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What is omnichannel marketing? Examples & tips for ecommerce

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If you’re like a lot of marketers, you hear the term “omnichannel marketing” tossed around.

And … you’re embarrassed to admit that you’re not sure what it means and what makes it special.

Or … you think you know. But you wouldn’t bet your money on correctly answering the question, “What is omnichannel marketing?”

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to explain:

  • Exactly what omnichannel marketing means (omnichannel definition)
  • What differentiates it from multichannel marketing
  • How to begin formulating an omnichannel marketing strategy for your own business

Looking to build your own omnichannel marketing strategy? Download our Complete Guide to Omnichannel Marketing Automation to:

  • Learn why and how to go omnichannel
  • Easily develop a comprehensive strategy
  • Increase customer engagement and sales

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What is omnichannel marketing?

Omnichannel marketing is the practice of carrying out marketing campaigns using all types of channels, platforms, and devices to promote your products or services to customers and prospects. Whatever the interaction or channel, the messaging, visuals, and overall experience of an omni-channel marketing campaign should be consistent and relevant to the individual.

Thus, a marketing approach that is omnichannel in nature creates seamless messaging across channels. Each channel works together—and we stress “works together”—to create a unified message and voice for your brand. For instance, an omnichannel marketing strategy would ban sending an SMS message about a particular product to someone who just purchased it.

Omnichannel is built on the premise that underlying data is automatically updated, triggering your messaging across all channels to adjust as well. It makes for an integrated shopping experience, from the first touchpoint to the last.

Still scratching your head? A few simple omnichannel marketing examples might help clear the confusion:

  • A customer receives an SMS message about a promotion while shopping in store
  • A promotional email alerts recipients to check their mailbox for a physical postcard with coupons
  • A shopper is retargeted on Facebook with the product they abandoned in their online shopping cart
Cider attempts to attract the cart abandoner with a carousel ad
Cider attempts to attract the cart abandoner with a carousel ad

Omnichannel vs. multichannel marketing

You may wonder why we’re focusing so much on the omnichannel meaning and ignoring the term multichannel. They’re not interchangeable because there are clear differences.

Image shows differences between Omnichannel vs. multichannel marketing

Multichannel marketing:

  • The brand is at the center of your marketing strategy
  • Primarily static communication, with messages that are relatively the same, sent across several channels
  • Channels don’t update and personalize to suit your customers’ needs
  • Channels operate independently

Omnichannel marketing:

  • The customer is at the center of your marketing strategy
  • The message changes and adapts to how the customer has interacted with your brand
  • The customer’s behavior prompts updates to each channel
  • Channels work together
Key differences explaining Omnichannel marketing

If there’s one key word to distinguish multichannel marketing from omnichannel marketing, it’s integration. Simply, channels are interconnected.

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Benefits of an omnichannel marketing strategy

Rytis Lauris, CEO and co-founder of Omnisend, has been a vocal proponent of omnichannel marketing for years. He says its biggest benefit is making marketing relevant not only for brands, but for the customer. 

There is a level of personalization that can only be achieved by omnichannel marketing. When you provide this relevancy, customers respond better to it, they purchase more, and they come back more often.”

Rytis Lauris, Omnisend CEO and co-founder

Research supports Lauris’ claims that brands should focus on the customer by leveraging multiple channels in their communications, versus focusing on channels individually.

In each case below, we define “omnichannel campaign” as using at least three channels. We found: 

  • Higher engagement: In 2020, Omnichannel campaigns earned an 18.96% engagement rate. Those using single-channel campaigns saw a 5.4% engagement rate.
  • Higher order rate: In 2021, omnichannel campaigns earned a 494% higher order rate than those depending on just one channel (0.83% versus 0.14%). Bonus: When you use SMS as one of the channels within an omnichannel marketing initiative, the conversion rate improves by 429%.
Omnichannel marketing statistics show that Omnichannel campaigns perform better than single-channel campaigns
  • Higher spend rate: Customers engaging with omnichannel campaigns spent, on average, 13% more than those engaging with single-channel campaigns.
  • Higher customer loyalty: Marketers using omnichannel campaigns experienced a 90% higher retention rate than those using single-channel campaigns.

If omnichannel digital marketing can bring in the customers that are going to be most valuable to you or, better, transform your customers into more valuable customers, this is definitely a tactic worth trying.

In other words:

“Omnichannel is the real holy grail of marketing automation.”

