What is omnichannel marketing? Here’s why it’s your key to success

October 17, 2023
Written by
Reviewed by
Lyssa Test

Every customer has a favorite way of engaging with your brand. Some might be email or social media loyalists. Others might love the immediacy of texting, calling, or chatting with your employees. And some might prefer to self-serve via your website or app or do business with your brand in person.

Offering all these channels and more gives your customers the ability to choose exactly how they engage with your brand. And yet, using too many channels can result in siloed data for your business and inconsistent experiences for your customers.

That's why many companies invest in solutions that consolidate data across channels and power personalization at every step of the customer journey. What powers this customer-first, cross-channel consistency? Omnichannel marketing.

In this article, we’ll explore what omnichannel marketing is and how it differs from multichannel marketing. We’ll also share examples of omnichannel marketing strategies from top companies and tips for building your own.

What is omnichannel marketing?

An omnichannel marketing approach is when every channel a business operates on is connected. The goal of this integration is to provide continuity and a personalized customer experience. By connecting data across in-person and digital channels, companies provide better, more consistent experiences that pick up where the user left off.

What does an omnichannel experience look like in practice? Let’s say a customer reaches out to your support team with an issue via chat. After understanding the customer’s issue, agent A escalates the customer to agent B, who launches a video cobrowsing session or voice call with the customer. An omnichannel strategy enables each agent to see the previous chat conversation to understand the issue at hand rather than asking the customer to repeat themselves.

Omnichannel marketing is tailor-made for the modern business environment. Specialized platforms provide engaging ways to meet your customers where they are, with insights that help you customize your strategies for the best return on your investment.

Knowing your customers is essential to any successful omnichannel approach. By understanding their preferences and behaviors, you reveal ideal ways to provide the best experience for them. It’s also crucial to understand their history with your brand to shape the best future.

Check out The Ultimate Guide to Omnichannel Marketing for more tips on how to create memorable omnichannel experiences.

Omnichannel vs. multichannel marketing

People often get multichannel and omnichannel mixed up. Many companies claim to offer omnichannel communications when, in fact, a multichannel approach is a more accurate description.

Let’s define both:

  • A multichannel marketing approach uses different channels to communicate with consumers and encourage them to convert.
  • An omnichannel marketing approach ensures data flows seamlessly across all channels, enabling a brand to deliver seamless and consistent customer experiences.

Still not clicking? Consider the root words. Multi refers to many, while omni means one. While a multichannel marketing approach offers many channels for customers to interact with your brand, these channels are siloed, resulting in a more scattered and less relevant experience for your customers. Omnichannel, on the other hand, ensures all your channels act as one, allowing customer information to flow freely across channels and empowering your business to create seamless experiences for your users.

Let’s compare these two marketing approaches in practice. Say a new customer browses your site and makes a purchase. Here’s how their experience might differ depending on whether your brand uses a multichannel or omnichannel marketing approach:

  • Multichannel: A week after making their first purchase, the customer receives a special promotion via email that offers 25% off their first transaction with your brand. The new customer feels frustrated because they didn’t receive the coupon before their purchase and now it’s irrelevant.
  • Omnichannel: By using past customer data and the new user’s browsing patterns, your brand understands where this potential customer is in their buyer’s journey and ensures they receive the first-purchase promotion before making their initial transaction. The new customer uses the discount code on their first purchase, and your business also sends them an upsell text or email a few days later recommending additional products to enhance their experience with the product they purchased.

While multichannel marketing is straightforward to implement, an omnichannel marketing strategy can drive better business results. With modern customers doing business online, in person, and a mix of both, companies need a complete view of all customer touchpoints to effectively serve them. This customer-first mindset is key to moving customers through the funnel and building loyalty that leads to sustainable revenue.

A review of omnichannel vs. multichannel marketing

Multichannel marketingOmnichannel marketing
- Uses multiple channels to communicate with and engage customers - Uses a fragmented, channel-specific view of the customer - Enables brands to engage customers on their favorite channels but can cause disjointed customer experiences- Connects all channels for a consumer to seamlessly switch between them without losing the context of their previous interaction - Uses a centralized data hub to create a holistic, real-time view of a customer’s journey - Enables brands to deliver consistent, personalized experiences for their customers

Why use omnichannel marketing?

Modern customers want you to engage them in rewarding and convenient ways. And with brand loyalty becoming a thing of the past, many consumers are opting to do business with brands that not only meet their needs but also deliver an exceptional experience. These new priorities aren’t going anywhere.

