of the year (excluding Walmart launch). … Sales have not declined one bit and Amazon sales have increased over 50% since the start of the year.
“Expansion into retail has led to more awareness and customers are able to try the product in stores first. This has led us to an increase in first time purchasers subscribing thus increasing our lifetime value.”
How to create an omnichannel campaign
- Use customer data to create a personalized shopping experience
- Ensure your messaging is consistent across platforms
- Connect with your customers during in-store shopping experiences
- Engage your customers across all high-touch channels
- Choose the right tech stack for omnichannel marketing
Use customer data to create a personalized shopping experience
The customer journey for physical goods used to be relatively straightforward. Consumers would make a shopping list, go to the store, pick up products, check out, and go home.
With advancements in commerce technology, an abundance of online and offline shopping options, and variations in consumer preferences, no two customer journeys look alike. Yet customers still demand highly personalized marketing messages and shopping experiences everywhere they shop.
The key to meeting consumer demands lies in capturing and leveraging data. “Omnichannel data is a valuable asset. When moving to a new channel, you can examine data generated by your existing visitors and customers to determine how to launch or expand,” says Bram Jansen, chief editor at vpnAlert.
Ensure your messaging is consistent across platforms
One of the benefits of omnichannel marketing is that it ensures your marketing isn’t disjointed across platforms—which can also pay dividends for your store in the long run.
Gavin Flood points to a study by Yes Lifecycle Marketing, which found that two-thirds of brands found it challenging to coordinate campaigns across various channels due to limited time and resources—a problem further complicated by the spread of new channels.
“By shifting your focus from channels to customer experiences, understanding your buyer persona, and segmenting your buyers, you will be able to deliver the right message to the right user through the right channels,” he says.
Connect with your customers during in-store shopping experiences
One of the more advanced tools of omnichannel marketing is mobile location data combined with first- and third-party audience data.
Geo-targeting technology can help target specific consumers during the “moment of truth,” like when they first stepped foot into your brick-and-mortar store.
But be sparing and strategic while using geofencing marketing or mobile GPS. You want to make sure the shopper has consented.
Often you can get that consent when offering store Wi-Fi or when a user downloads an app. Then, in the customer’s mind, it makes sense that you would provide offers or suggestions, because they’re an active participant.
Engage your customers across all high-touch channels
The goal of omnichannel marketing is to meet shoppers with highly personalized messages at every phase and channel of the customer journey.
This means it’s essential to understand your customers and reach shoppers wherever they are—be it a brick-and-mortar store, a live event, social media, in-app, or on your website.
This is no easy feat. “The omnichannel approach requires all hands on deck, not just those on your marketing team,” says Kai Ravariere, founder and principal at The KR Agency. “Every team that generates or leverages customer and prospect data needs to adopt a system and process for harnessing that data in order for the brand to be able to personalize and add real value to every customer interaction in their universe.”
While it takes time and teamwork to develop a successful omnichannel strategy, it’s also essential to dive deep and understand where your specific customers live.
“Be strategic about the channels you choose,” says Ravariere. “Gaining a strong command of where else your customers spend their time, online and off, will prove immensely helpful in testing and identifying which additional channels your brand should be on to intercept their attention and strengthen customer relationships.”
Your research will lead you in the right direction, but consider integrating the following into your omnichannel marketing strategy:
- In-store experiences: Loyalty programs, digital kiosks, and buy-in-store-ship-it-to-your-home are all ways brands and retailers can engage consumers.
- Social commerce: Marketers can direct shoppers from photos on social media directly to product pages, and consumers can also buy directly on TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram.
- In-app: Mobile devices are a powerful shopping tool, and now it’s possible to create your own mobile app, market, and make sales right within your Shop app.
- Email marketing and SMS: Capturing email addresses and numbers across channels and during a potential online purchase helps brands and retailers nurture customers to purchase.
Choosing the right tech stack for omnichannel marketing
Data collection—including traffic, on-site interactions, personal data, purchases, and searches—is critical to powering ecommerce omnichannel personalization. The same goes for tracking your success with the right metrics.
“While marketers measure the overall effectiveness of the campaign, they don’t measure the KPIs at every stage of the buyer’s journey, preventing them from deriving meaningful insights,” says Flood.
But figuring out what data to use and how to track it is only going to get more complex, especially with Chrome phasing out third-party cookies. First-party data collection will become increasingly important for merchants, and AI solutions will lead the way to do some of the heavy lifting and help scale marketing automation.
Omnichannel marketing examples
With a focus on consistent messaging, omnichannel personalization offers merchants the opportunity to both establish and reinforce their brand’s identity and values. That was the case for Shopify Plus merchant Lounge Underwear, a UK-based home apparel merchant.
“A year ago, we had just begun establishing ourselves in the U.S. market,” writes Kiran Bains, head of paid media at Lounge Underwear. “It’s hard to break into the U.S. as a young British start-up, especially as an ecommerce brand. To be successful, we needed to keep our messaging cohesive in every element of our campaigns.
“From the moment someone finds us on social media, to when they sign up for an email and receive a targeted ad, we have to determine: how do we talk to someone cohesively throughout their customer journey?”