Rytis Lauris, Omnisend CEO and co-founder

How to build an omnichannel marketing strategy?

Omnichannel marketing is suitable for businesses of all sizes and is increasingly becoming more available. Even smaller and growing ecommerce marketers are seeing the benefits of launching an omnichannel marketing strategy.

In fact, a whopping 67% of ecommerce decision-makers saw omnichannel strategy as important or very important for their business in 2021.

However, as with any marketing effort, it’s important to lay a good foundation before rushing ahead.

1. Get your whole team on board

A successful omnichannel strategy requires buy-in from everyone. They need to agree to make the customer the brand’s focal point, and to work together.

This extends beyond the marketing team.

After all, working in silos is counterintuitive to the fundamental notion of omnichannel marketing. Your channels work together to create a better customer experience through omnichannel. And so should your team members.

2. Analyze your customer data

Customer data is at the heart of driving customer operations in an omnichannel approach. Every member of your team should be using data to create a better experience for the customer.

For example:

  • Marketers need data to send the most relevant message to customers at the right time
  • The product team needs it for merchandising the products that customers appreciate the most
  • Customer success representatives need it for maintaining consistent conversations

The more that each team member knows about your customers, the better they’re able to respond to and interact with them.

So how do you get a better look at your customers? We have some pointers:

  • Examine your brand’s customer experience from all angles. Go through a full purchase on your site, interact with all of your channels, and place a ticket with customer service. Pull in external people to help evaluate your customer experience for greater authenticity.
  • Gather customer feedback. Get it straight from the horse’s mouth. Ask your customers for feedback at several stages of the customer journey by using a customer satisfaction mechanism. Offer surveys and incentives to encourage responses.
A customer feedback survey from Lush Cosmetics
A customer feedback survey from Lush Cosmetics

3. Appropriately target your messages

Fruitful omnichannel digital marketing hinges on personalization. The best way to target your message, now that you have all that nifty data on your customers, is to segment your subscribers into smaller lists.

Assigning contacts to different categories, based on similar traits, makes it easier to send personalized messages. These traits could include:

  • Profile data: demographics, age, gender, marital status, location, etc.
  • Campaign engagement: how your customers interact with certain campaigns and channels
  • Shopping behavior: where your customer is in their customer journey, how often they shop, when they purchased last, etc.
RFM Analysis in Omnisend
An example of segmentation with Omnisend

With a platform like Omnisend, you can easily create segments for subscribers who purchased in the last 30 days, subscribers who haven’t made a purchase in at least 90 days, those who spend the most, and so much more. And, it’s possible to combine segments to create even more precise segmentation.

4. Optimize for mobile

Everyone has a smartphone. As a result, mobile optimization is a must for any marketer.

From 2018 to 2021, mobile ecommerce sales have grown by 22% from 2.91 to 3.56 billion. Moreover, they’re projected to climb even higher in 2022. To make mobile even more relevant, almost three out of every four dollars spent by shoppers on online purchases are done via mobile.

With this in mind, you should make sure that your omnichannel campaigns are 100% mobile-optimized.

If you already use Omnisend, though, mobile optimization isn’t a concern.

Everything you send via Omnisend, including all of your emails, texts, and promotions, is already optimized for mobile so you don’t have to spend any additional time or effort to make it mobile-friendly.

5. Test, measure and test again

Your omnichannel marketing strategy will improve over time as you collect and analyze customer data. Robust marketing platforms give you loads of insights into your performance, from an overall sales dashboard to advanced reporting that shows aspects like segmentation performance and highest money-making campaigns.

Example of a campaign report snapshot within Omnisend
Example of a campaign report snapshot within Omnisend

This means you need to be active about testing components like different messages, headers/subject lines, images and send times.

Test your processes regularly to see which segments best respond to particular kinds of messages. If you track and measure your data regularly, you are bound to find the perfect formula.

David Sung, digital marketing director of SM Global Shop, is always testing to uncover indications that a tweak could be beneficial.

Once you have hundreds of thousands of customers in your database, even a .2 or .3 percent increase in any of your metrics can drastically have an improvement on your revenue overall. So I do believe A/B testing is very crucial.”

David Sung, SM Global Shop digital marketing director

Omnichannel marketing examples

1. Starbucks

Starbucks omnichannel campaigns

Starbucks has a stellar omnichannel strategy, in many ways thanks to the Starbucks mobile app. While having a rewards app is nothing groundbreaking in and of itself, the company made it the linchpin of its omnichannel strategy, as well as one of the best omnichannel marketing examples.

