What Is Omnichannel Marketing? Definition, Examples, and Strategy

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover omnichannel marketing, why it’s important for designing a customer journey, and how to build your omnichannel marketing strategy.

[Featured Image] An omnichannel marketing team meets in an office.

What is omnichannel marketing? 

Omnichannel marketing is an approach to promoting and selling products that serve three main purposes: 

  • Deliver consistent brand messaging across all marketing channels as customers move through the awareness, consideration, and decision stages of the buyer’s journey.

  • Provide customers with a seamless customer experience from the first touchpoint to the last, including social media, SMS, email, live events, or experiences at a physical location.

  • Engage customers after they make a purchase to inspire their loyalty.

Omnichannel marketing is becoming more common as businesses leverage technology to integrate marketing channels and close the gap between different touchpoints. Chances are you’ve had an omnichannel experience with various brands and benefitted from the convenience it offers. Common examples include being able to order a product online and pick it up in-store and receiving push notifications that you’ve abandoned an online cart.  

An omnichannel marketing strategy offers several potential business benefits, including:

  • Reducing costs of acquiring customer data

  • Obtaining valuable customer insights 

  • Attracting new market segments

  • Boosting sales 

  • Keeping customers engaged after a sale

  • Inspiring customer loyalty

Omnichannel vs. multichannel marketing 

Omnichannel and multichannel marketing share some similarities in that both approaches involve interacting with customers on multiple channels to increase brand visibility. 

You'll need to keep an important difference between these marketing approaches in mind. Omnichannel marketing creates a seamless customer journey by connecting one channel to another and using unified messaging. A multichannel marketing strategy can increase potential customers' chances to interact with your brand but may not integrate their experiences at each touchpoint. This could result in a disrupted journey through the awareness, consideration, and decision stages of making a purchase.

Omnichannel marketing examples 

The examples below show how well-known brands in different industries leverage technology to offer omnichannel buying experiences. Use these to draw inspiration for your omnichannel marketing strategy. 

Retail

Brands like Target and Nike are leveraging mobile apps to drive sales in the retail industry. Target’s mobile app now features an integration with Pinterest’s Lens so that customers can take a picture of something they like and see similar items available at Target. Nike’s mobile app allows customers to reserve in-store products, thus avoiding wasted trips, and scan product barcodes in-store to find out more information.

Recreation and entertainment

In the recreation and entertainment industry, Disney’s My Disney Experience mobile app allows customers to plan trip details, navigate parks, select attractions and check wait times, check in to restaurants, save photos, and more.

Food service

The Tim Hortons app allows customers to order online for in-store pickup, earn rewards for Tim Hortons purchases, and get a special treat on their birthday. 

Rideshare

In the rideshare industry, the Uber app allows customers to book and manage a trip, share trip status with phone contacts, and, more recently, order meals from Uber Eats while in transit and get notified of UberEats deals. 

How to build your omnichannel marketing strategy 

When building a strategy to reach target customers on multiple channels, it’s important to prioritize customers’ needs, desires, and preferences. That way, you can create a personalized customer experience for wherever they are in their buyer’s journey. 

Collect and analyze customer data.  

This step aims to understand which channels and platforms your target customers prefer and how they behave on each one. With this kind of data, you can focus your energy on optimizing and connecting important touch points so that customers enjoy interacting with your brand and progress easily toward a purchase:   

  • Where do your target customers shop, including physical stores and online platforms?

  • What devices do they use to shop?

  • What challenges, barriers, delays, and issues do they face while shopping?

  • How do they interact with brands at each touchpoint?

Map your omnichannel customer journey. 

Your goal for this step is to design a customer journey that offers ease and convenience. 

First, use the data you collected to list every customer touchpoint, including:

  • Discovery of your brand and products

  • Learning about your products and making a purchase 

  • Experiencing a product after a purchase

  • Requesting customer support 

  • Accessing a community of fellow customers 

  • Seeking out your brand again for subsequent purchases 

Next, identify which marketing methods you’ll use to engage and serve customers at the various touchpoints. For example, digital ads can attract people to your brand while they’re active online, while post-purchase email surveys can keep customers engaged and allow them to influence future products and experiences. Be sure to prioritize target customers’ favorite platforms. Then, refine the messaging on all channels and at every touchpoint to enhance the experience with your brand. 

Tip: As you grow your business and identify a more diversified customer base, you may need to design a unique omnichannel experience for different customer segments.

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Establish omnichannel brand guidelines. 

To create a consistent look and feel across all marketing channels, you’ll need to define a set of omnichannel brand guidelines. 

Review your business’s general brand guidelines, including the mission statement, values, voice, and visual brand identity. Next, determine how these components will appear in your omnichannel experience. For example:

  • Where will your logo be positioned at every touchpoint? 

  • Which messaging elements will change as customers move from one touchpoint to another?

  • What words, phrases, calls-to-action, instructions, product information, and other messaging elements need to be consistent throughout? 

Distribute the omnichannel brand guidelines to your entire team and train them to implement brand elements at every touchpoint. 

Implement your omnichannel marketing strategy and test results. 

Part of any successful marketing endeavor is continually testing and measuring results. Where do customers experience friction along their journey? What can you adjust to improve interactions and lead more customers to sales? 

A marketing and sales automation tool can make coordinating customers’ experiences across channels easier, managing your storefronts from one platform, providing customer support, inspiring loyalty, and optimizing your efforts to improve results. Here are three tools to investigate:

Watch this video from the University of Pennsylvania on Omnichannel Retail Strategy Specialization to learn more about omnichannel marketing and how to make it customer-centric.

Improve your marketing with Coursera. 

Taking online courses can be a great way to build marketing skills for your business or fill a marketing position at a company. 

Learn customer-centered omnichannel strategies, how to integrate online and offline spaces, evaluate digital platforms, and more by taking the Omnichannel Retail Strategy Specialization offered by the University of Pennsylvania.   

Interested in marketing on Meta and Instagram? Learn how to craft social media content, design and manage ads, and more with the Meta Social Media Marketing Professional Certification.

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