Omnichannel Marketing Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

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According to Mitto and Demand Metric, more than 50% of marketing teams believe customers will be more demanding through 2022.

It makes sense why modern consumers ask more of brands. Advancements in retail technology make it possible for consumers to purchase with the click of a button.

Consumers can buy whatever, wherever, and whenever they want. As such, seamless omnichannel experiences are no longer a novelty—they are the expectation.

What’s more, businesses providing these cohesive and integrated shopping experiences are winning over competitors. 

Mitto and Demand Metric also found companies with an omnichannel strategy were three times more likely to report increases in yearly revenue and four times more likely to report extremely loyal customers.

While stats show companies with omnichannel strategies outperform those without, 87% of consumers report brands need to put more effort into providing seamless experiences.

This guide will cover everything you need to know to optimize your omnichannel marketing efforts.

Table of Contents

  1. What is omnichannel marketing?
  2. Why is omnichannel marketing important to a business?
  3. What are the benefits of the omnichannel marketing approach?
  4. What’s the difference between omnichannel marketing and multichannel marketing?
  5. How does omnichannel attribution work?
  6. Omnichannel marketing trends
  7. How to create an omnichannel campaign
  8. Omnichannel marketing examples
  9. How Shopify can help with omnichannel marketing

What is omnichannel marketing?

Omnichannel marketing is a fully integrated marketing approach that gives individual shoppers a unified, personalized experience across multiple customer touchpoints. 

SAB reports that compared to five years ago, customer touch points have more than doubled. These touchpoints include any point of contact a customer has with a brand, such as a website, social media, email, SMS, search, point of sale, and inside brick-and-mortar stores.

Today’s consumers expect seamless and cohesive shopping experiences—no matter where or when they come in contact with your brand. Consider the following:

Omnichannel marketing meets the demands of today’s tech-savvy consumers through highly personalized, consistent, and regularly updated marketing.

“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 at Conversion Engine.

Why is omnichannel marketing important to a business?

Omnichannel marketing meets customers’ needs with varying shopping options and preferences.

A 2022 Raydiant study reports that 56.6% of shoppers prefer to shop online. But shopping online can mean purchasing from a website, TikTok, Instagram, Amazon, email, or SMS.

And just because buyers prefer to shop online doesn’t mean they are only shopping online. A Shopify study found that 47% of the consumers preferred to buy from brands with a strong local presence.

In short, customers have varying shopping preferences. Brands invest in omnichannel marketing to meet customer demands—no matter where or how customers are shopping.

“With the introduction of new digital touchpoints and acceleration of consumer expectations, businesses now have to build entire brand ecosystems that leverage the right channels and messages, at the right time, to create a seamless consumer experience,” says Emily Fontana, head of digital marketing at 1 Rockwell.

Consumers research across several channels before buying

Not only do customers not shop exclusively on one platform, but 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, UK, Germany, and France reported they engage on at least 11 different touchpoints.

Lynn Power, co-founder & 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.”

This is why PWC’s 2020 study showed the number of businesses investing in omnichannel jumped from 20% in 2012 to 80% in 2020.

Omnichannel marketing meets customers’ expectations with smooth and seamless experiences across all physical and digital touchpoints. 

Sumeer Kaur, CEO and founder of ecommerce brand Lashkaraa, gives an excellent example of how this works.

“Omnichannel marketing creates a smooth customer experience,” Kaur says. “If they click on an Instagram ad and put an item in their cart but don't purchase it, they might get an SMS abandoned cart reminder on their phone or via email that contains a link which leads them back to their shopping cart on the company's website.” 

Omnichannel provides a cohesive and personalized customer experience

Retail sales growth across all channels is skyrocketing. In the US, total retail sales hit $1.1 trillion in Q1 of 2022, which is a 7.9% increase from 2021, according to Commerce Department data.

There’s no shortage of retail competition, with sales numbers booming to the tune of trillions of dollars. Brands that provide personalized experiences across all customer touchpoints are rewarded with loyalty. 

In fact, 91% of customers say they are more likely to buy from a brand that provides personalization. And companies with omnichannel customer engagement retain 89% of their customers.

Aleksandra Korczynska, CMO at GetResponse, explains why omnichannel marketing is the key to meeting customers’ demands for personalized experiences. 

“Omnichannel marketing puts the customer at the core and emphasizes sending only highly personalized messages,” Korczynska says. “The key idea is to tailor each marketing channel and message delivered through it to the customer’s interaction with the brand.”

Aaron Gray, co-founder of NO-BS Marketplace, echoes this sentiment: “Omnichannel marketing creates an entirely individual interactive experience—one in which a consumer’s behavior directly dictates which stage of the funnel they’ll enter next.” 

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that 60% of millennials expect a consistent experience from channel to channel—and brands are rising to the occasion.

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 marketing helps ecommerce merchants, brands, and retailers meet shoppers wherever they are.

The result is higher sales and improved engagement. For example, a 2021 Symphony RetailAI analysis of 421 million shopping baskets found that omnichannel grocery shoppers spend 20% more than customers who exclusively shop in stores.

Additionally, 85% of consumers say they prefer engaging with brands on both digital and physical channels, according to a study by CMO Council and Pitney Bowes.

2. Omnichannel marketing engages customers on an individual level

Sprout Social reports that 64% of consumers say they want brands to engage with them. 

