The internet revolution has empowered customers in ways never imagined before in the past decade. The interconnectivity now available means that customers have access to use multiple channels — laptops, smartphones, tablets, watches and much more — to interact with brands.
Worst, the customers’ ability to interact with brands across different touchpoints makes the purchase path no longer straightforward but spiral as they might use a combination of touchpoints before making a purchase.
With the increase in affordable smartphones availability due to the presence of Transsion brands such as Tecno, Infinix and Itel in addition to high internet penetration rates in Nigeria, customers are now using multiple channels to accomplish a single task online, be it shopping for a new product, selecting a movie to watch, or just anything.
To explain clearly, let’s imagine two scenarios:
Imagine a scenario in which a customer learns about a product from TV ads. The customer then visits a nearby store to try to experience the product. After examining the product as well as other competing products and discussing with a store attendant, the customer finally decides that the product is the best. The customer then searches for the same product online and buys it there for a better price.
Imagine another scenario in which a customer learns about a product from an online ad. The customer then searches for more information about the product on social media with a smartphone. A social media post leads the customer to a product comparison website, which the customer quickly browses through. The customer then decides that the product is the best in the market, looks for the nearest store that carries the brand, and finally goes there to buy it.
These scenarios which are now common explains that customers are now even more mobile, channel agonistic, moving from online to offline and vice versa. As they do so they expect a seamless, consistent and integrated experience devoid of any disconnect. Marketers need to adapt to this new reality and do the same. Rather than focusing on only one channel and miss out on an opportunity when customers hop to another channel, they need to be available across multiple channels.
The inability of traditional marketing channels to fill this gap created a huge missed opportunity and was a setback to customer conversion. While using multiple channels is a smart approach, the most successful brands use a strategy called omnichannel marketing.
An omnichannel experience is a multiple-channel approach to marketing, selling, and serving customers in a way that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience no matter how or where a customer reaches out. Simply put, it means that the customer’s experience is the same regardless of which channel (offline or online) they engage with your brand.
It involves creating marketing messages that are shared across all digital channels, traditional channels, point-of-sale, in-store, and other online experiences. This requires that brands break channel silos, enable collaborations between departments and unify their goals and strategies be it offline or online. To create a true omnichannel experience you have to completely integrate all customer-facing units and ensure that all customer touchpoints allow customers to go away with the same happy feeling wherever they interact with your brand.
Creating a unique omnichannel customer experience
To create an omnichannel strategy, all of the channels used need to be connected to create a consistent, cohesive, seamless customer experience and this is possible through audience segmentation, cross-device marketing, data management and analysis and marketing automation.
Many brands in Nigeria have realised the need for omnichannel marketing because it helps them provide their consumers with a seamless and consistent content experience across the consumer’s journey and beyond. However, going omnichannel alone is often insufficient in the long run. As excellent as it might sound, leveraging on omnichannel marketing might result in creating poor experiences for your clients.
The reason being consumers are more willing to accept personalized messages rather than mass-market tailored messages. “Just because your marketing and messaging are omnichannel does not mean your experience is good,” said Tony Lanni, head of marketing at Appetize.
It is essential to listen to your customers, avoid generalization and create opportunities for personalized experiences with your consumers. Brands need to consider the various ways that their consumers are willing to interact with their brand and support them in those ways asides the channels being operated.
With customers, especially millennials expecting a consistent and great experience from brands across online, in-store and phone channels, the seamless user experience is a must and we are already seeing many Nigerian brands investing in creating a great consumer experience across channels. Still, we expect many more brands to adapt to this if they must stay at the top.