Simultaneously, modern customers also want to feel special. They want to be understood as individuals and have customized experiences accordingly. In fact, Twilio’s 2023 State of Customer Engagement Report found that 66% of consumers say they will quit a brand if their experience isn’t personalized.

Here are a few more statistics to put these growing trends into perspective:

  • 91% of customers are open to future purchases if the first impression with a brand is positive
  • 88% of customers consider the experience with a brand to be as important as its services or products
  • 69% of U.S. consumers admit they are more likely to shop with brands that offer consistent experiences in-store and online.

Given the financial benefits and customer goodwill that come from exceptional brand experiences, investing in an omnichannel marketing approach makes sense. Let’s look at four benefits of adopting an omnichannel marketing strategy:

  1. Collect more first-party data: With all your channels synced, you’ll get better insights into how your customers think and act. Enhanced attribution data empowers your business to build personalized customer experiences and track campaign results.
  2. Increase your brand consistency: Gone are the days of channel-specific campaigns. Omnichannel marketing helps campaigns effortlessly flow from one touchpoint to another—creating consistency for your prospects and customers. Using the same logo, tone, messaging, colors, and content scheduling across channels helps users recognize and trust your brand.
  3. Grow stronger revenue: When customers connect with your brand, they’re more likely to engage. Omnichannel marketing allows for more organic connections throughout the customer journey. As these positive impressions accumulate, your business can move customers toward conversion.

    However, the benefits of omnichannel marketing don’t vanish when a prospect converts. Consistent, connected experiences with your brand can turn one-time customers into life-long fans of your business.
  4. Build more personal connections: Customers feel overwhelmed by constant marketing content and advertisements, making it difficult for any brand to rise above the noise. The differentiator? Building personal connections. When you value your customers’ time and happiness by providing relevant and helpful communications, they’re more likely to return the favor by supporting your business.

Omnichannel marketing examples from top brands

Let’s explore some examples of how leading brands use omnichannel marketing to build exceptional customer experiences.

Veronica Beard builds omnichannel experiences across email, social media, and customer service

Amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, luxury retailer Veronica Beard partnered with Twilio Segment to merge data across customer touchpoints, enabling comprehensive support for online and offline customer interactions. With all its data centralized, the company efficiently takes action to create better marketing campaigns.

Here are a few examples of Veronica Beard’s omnichannel strategies:

  • Physical stores: Customers who prefer in-person shopping can visit any Veronica Beard retail store or find the company’s products at department stores, like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.
  • Social media advertising: Using first-party data, Veronica Beard uses advertisements geared toward former interested shoppers to win back their business.
  • Email: Informed customer profiles populated with respondents’ preferences enable personalized emails based on a user's interests and place in their customer journey.
  • Customer service: If customers need assistance, they can contact customer service via live chat, email, phone, or SMS. The support agent can then quickly pull up and reference all the user’s previous interactions with the brand, helping them serve the customer better and reach a positive resolution faster.

Using these channels together, Veronica Beard delivers customer-first experiences that foster repeat product discovery and purchases.

Sanofi builds omnichannel engagement to improve patient outcomes

Global healthcare company Sanofi helps healthcare providers (HCPs) learn about new medications to give the best possible care to their patients. Through its partnership with Segment, Sanofi has constructed dynamic customer profiles, harnessing critical data points such as prescribed medications, attended webinars, and sales interactions. The resulting comprehensive profiles, which center on the customers’ previous engagements with the brand, individual interests, and requirements, empower Sanofi to deliver tailored omnichannel experiences to its customers.

These omnichannel experiences include personalized:

  • Website experiences: Sanofi delivers personalized on-site communications based on previous online and offline user interactions.
  • Emails: Sanofi sends targeted messages to HCPs based on previous interactions, interests, and needs, helping HCPs discover new drugs that can benefit patients.
  • Support: Sanofi sales representatives use this customer knowledge to deliver timely treatment information to HCPs, resulting in more rewarding in-person interactions.

With all user data in one place, Sanofi activates personalized campaigns that drive conversions and bring the company closer to achieving its mission of helping individuals live healthier, fuller lives.

Deliveroo delivers on the omnichannel promise of seamless integration across channels

London-based food delivery website and app Deliveroo connects users with delicious food from nearby restaurants in just 30 minutes or less. To create a true omnichannel experience for its customers, Deliveroo allows users to choose how they want to receive updates on their latest order, whether via:

  • In-app messaging: For orders placed via the mobile app, Deliveroo can send mobile push notifications to update users when their order has been confirmed, picked up, and delivered.
  • SMS: Deliveroo also texts its users to share order notifications, marketing messages, and customer service updates.
  • Voice: Trouble with drop-off? Customers can call their driver via a masked number, allowing them to communicate in real time without compromising their privacy.
  • WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger: Users who place orders through the company’s website can opt in to receive order notifications via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

Using Segment, Deliveroo creates a flexible, convenient, and consistent experience across all touchpoints, helping the company turn “hangry” users into happy customers.