After signing up for the app, customers get a free rewards card that they can use whenever they make a purchase at Starbucks. 

However, what makes the app better than traditional loyalty programs is the possibility to check and reload the rewards card via any channel–the app itself, in-store, on the website or smartphone. The moment a customer makes a purchase, their app gets updated in real time across all channels, with rewards ranging from wireless earbuds to $500 gift cards.

2. Nordstrom

Nordstrom omnichannel campaigns

In the wake of the pandemic, Nordstrom emerged as the top-ranked retailer thanks to its exemplary omnichannel strategy that combines online and in-store commerce.

Recently, the company made it possible to instantly buy the items featured on their Instagram page. Meanwhile, Nordstrom’s employees are looking for popular items on its Pinterest page and feature them more prominently on the sales floor.

In addition, Nordstrom’s The Nordy Club loyalty program lets customers gain loyalty points regardless of which channel they use to make their purchase. The Nordy Club members can track their activity from anywhere, shop whichever way suits them, pay in whichever method they choose, and still gain more loyalty points and rewards. 

Nordstrom’s excellent approach to omnichannel marketing helped it thrive while others filed for bankruptcy. While some retailers saw ecommerce as a threat, Nordstrom proves that online and offline can co-exist.

3. Nike

Nike omnichannel marketing campaigns

Nike is another example of combining online with offline to achieve breathtaking results. And while their physical stores are increasingly digitally enabled, the Nike app stands out as the real success story for the sportswear giant. 

The mobile lets customers browse and reserve items in their local store, scan QR codes to pull up products, get product recommendations based on previous purchases, and unlock exclusive access to newest products.

Launched back in 2018, the Nike app now has 250+ million downloads, making it one of the best use case examples of retail omnichannel success.

4. Walgreens

Walgreens omnichannel communication

Walgreens is using its mobile app as an essential part of its omnichannel marketing strategy.

The Walgreens app allows customers to check and refill their prescriptions in seconds without having to go to the pharmacy, set up reminders to renew their prescriptions, or have 24/7 live chats with pharmacy experts.

Unlike the Nike app, Walgreens doesn’t offer any flashy out-of-this-world experiences. With that said, it provides Walgreens customers with everything they need to save time and minimize unnecessary personal contact during the pandemic.

This simple yet effective approach proved to be a prescription for success, netting Walgreens the Retailer of the Year 2021 award.

5. Net-a-Porter

Omnichannel marketing strategy in mobile app/social network called The Net Set

To achieve their goals efficiently while providing a great customer experience, Net-a-Porter turned to omnichannel marketing, focusing on three distinct channels:

  • A mobile app to keep customers inside their ecosystem. Customers can interact with each other and share images of products they like from any brand. The app’s technology recognizes shared product images and locates the closest match to Net-a-Porter’s inventory, then recommends it to users.
  • Email marketing to help guide subscribers in following up on their store-related activity.
  • Ad retargeting to attract visitors who abandoned their site before making a purchase.

This strategy is credited for substantially contributing to Net-a-Porter’s 16.9% year-over-year growth. Of that year’s more than €2.5 billion ($3 billion) in sales, 50% came from mobile, with the remaining contributions stemming from email marketing, retargeting, organic and other channels.

Order values also increased to €328 (about $400), which is one of the highest for any online store, beating even the likes of Amazon.

Online retails industry by market positioning

Omnichannel marketing tools

There’s a lot to think about when contemplating an omnichannel marketing strategy. Once you decide it’s the right approach for your business, it’s integral to find marketing software that allows you to implement it the right way without fuss.

A platform such as Omnisend was built not just for ecommerce, but for brands that want to explore all that omnichannel marketing provides.

It features the primary elements needed to make it happen, including:

Once you get your feet wet with putting together your omnichannel marketing strategy, we suggest you dig into our resources for deeper insights and more inspiration, such as:

Experiment with omnichannel marketing today at no risk. Get started with Omnisend’s features for free, and begin exploring how you can provide subscribers with a unified and relevant experience while having better control over your marketing channels.

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Tracy Puckett
Article by
Tracy Puckett

Content Marketing Manager for Omnisend. Tracy is a content creator who believes in the immense power of the written word. Free time is for family, exploring community gems and reading.

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