How to develop an effective omnichannel strategy

Recent reports released this month show a stark decline in UK footfall, with figures dropping by 1.3% in January, compared with the previous year. This may not seem like much, but it is considered a steep decline when compared with other flux.

This is countered by a boost in online sales, and with an even greater shift towards online retail expected in 2017, it’s prime time for brands to focus their attention on optimizing their omnichannel strategy.

Recently, it’s becoming more and more apparent that offline and online channels are intrinsically linked, with marketing activities in one area heavily impacting performance in the other.

Research conducted by Think with Google only serves to validate this point, stating that 82% of smartphone users consult their phone while shopping in a physical location. A brand’s strategy needs to be aligned with this kind of consumer activity to encourage seamless purchasing.

Given the advances in technology and decline in UK footfall, it’s more important now than ever to ensure your digital and, in particular, your organic activity compliments and encourages bricks and mortar sales.

In this blog we’ll discuss:

  • The progression of ‘Multichannel’ to ‘Omnichannel’
  • The value of organic search data in supporting an omnichannel strategy
  • Which US fashion retailer is owning organic search, and how they stand to benefit both online and off

The importance of an ominchannel strategy - Sophie Moule - Pi Datametrics

 

What’s the difference between a ‘Multichannel’ and an ‘Omnichannel’ strategy?

Many of us realized long ago that we need to maintain a sort of omnipresence across different platforms (Offline: in-store, television, print media, Online: social media, organic search, paid search etc.) if we’re to stand a chance of engaging with our customers and enhancing our commercial performance. This would be a ‘Multichannel’ approach to marketing.

An ‘Omnichannel’ approach is simply linking those disconnected marketing activities together to increase our chances of making a sale – and brands are beginning to wake up to the value of this synergy.

According to a study conducted by marketing agency Harte Hanks, 20% of companies had applied an effective omnichannel strategy. Those companies with an omnichannel mindset had seen a 9.5% YOY increase in revenue, as opposed to the 3.4% rise experienced by those with disconnected marketing activities.

Leveraging search trend data to support an omnichannel strategy

Our recent report on search trends reveals peaks in consumer demand across organic search, and highlights the importance of using data to dramatically influence both online and offline strategy.

Brands need to assess the value of organic in driving footfall sales, when it comes to Research Online, Purchase Offline (or ROPO) customer activity.

Not all sales will be fulfilled online. Some consumers research online to purchase in store. If you drop out of top positions for highly researched terms, you won’t just lose ROI online; your in-store sales will suffer too.

How do you create an effective omnichannel strategy?

PR, blogger outreach and content teams need to work alongside SEO teams to create content that is both innovative and visible to the right audiences at the time of peak search demand, based on forecasted search trend data.

Implementing long-term content optimization and evergreen landing page strategies is key to ensuring that consumers have access to the research they need in order to make a seamless purchase; be it online or in-store.

Brands combining bricks and clicks are currently ruling retail right now.

Nordstrom get it right at the right time

Based on our proprietary Organic Value Score (an average of all key metrics used to determine a search terms’ intrinsic value and potential to convert – not merely search volume) we discovered the most commercially competitive womenswear search terms and themes. Nordstrom reigned the US womenswear sector online in 2016.

Nordstrom performs top for the most Organically Valuable search theme ‘Dresses’

The ‘Dresses’ theme was by far the most valuable area, with almost double the Organic Value of the next most competitive theme: ‘Lingerie’.

Trending this Organic Value throughout the year, we were able to discover demand peaks, where Organic Value was at its highest.

Not only do Nordstrom perform best for some of the top search themes, they ‘Get it right at the right time’ for the most Organically Valuable search theme ‘Dresses’, as their performance or ‘Estimated traffic’ is most closely aligned with the trended Organic Value peaks.

Nordstrom get it right at the right time

Nordstrom's trended organic value score in US womenswear fashion - Pi Datametrics search trend data  

Nordstrom’s performance across the ‘Dresses’ search theme most closely matches the trended peaks in overall womenswear Organic Value

 

Nordstrom has invested huge sums into developing their omnichannel activities over the past couple of years, and evidently see the value of consolidating their marketing assets, to create a customer-centric model that’s ripe for conversion.

Being organically visible at the point of search demand for the most commercially competitive and highest converting search terms can pay dividends. Whether a consumer is researching, purchasing or merely browsing, strong organic presence can greatly impact sales – digitally or otherwise.

In fact, we’ve seen many instances of major retailers losing organic visibility, and seeing a significant dip in bottom-line bricks-and-mortar profits as a result. The consumers who had been researching online with the view to purchasing in-store had ultimately failed to discover the brand.

Research Online Purchase Offline: How does organic search support in-store sales?

Maintaining strong organic presence during research and influence months can play a vital role in steering the customer towards a purchase; especially in the light of declining footfall.

If you’re losing customers in-store, you need to make sure you find them via another medium – and out of all digital channels (PPC, Social, Email etc.), organic is the one that delivers time and time again, at minimal expense.  

What’s more, organic gives you the opportunity to forecast and dictate holistic marketing strategies well in advance of peak demand, with accessible and cost-effective data.

Our key takeaways:

    • Online and offline marketing activities are intrinsically linked and should be treated as such.
    • Applying an omnichannel strategy is key to optimizing the path to conversion.
    • The value of organic search should not be overlooked. It’s not always the last touchpoint, but can be the critical link when it comes to realizing sales or conversions.
    • All teams, digital or otherwise (i.e. SEO, content, PR, buying and merchandising etc.) need to collaborate with one another to prime every customer touchpoint for conversion; whether that’s by using forecasted search trends to inform stock take, or unanimously reacting to spontaneous demand.
    • With declining footfall, now is the time to sync digital activities with bricks and mortar trading, to avoid lost sales and capitalize on all forms of demand.

If you’d like to discuss your omnichannel strategy in more detail, get in touch:

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Read our search trend report for more Research Online Purchase Offline tips

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