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,” Flood says.

“People don’t remember brands that don’t engage them. By being everywhere [customers] are with an omnichannel strategy, you grow engagement, which drives goodwill toward your brand.”

Providing accurate, personalized marketing across platforms is one example of positively engaging your audience, and customers respond well to these efforts. 

According to Epsilon, 80% of respondents indicated they were more likely to do business with a company if it offered personalized experiences, while 90% indicated they find personalization appealing. 

Brian Nagele, CEO of Restaurant Clicks, explains why 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.”

Personalization also contributes to customer satisfaction and increased sales. McKinsey found 71% of customers expect companies to personalize, and companies offering outstanding personalization generate 40% more revenue.

3. Omnichannel marketing makes shopping convenient for cross-platform shoppers

McKinsey found nearly 75% of customers have tried a new shopping behavior since 2020 and that shopping across platforms is on the rise, with 60% to 70% of today’s consumers buying online and in-store.

What’s more, 83% of consumers say convenience while shopping is more important to them now than five years ago, and 97% say they’ve backed out of an inconvenient purchase.

Today’s consumers have new shopping patterns, and they favor convenience now more than ever. 

Travis Lindemoen, managing director of Nexus IT Group, explains, “The primary objective of omnichannel marketing is to simplify the shopping experience, which requires continuous engagement, regardless of where or how a customer interacts with you.”

Omnichannel marketing is the key that helps ecommerce merchants nurture customers throughout their buying journey and meet them with consistent messaging and attention across platforms. 

“If you have an omnichannel strategy, your team or products are always just a click, an email, a direct message, or a phone call away, no matter where they are,” says Harry Hughes, CEO of Dangler.

4. Omnichannel marketing increases customer retention and lifetime value

Research shows brands that boost engagement efforts to retain 5% more customers see an increase in profitability of up to 95%.

Joe Troyer, CEO and growth adviser at ReviewGrower, explains how omnichannel marketing increases loyalty. He says, “Shoppers who use several channels are more likely to be around for a lengthy time. 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 with Troyer. He explains the ultimate benefit of omnichannel marketing: “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. 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-stores 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. 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,” says Robert Smith, head of marketing at Psychometric Success.

If you’re a retailer with physical stores and ecommerce stores, omnichannel marketing offers an opportunity for you to create integrated experiences to 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 process of attributing sales and conversions to the specific channels 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 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.)
  • Use cookies (for now), tags, user IDs, and UTM codes
  • 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 all relevant analytics tools and tracking data to capture relevant and helpful data. With these insights, marketers can improve marketing efforts and boost the ROI of marketing campaigns.

Stephen Heffernan, digital marketer at The Connected Narrative, explains what marketers should look for in an attribution tool. He says ideally, “a dashboard would show how many customers were acquired from each channel, what the ROI was for each channel, and which 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 expert marketers mentioned.

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 online and offline shopping experiences with QR codes. The number of US smartphone users scanning QR codes will increase from 83.4 million in 2022 to 99.5 million by 2025.

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. 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,” says Jonathan Roque, content marketing manager at Smile.io.

2. Live ads + QR codes + TikTok videos

Marketers also use QR codes on live ads to drive traffic back to TikTok. 

Michael Miraflor, chief brand officer at Hannah Grey VC, saw Mulberry use this strategy and posted about it on Twitter.

Miraflor explains that 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.

“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 towards 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. Research from CMI reports 79% of marketers say combining interactivity with other key marketing tactics increases messaging retention.

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. 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 customers 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 andricks, 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

This year, we’re seeing more online brands move their products into physical locations. Some brands like Allbirds and Parachute Homes are opening their own stores to be closer to suburban shoppers. 

Other brands 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 its sales. 

In his tweet, he said, “Olipop has increased door count by about 50% since the start of the year (excluding Walmart launch)” and that “sales have not declined one bit and Amazon sales have increased over 50% since the start of the year.”

Kolovson also tweeted that “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

Leverage customer data to create a personalized experience in-store and online 

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, the 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.

Flood adds:

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.”

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. 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 relationships,” says Ravariere. 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 automation. 

For example, brands (including Shopify Plus merchant Pura Vida Bracelets) are now seeing up to a 60% lift in digital revenue from AI-driven personalization powered by Bluecore’s ability to combine Shopify product catalog data with shopper data. Campaign production time has also been reduced by 85%, with the ability to create and execute personalized campaigns in minutes. 

Omnichannel marketing examples

Lounge Underwear

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. 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,” writes Kiran Bains, head of paid media at Lounge Underwear.

“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 receive 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 service on every touchpoint. Delivering personalized and timely responses was also important to the brand.

The brand reached out to Attentive to launch it 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 uses 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 account for 18% of Big Blanket Co.’s total revenue.

Sephora

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, given 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.” 

Want more omnichannel marketing examples? Read our posts on examples of omnichannel brands and what you can learn from them.

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.

About the authors

Jessica Wynne Lockhart

Jess is an award-winning Canadian freelance journalist and editor currently based in Australia. Her writing has appeared in ChatelaineenRouteThe Globe & Mail, and The Toronto Star, amongst others. Learn more about her work at jesslockhart.com.

Ashley R. Cummings

Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer, specializing in commerce, marketing, and SaaS. Connect with her on Twitter!

Check out Ashley R. Cummings’s work