4 Tips for Effective Omnichannel Marketing

Two reasons why I love the startup scene:

  • It's fascinating, challenging, and deeply rewarding.
  • Every project offers new insight.

The last one is significant. I'm lucky to partner with amazing folks that build amazing products and services. Best of all, every project has taught me an invaluable business lesson. Here's a perfect example:

A recent project required that I dive into the world of SaaS in omnichannel retail. Although it was a short sprint, the complexity of the industry meant there were many lessons to be learned. If you're an early stage startup in omnichannel, here are 4 tips to help you along your journey. Here we go!


#1 Continue Customer Research 

Qualitative and quantitative research is usually a part of concept validation, but did you know you'll need to keep testing to help the rest of your team and to prevent customer churn? In fact, lack of customers is rarely the problem; them leaving is what gets you in the red zone. 

 I know this is particularly challenging in the omnichannel retail industry. For example, my recent project had multiple customers to consider (aka buyer/marketing personas). The software had to meet the needs of big box retailers and small boutique owners while simultaneously providing an engaging end-user experience for their consumers. Additionally, the software also had to appeal to retail real estate developers who determined whether or not we could implement our platform into their malls. 

This was tough, but there was an even greater challenge. 

Aside from real estate contracts, there were no paying customers to supply data that we could decode into actionable insights. This was a problem because we needed to continue to test the product to ensure things like marketing materials and the onboarding funnel were optimized.

If you're in a similar situation and don't have customers, consider building or re-using interactive mockups from the validation stage, and enlist the help of paid focus groups, volunteers, and (if you have them) early adopters. 

Here are a few research focus areas to consider:

Despite challenges, the goal is to help your team learn which efforts create value and which are wasteful. 

The UI interviews and surveys you conduct helps your marketing team craft pitch decks and marketing campaign materials that accurately deliver your products' message. Feedback from focus groups reveals necessary product changes that optimize end-user experience, one of the most important KPI's in omnichannel retail. 

 
#2 Build Your Onboarding Funnel Early & Iterate

Here's another reason to use qualitative research; it will help you build your onboarding funnel early. Why does this matter? Well in the ad-libbed words of Don Peppers and Martha Rogers:

"If you don't have customers, you aren't making money, and if your product isn't making money, you don't have a business you have a hobby."

I get it. Most startups won't know who their customer is before they launch. However, developing onboarding strategies early ensures your team is well equipped with a blueprint that prevents leaks before they occur. 

Having a vague onboarding funnel that more closely resembles a product roadmap isn't enough. You need time to create a high-quality onboarding funnel that converts by the time you launch. Additionally, developing a successful onboarding process takes time! A well-designed landing page needs rounds of A/B testing as do product mockups, tutorials, and any other web/media content you rely on to convey your products' message. 

Here are additional onboarding details to look out for and consider:

  • Figure out how to manage customer service. Will you use software that helps you keep it in-house, or will you outsource it to an agency? Will you offer SMS or email customer service?
  • Do you need to use onboarding tools? If so, which are best? (I love the look and ease of Appcues although it is pricey.)
  • Personalize the experience! Keep track of customer communications with a reliable CRM, and use an email campaign builder that has first name features and automated workflow triggers. 

The second part is developing a process of constant experimentation and iteration. Understanding this is valuable whether you're in the omnichannel retail industry or not. In the words of Brian Balfour:

"The mentality of 'done' is the exact opposite of the mentality of high-performance growth teams. Change is constant. Change is difficult. Not adapting to change is fatal."

In retail,  ghost malls across America are perfect examples of what happens when failure to change is fatal. If you wish to prevent the same fate for your SaaS, onboarding is just another part of your product roadmap that will need continual tweaks. Keep your customer acquisition healthy!

#3 Leverage Location & Mobile Marketing

I won't delve into this point as thoroughly, I mean if you're a software startup that provides omnichannel solutions, I'm willing to bet you know all the hacks that give you access serious results in local and mobile marketing. Instead, here's an acquisition strategy you may not have considered.* 

83% of eCommerce retail leaders leverage mobile and social channels to engage with customers. Why not find potential product adopters in the same way? 

Finding local retail leaders who are active on social platforms makes it easier to pitch your product. 

Aside from demonstrating a potential eagerness to use your product, your team will have the opportunity to understand the retailers' brand voice, social habits, and their consumers. All of this data will give you the opportunity to craft a personalized value proposition that will be likelier to convert.

* implementing this strategy may be more appropriate for marketing and sales teams.

#4 Develop A Cross-functional Team 

The online-to-offline retail space calls for a multidisciplinary, seamless approach to attract, convert and RETAIN your target customer. Although you may not be at a stage where churn is an issue your team should always think about your product on a holistic, growth minded level. Aside from customer development, another important question is:

How do you minimize customer drop-off and keep customers? 

First, understand that the work doesn't end after a product launch or conversion (this is where growth oriented marketers are a huge asset). Continued customer engagement, education, and building customer loyalty with things like reward incentives, will significantly impact your retention strategy.  

Secondly, ensure you have a strategy that allows your team to continue to prioritize the customers and not the product. Do this by championing cross-functional collaboration. Being agile enough to bounce ideas and experimentation within your team is what delivers a seamless experience. However, this doesn't mean one man can do it all. That's a huge mistake! Instead, hire the right person for the right role that is also comfortable executing on a wide range of responsibilities. For example hire a great sales team that can design and launch an effective email marketing campaign, and hire a marketing team that may need to lead internal team organization and operations. 

Pro-Tip:

Since we are talking about the retail industry, leverage the experts and hire a sales team (or person) with the right corporate contacts that are higher up the chain. It will help tremendously and speed up any marketing outreach efforts.


I hope this has been helpful! Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section below. If you'd like to privately pick my brains on the subject, feel free to request a complimentary consultation! As always, I'm happy to help.


Be Well,

Gabriella Cook