Lounge Underwear found its answer by engaging the services of marketing platform AdRoll. With AdRoll’s assistance, Lounge Underwear’s 2.3 million Instagram followers and 230,000 Facebook fans are now presented with high-quality photography, which allows them to click through to the brand’s store. There, they can access resources on style and fit, as well as incentives to purchase and the opportunity to opt into the company’s email list.
They’re then targeted across social channels, web pages, and devices. This is all a key element of creating a connected experience—and one that’s heavily focused on reinforcing the Lounge brand values. Contacts created through email collection are also leveraged with AdRoll data to identify similar audiences to grow the pool of future customers in driving engagement with the brand.
The result? Exponential revenue growth. Lounge Underwear increased revenue from social platforms by 388%, while managing to drop new audience acquisition costs by 78%.
Big Blanket Co.
Shopify Plus merchant Big Blanket Co.—which sells “the biggest, best blankets in the world”—wanted a mobile-first marketing strategy that delivered customer support on every touchpoint. Delivering personalized and timely responses was also important to the brand.
The brand reached out to Attentive as part of an omnichannel marketing campaign. In addition to launching a campaign that triggered text messages to subscribers for personalized experiences, Big Blanket Co. also used historical customer purchase data stored in Shopify to create additional SMS segments, such as subscribers who have abandoned their carts, visited the website, or purchased a specific product or category.
The result? Within only four months of launching its SMS marketing program, text messages sent via Attentive accounted for 18% of Big Blanket Co.’s total revenue.
BUBS Naturals sells fitness and nutrition products. It realized it needed to improve its marketing and boost its online sales, so, it turned to Shopify Plus.
To help find more customers, BUBS Naturals started using a special feature on Shopify Plus called Shopify Audiences. This feature helped it identify groups of people who were more likely to be interested in its products. This made its advertising more effective and helped it reach more potential buyers.
TJ Ferrara, co-founder of BUBS Naturals, says using Shopify Plus allowed the brand to take control and make its online store much more profitable. Once BUBS Naturals upgraded to Shopify Plus, it added new features to its online store. It set up different levels of discounts based on customer groups and made sure to turn off discount codes during big sales. With Shopify Plus, BUBS Naturals could handle all of these things on its own, without outside help.
This new approach was a big success for BUBS Naturals. Its online store conversion rate doubled. Its direct-to-consumer site’s revenue went up by 10%, and 84% of customers came back to shop again.
Beauty mega-shop Sephora has long built loyalty with its shoppers by providing rewards for every purchase and offering a gift on members’ birthdays.
Take Sephora’s beauty workshops, in-store makeovers, and product testing, for example. Its online membership program replicates the personalized customer service you get as a regular customer—and it’s giving the brand a great ROI, considering that its 10 million members tend to spend 15 times more on its website than those without a nurtured relationship.
“According to the Retail Personalization Index 2022, Sephora is first on the list of brands that personalize,” says Aleksandra Korczynska ofGetResponse. “All their stores were closed during the pandemic, but the company immediately switched to VR demos and virtual consultations. I find this company very customer-centric; the moment you enter their website, they define your location to show you the nearest stores. Sephora’s chatbot offers personalized recommendations, so it is equal to the ladies in their physical store that help you choose the best products.”
How Shopify can help with omnichannel marketing
In today’s highly competitive retail landscape, omnichannel marketing is essential to the success of your brand. It’s also not an easy endeavor, and takes time, tools, and strategy to get right.
Thankfully, Shopify Plus has its point-of-sale and ecommerce systems integrated into one easy-to-use platform. Shopify Plus helps merchants create personalized experiences for customers—no matter where they are engaging with your brand.
Omnichannel marketing FAQ
What is an omnichannel approach?
An omnichannel approach is a multichannel sales strategy that seeks to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience, regardless of the sales channel used. It involves integrating all of a company’s online and offline channels into a single, unified customer experience. This could include things like providing customers with the same product selection, pricing, and promotions across all channels, as well as offering customers the ability to purchase items online and pick them up in-store. If you’re a Shopify merchant, you can sell anywhere (including brick-and-mortar, using our POS) while maintaining a unified view of your business in one platform.
Is omnichannel a marketing strategy?
Yes, omnichannel is a marketing strategy that seeks to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels, such as brick-and-mortar stores, websites, mobile apps, social media, etc. The goal of an omnichannel strategy is to create a consistent brand experience, no matter where a customer interacts with the company.
What is omnichannel marketing vs. multichannel marketing?
Omnichannel marketing is a strategy that integrates multiple channels, such as digital, physical, and social media, to provide a seamless, unified customer experience. The goal is to give customers a consistent experience across all their interactions with a brand.
Multichannel marketing utilizes single channels such as television, radio, print, digital, and social media to reach customers with different messages. While multichannel marketing does provide opportunities for brands to reach a larger audience, it may not always provide a unified experience across all channels.
What is an example of omnichannel?
An example of omnichannel is a retail store that offers customers the ability to shop online, in-store, or through their mobile app. Customers can view products on their website or mobile app, purchase items in-store, and receive customer service through phone, email, or live chat. Additionally, customers can receive special offers and rewards across multiple channels.