July 17, 2017 | Written by: Dan Caro
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Have you heard about omnichannel marketing strategies? Probably. Everyone’s talking about them – and for good reason. According to Invesp, “companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers.”
Let’s refresh: Online behaviors are email sends/opens, website visits, online purchases and social media interactions. Offline behaviors include speaking with support on the phone, catalogs and direct mailers and purchasing in-store. Omnichannel touches (campaign that uses more than one channel) allow marketers to bridge the gap between on and offline behaviors for a streamlined brand experience.
We’ll highlight brands that are taking advantage of omnichannel strategies in each of the categories below.
Snail mail + email
Contrary to popular belief, snail mail isn’t dead. According to USPS, “69% of people feel that mail is more personal than the internet.” With emails competing for our attention in the inbox, it’s refreshing to review direct mail from brands we love. Additionally, mailers don’t need to be at odds with email.
Amtrak recently sent out letters to explain a promotion to reward customers with Amtrak Rewards points if they opted in to receive emails.
Mark & Graham
Did you receive the Mark & Graham catalog in the mail? A few days later, they sent an email with the subject line: “Check your mail. The new catalog has arrived!” The email body clicked through to an online version of the catalog.
Email + in-store interactions
Not only can email and snail mail work together, but email and in-store interactions can work together, too. These interactions can be visits, purchases or returns made in-store. We wrote a post on email and in-store interactions for the Whereoware blog.
My wife purchased a dress from nordstromrack.com. The dress arrived and didn’t fit and the event was the next day. She went to Nordstrom Rack’s brick-and-mortar store to exchange it, but ultimately decided to return the dress at the counter. She walked out with the printed return receipt. Later, she received a transactional email with the subject line: “Your return is approved” with the order number, shipping and billing addresses, item details (including a picture) and refund amount.
At the checkout counter or keypad at self-checkout in Home Depot, the option to have the receipt emailed is presented. Enter the email address and an email with the subject line: “Your Electronic Receipt” will be sent to inbox.
Since most of our lives are stored on our phones, it’s easy to have the receipt saved in our inbox to have whenever we should need it.
Subscription boxes have seen a resurgence in the last few years due to the convenience and targeted customer experience. These are monthly (or whatever frequency you choose) services that send you physical products which either fit your style or you specifically choose. Some popular services are Birchbox (5 random test beauty products monthly), Bark Box (similar to Birchbox, but for your furry friend), Winc (3+ bottles of wine you choose) and Stitch Fix (5 semi-random clothing and accessory items).
Subscription services are great examples of omnichannel experiences. To break down why that is, we’ll use Stitch Fix as the example.
Stitch Fix users must sign up online or in the app and create their Style Profile by answering a comprehensive series of questions about their sizing, fit preferences, style likes and social media handles/URL to a Pinterest style board.
Then users can leave a note for their “stylist” explaining what type of items they would like to see in their next “fix” (shipment) and schedule the date they would like to receive the fix. This is all done online or through the app.
Once a fix is scheduled, an email is triggered as a sort of “order confirmation,” confirming the next fix is scheduled for the day chosen. Once the fix ships, a shipment notification email is triggered with a tracking number to track when the fix will arrive.
The fix arrives at your home or business. Included are five clothing or accessory items (e.g., shoes, purse, jewelry, scarf), a note from your stylist about why they chose the items they did, pictures of ways to style each piece for day and night, list of pricing for each item and a prepaid USPS bag to return unwanted items.
You are encouraged to try on all the pieces in the fix. And stylists prefer if you take pictures of yourself in the clothes and upload them to a blog that you shared in your style profile, so they can see how items fit you. Once you decide which items you want to keep and return, the next step is to “check out.”
You can check out online or in the app. For each item, you indicate if you are keeping or returning, how you would rate the fit, style and price, and leave any additional comments in the free text box. Then it shows you which items you are keeping vs. returning, and you check out. A receipt is then emailed to you with the amount charged to the credit card on file.
Any items you want to return can be placed in the prepaid USPS bag included in the fix and shipped back to Stitch Fix.
After you check out, you are prompted to leave another styling note and schedule your next fix – and the cycle starts again!
Let’s review the on and offline behaviors that occur during a Stitch Fix omnichannel experience: Start on web or in app, connect social media accounts or blog, receive emails when fix is schedule and shipped, try on items in the comfort of your own home, check out on web or in app and be prompted to schedule next fix, receive email receipt of kept items and ship back unwanted items in the USPS bag. Phew!
Bridge the gap
It’s important to bridge the gap with on and offline behaviors, so your customers keep your brand top of mind and feel supported whether at home interacting with your brand or in-store. Having a streamlined brand and customer experience is necessary for brand loyalty, especially in this age when brands are becoming more targeted and personalized to the consumer.
Need some help to get started? Start small. Can you tie your social media channels with your email marketing? If you have store locations, how about you send an email highlighting an in-store-only promotion to drive foot traffic? Think of ways you can start to bridge the gap, then build on it once you are more established and familiar.