How exactly does omnichannel marketing work, and what kind of opportunities can it offer your small business? Explore the basics of omnichannel marketing strategies with this simple guide.

As an entrepreneur, you wear many hats — and so does your business. Even if you sell ultra-specialized products to a niche clientele, your business still needs to have a seamless online experience, a good social-media strategy, and savvy marketing to compete in today’s marketplace.

If you’ve ever felt at your wit’s end trying to connect these threads, omnichannel marketing might be your answer. Multichannel marketing is using every available marketing platform — print, web, email, social — to get your message out. Omnichannel marketing is finding a way to use all of those efforts in concert with one another.

It may sound a little technical, but it’s easier than it seems. It just takes a little bit of strategizing. Here’s an example:

Your company’s newsletter tells a potential customer about a sale. They read it, click through to your site, put some items in their cart, but don’t check out. A few hours later, they receive a text or email reminding them about the items they’d set aside. The customer finalizes the sale, and on the way home they stop by the brick-and-mortar storefront to pick the items up in person.

This is omnichannel marketing. At its core it’s a series of marketing efforts working fluidly in tandem with one another to make the customer experience as seamless as possible. So, how do you do it? Read on for some DIY (and non-DIY) tips for your small- or medium-sized business.


Curbing Platform Overload With Seamless Integrations

A Beginner's Guide to Omnichannel Marketing Strategies — Seamless Integration

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At any given moment, you may be using half a dozen different online platforms to reach your customers. For instance, your newsletter may go out with MailChimp, your online store may be run through Etsy, and you may use a marketing platform to handle all your social channels. It’s a lot of work for an SMB owner-operator, and these platforms may not offer seamless integrations.

If you can’t afford to hire a marketing manager to do this juggling for you, you’re still not out of the game.

There are many affordable omnichannel marketing platforms at your disposal. These platforms are often referred to as “customer experience management” or “relationship management” software. Their services offer seamless integration and communication between all your customer-facing products and services.

With omnichannel, “seamless” is the name of the game. Making sure your business not only preaches it, but also practices it, is essential to customer satisfaction and loyalty.


How To Do Omnichannel Marketing For Free

A Beginner's Guide to Omnichannel Marketing Strategies — Free Options

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If your business can’t yet afford to pay for customer experience management software, there are some DIY solutions to try.

It’s difficult to replicate the seamless customer experience that a paid omnichannel marketing platform or service can offer. With that in mind, here are DIY cheats to get you started until you can pay for a service.

You should first ask yourself which channels you can do reasonably well with the time you have. Omnichannel marketing means all your marketing efforts work in tandem. It will be obvious if one link in the chain is weaker than the others.

Once you’ve settled on the mediums you intend to use, consider where you want to direct people. It’s a good idea to pick one destination site for all your marketing efforts. For most SMBs, this is often the store’s website.

You can put a (free to create!) QR code on your printed and online materials that leads customers back to your site. You can tempt people to scan the QR code by offering a coupon or discount on their first purchase. Once they’re there, request their email address in order to deliver the coupon — and future newsletters, as well.

Make sure all the images in your newsletters link back to your website. Here’s a quick video tutorial on how. Also make sure to include the link to your website in your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook bios, as well as link to your site in your social posts.

These steps aren’t as advanced as the paid services, but it’s a thrifty, DIY way to organize marketing efforts. Consider them if you’ve got a tiny marketing budget, or if you’d like to try out omnichannel before committing.


Push for Content Marketing

A Beginner's Guide to Omnichannel Marketing Strategies — Content Marketing

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Whether you’ve got a big marketing budget or no budget at all, content marketing is becoming an essential way to reach customers and imbue the meaning of your company to them.

Content marketing can be visual or textual. For instance, you might write a blog post for your site on an industry-related topic, and on Instagram you might post a photo of a local influencer enjoying your products.

In order to make sure your content efforts contribute to your omnichannel marketing success, you should make sure all of your marketing materials link back to your website (or whichever linked asset you’re trying to promote in that particular campaign).


Get Involved In Your Community

A Beginner's Guide to Omnichannel Marketing Strategies — Community Involvement

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While it’s easy to engage with the world of brand influencers and bloggers online, marketers often overlook strategically engaging in live events happening in public spaces. These are great occasions to get your message out there with a captive audience that may already be attuned to the products and services you sell.

Live events are a great opportunity for word-of-mouth marketing, but omnichannel digs deeper. One great way to ensure a live event links patrons with your business is to create (or utilize existing) event-specific hashtags so that your marketing team can find and reach out to folk that were at the event afterward. It’s a great opportunity to offer a discount or coupon.

But you don’t have to wait until the event ends to engage with potential customers. Consider printing your QR code on business cards and postcards (leading to a digital coupon or a free sample, perhaps), to make a lasting impression on audiences.


Benefits of Omnichannel Marketing

A Beginner's Guide to Omnichannel Marketing Strategies — Benefits of Omnichannel Marketing

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Integrating your communication and marketing services helps to meet customers where they want to engage with you. You’ve got to be there every step of the way, ready to assist. Offering the same messaging on multiple communication channels and touch points quickly builds familiarity and trust with your brand. Customers begin to understand who you are, and that helps to build loyalty.

According to a joint report by McKinsey Research and the Harvard Business Review, omnichannel shoppers typically spend four percent more during their in-store shopping trips and a whopping 10 percent more online than single-channel consumers. The more channels a person uses, the higher the value of their purchase typically is, the report said.

It also increases customer satisfaction. Customers want to have a seamless experience where it’s easy to get from finding your product/service to enjoying it. If you can reach them on the channels that they prefer and offer them that seamless journey, they’re likely to enjoy that frustration-free venture and remember you the next time they want an easy solution.


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Top image via Indypendenz.