How Brands Need to Enhance Their Omnichannel Messaging | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

How Brands Need to Enhance Their Omnichannel Messaging


For years, marketers have recognized the need to eliminate the destructive competition between their online and offline sales teams. But just because retailers have largely stopped pitting teams with separate P&Ls against each other to drive revenues doesn't mean brands have realized ways to synthesize their omnichannel messaging and strategy.

Like most marketing goals, notions of consistency are easy to understand and get agreement on. The basis of being part of any multi-person enterprise is to find complementary strengths that pull everyone towards a clear goal — like generating more sales, for example.

But the potential for disconnect in consistency in marketing for in-store and e-commerce remains a challenge. While the mindsets for physical and digital purchase paths are different, obstacles remain in retailers' ability to seamlessly align sales, loyalty, and messaging drive brand affinity and customer experience across online and offline environments.

The first step involves seeing the various store channels as a customer sees them. As more consumers opt to buy online and pickup in-store, consumers can't be segmented into digital or physical shoppers. The view of the consumer needs to be unified according to all the attributes that led them to make a purchase.

The most important distinctions are in the ways the customer relates to the brand and the activity that follows. Are they a first-time shopper or are they a loyal, frequent customer? How do they prefer to shop and experience the brand? What kinds of messaging do they respond to?

Answering those questions is just the start.

The Omnichannel Imperative

In the past, brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce platforms operated as separate entities, often with their own marketing strategies, benchmarks, and teams. This siloed approach led to inconsistencies in messaging, promotions, and customer experiences, which could be confusing and frustrating for shoppers.

Today, however, the lines between physical and digital retail have blurred. Consumers expect a seamless and integrated experience, whether they are shopping online, in-store, or using a combination of both. This shift in consumer behavior has made omnichannel marketing not just a buzzword but a necessity for retail success.

Harnessing Data for Personalization

One of the key drivers of effective omnichannel messaging is data. Retailers have access to a wealth of customer data from various touchpoints, including online purchases, in-store interactions, and social media engagement. By leveraging this data, brands can create highly personalized and relevant messages for their customers.

For instance, if a customer frequently purchases a particular brand of running shoes online and occasionally visits the physical store to try on new arrivals, an effective omnichannel strategy would involve sending them targeted promotions and recommendations for running gear through both online and in-store channels. This personalization enhances the customer's experience and increases the likelihood of conversion.

Of course, no business strategy discussion of any kind can take place right now without considering the role of generative artificial intelligence in the creative and marketing process. Suffice it to say, the role of gen AI is limited at the moment of this writing at the end of 2023.

The changes ushered in by advances in AI are vast and accelerating daily. But for the foreseeable future, the role of AI tools will be confined to enhancing A/B testing of messages and creative. Online chatbots on retailers' websites can produce enormous support to customer service teams as well as faster, more immediate satisfaction to shoppers' queries.

For instance, AI and machine learning systems can predict customer preferences and behavior, allowing for even more personalized messaging.

And gen AI can surely build on a retailer's customer relationship management (CRM) processes and analytics right now. Anyone who isn't even experimenting with tech tools for their CRM programs is already desperately behind their rivals.

Additionally, the use of mobile apps and QR codes can even merge the digital and physical shopping experience by providing customers with real-time information, offers, and recommendations based on their location within the store.

Still, no one can hand the keys to an AI engine and call it a day. Retailers especially. Consumers expect a genuine, authentic voice from the brands they shop. Gen AI can improve and augment those genuine voices. But it can't replace human touch and human oversight. But ask me about that when it's time to offer year-end 2024 predictions.

Seamless Shopping Experiences

Omnichannel messaging isn't just about sending the same message across different channels; it's about creating seamless shopping experiences. Retailers should make it easy for customers to transition between online and in-store shopping, as well as leverage one channel to enhance the other.

For example, offering options like "buy online, pick up in-store" (BOPIS) not only provides convenience to customers but also encourages foot traffic into physical stores. At the same time, in-store promotions can promote online exclusives, driving traffic to the e-commerce platform.

The Role of Content Marketing

Content marketing plays a significant role in omnichannel messaging. Creating valuable and relevant content that educates, entertains, or informs your audience can drive engagement and loyalty. This content can be distributed across various channels, from blog posts and social media to in-store signage and email newsletters.

For instance, if your brand sells outdoor gear, you can create content that provides tips on hiking, camping, or outdoor adventures. This content can be shared on your website, social media platforms, and in-store displays, positioning your brand as a valuable resource for outdoor enthusiasts.

Embracing Customer Feedback

Listening to customer feedback is essential in refining and improving your omnichannel messaging strategy. Customer feedback can reveal pain points in the shopping journey, areas where messaging could be more effective, and opportunities for innovation.

Retailers should actively seek feedback through surveys, reviews, and direct interactions with customers. Analyzing this feedback and making meaningful adjustments to your messaging strategy demonstrates your commitment to meeting customer needs and expectations.

Enhancing omnichannel messaging is no longer an option for retail brands; it's a matter of differentiation and ultimately a matter of survival and growth.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Tim Ringel is the global CEO of the next-generation international advertising group at Meet The People.