Vacasa strengthens omnichannel engagement

Vacation rental management platform Vacasa effectively delivers personalized messages to guests across all channels—removing friction from their vacation experience and helping them book and check in faster than ever.

With Twilio Engage, Vacasa consolidates customer data across channels to gain a holistic, real-time view of guests and homeowners. From there, Vacasa’s teams can tailor messaging across its website, app, email, and SMS alerts based on user behavior.

Here’s how Vacasa created an intelligent multichannel welcome sequence to remove friction from the guest check-in process:

  • Email: Guests receive a check-in email with a smart lock entry code the morning of their scheduled arrival.
  • SMS: JVacasa texts the entry code to guests just prior to check-in time, saving them from the hassle of scrolling through their inbox to retrieve it.
  • App: Visitors use features like one-tap Wi-Fi access to issue reports to help improve the quality of their stay.
  • Web: Customers view reservation details, message the host, and more on Vacasa’s desktop experience.

Using these omnichannel options, Vacasa guests get seamlessly welcomed to their vacation stays (on the channel they prefer) with key check-in information right at their fingertips.

How to successfully use omnichannel marketing

If your customer service team can serve customers via phone, email, text, and chat, you already use elements of omnichannel marketing within your organization. The next step is ensuring your data flows across these channels seamlessly, so your agents can serve your customers better and your brand can continue to build customer-first experiences.

Ready to level up your omnichannel strategy? Here are six tips for unlocking the full potential of your business’ omnichannel marketing tactics:

  1. Use real-time data to create “golden customer profiles”: While this is often easier said than done, a customer data platform (CDP) can help your business collect and consolidate data from all your customer data points. Then, you can create “golden profiles” or a comprehensive view of each customer that your business can use to deliver highly personalized offers and communications. Because a CDP tracks every customer, your business will then have the most accurate and up-to-date information to build your marketing campaigns.
  2. Review your brand guidelines to prepare them for omnichannel use: Consistency is crucial to omnichannel experiences. If your brand’s colors, logo, tone, messaging, and content are different across the many channels you offer, customers can get confused and lose trust in your brand. Be sure to review your cross-channel experiences and ensure your branding is the same across every channel you offer.
  3. Create a map of the customer journey to meet users’ needs at every step: At Twilio, we like to put ourselves in our customers’ shoes and encourage you to do the same. Map out your most common customer journeys to predict what channels your users will use to engage with your brand and what messaging and content they’ll need at each stage. Also, consider what factors could keep them from moving further down the funnel and how your business can remove those barriers.
  4. Leverage data to personalize your communications with each customer: When you take advantage of the vast amount of data you’ve collected from your customers, you can create personalized communications, such as sharing targeted content based on user interests, recommending products from past purchases, or giving high-value customers a complimentary gift with their next purchase.
  5. Make customer support a priority: Building customer-first experiences is the cornerstone of omnichannel marketing. By integrating all your customer support channels, like email, SMS, chat, and phone, with a tool like Twilio Flex, your agents can get context around a user issue in seconds, allowing them to find a resolution faster and serve your customers better. An omnichannel support strategy means your agents can pick up with a user right where they left off, even if they get disconnected or choose to continue their support request on another channel.
  6. Protect customer data and remain compliant: The success of any omnichannel marketing strategy depends on your continued ability to collect and act on customer data. Upholding customer trust is paramount, so it’s essential to secure users’ explicit consent for data collection. Being transparent about how you’ll use customer data also helps customers understand the value it provides and improves their willingness to share it with you.

However, don’t stop with these six tips. Remember that providing exceptional customer experiences is a journey, not a destination, so continue to review your results and find new ways to create meaningful touchpoints with your customers. This is a prime time for innovating and testing, and every good idea deserves a chance. Then, lean on your data to make decisions on how long you’ll keep each idea around.

Elevate your omnichannel marketing strategies with Twilio

At Twilio, our team of experts can help you continue the conversation with your customers, no matter where they are and what channel they use. By combining Twilio Segment’s CDP capabilities with channels like email, SMS, phone, and call center, your business can tailor messages across multiple channels at scale and serve your customers better.

Learn more about Twilio Segment and how it can power your omnichannel marketing efforts today at scale.