Omnichannel marketing is one of those business-y buzz words that seem to never get explained properly. But luckily, Ann Handley, best-selling author and marketing extraordinaire, answered some questions and provided examples. That isn’t her only topic of discussion. She also talks about her big-picture ideas and describes how she specifically likes to utilize technology.
Ann described omnichannel marketing as dedicating yourself as marketers to deliver to your customer “a seamless and unified experience across every channel.” While she admitted that this is often referred to as multichannel marketing, Ann thinks that omnichannel marketing is actually much broader and encompassing.
“To me, it really refers to the overall brand experience that a customer has of you across any platform, any channel, in person, or online, every step of the way.”
She especially emphasized the customer-centric view that omnichannel creates, which is what really sets omnichannel apart. In multichannel marketing, things are looked at from the marketing team’s point of view rather than the customer.
HOW OMNICHANNEL HELPED A SHOE COMPANY RECOVER FROM A SLIP-UP
One example that Ann gave of omnichannel success was with a shoe company she had recently interacted with through their online platform. This was a trusted brand she has used before, and they didn’t adequately deliver on a customer service issue.
Later in the day, however, they reached back out to her to apologize for earlier, and said they have some “things going on.” Ann appreciated the communication about the mistake, and she understands that mistakes are unavoidable. Something that really could have lost this company a customer was turned around into a positive experience through omnichannel marketing.
WHY A COMPANY SHOULD THINK THROUGH THEIR BIGGER STORY
Ann also emphasized the importance of knowing your story, and how to think it through. This should be both from a content point of view as well as an omnichannel point of view. Ann stressed the importance of this while discussing the various questions companies should ask themselves.
One of these questions was “why are you in the business that you’re in,” and Ann thinks a good company should think through all aspects of this question.
She gave an example of a company she has recently written about: Baking Steel. This is a company that sells incredible baking sheets designed to give home chefs a better pizza-making experience. These high-quality baking sheets may be what Baking Steel sells, but Ann Handley thinks that they have done an excellent job on their story. She said that their “why” has to do with love. This is love of family, love of pizza, and coming together to experience them together.
Love has broadened Baking Steel’s horizons, and has a lot to do with their success. They publish recipes, help their customers find the best cheese, and discuss where they source their tomatoes from. All of these things help build their bigger story, the enjoyment of high-quality food with friends.
WHERE A COMPANY CAN USE THEIR VOICE
Ann’s thoughts on a business’s voice and tone were, unsurprisingly, very broad. She did not like the idea of limiting the use of these devices to only a newsletter or website. She thought this might undercut the bigger story, to neglect using tone and voice in some platforms but not others. Consistent use of personality through every platform can keep a company going strong.
One example she provided is through social media, how a story should encompass every way people come into contact with a brand. It’s easy to have a bland, boring social media presence, but personality shown through every step of the way is important for a company.
WHAT OMNICHANNEL MIGHT LOOK LIKE
MarketingProfs, where Ann Handley works as the Chief Content Officer, uses omnichannel marketing through their online and offline interactions with customers. MarketingProfs hosts a conference each year for marketing professionals, B2B Marketing Forum. Although marketing conferences are not uncommon, Ann pointed out how they work to make theirs stand out.
These conferences were designed to be a quirky, fun alternative for professionals. Ann worked to present it in this way through each channel, from what the website says to the proposition of the conference itself. The proposition says their conference is for people to gather and learn the latest in B2B marketing, but the proposition also says that people gather to “get belly laughs, and creative networking shenanigans, and after-dark antics.”
In addition to presenting the conference differently, Ann said she tries to present a different conference in person, too. She also boasted of their chat box that pops up on their B2B Marketing Forum website, with a real live person waiting to help with any questions.
WHO SHOULD BE USING OMNICHANNEL
This is an easy one, according to Ann, “You’re never too small to think through omnichannel.” Businesses of all sizes can take advantage of this type of marketing, and Ann Handley has highly recommended it.
ABOUT ANN HANDLEY
Ann Handley speaks and writes about how you can rethink the way your business markets. Cited in Forbes as the most influential woman in Social Media and recognized by ForbesWoman as one of the top 20 women bloggers, Ann Handley is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, a training and education company with the largest community of marketers in its category. Her book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-to Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content (Wiley), is a Wall Street Journal bestseller.
She is a former monthly columnist for Entrepreneur magazine, a member of the LinkedIn Influencer program , and co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (Wiley, originally published 2011. Paperback 2012.) The book has been translated into nine languages, including Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Portuguese and Czech. She currently has 350,000 followers on Twitter and writes about content, marketing and life here at AnnHandley.com.
A pioneer in digital marketing, Ann is the co-founder of ClickZ.com, which was one of the first sources of interactive marketing news and commentary. She started her career as a business journalist and editor.
Ann is based in Boston, Massachusetts, where she works from a tiny house in her backyard.