As we deal with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, digital transformation is a major focus for many businesses. And while there’s no doubt digital marketing is incredibly valuable — we must remember that we are selling to humans, who still care about making a connection with brands and who seek out enjoyable experiences. In many cases, this means going to physical stores to do their shopping.
For this reason, aligning your online and offline marketing strategies and promotional activities is not just effective, it’s becoming increasingly critical. In the current environment, customers seek a consistent experience with the brands they buy from as they switch between physical and digital worlds.
Customers move along buyers’ journeys made up varied combinations of both digital and physical touchpoints. So, to optimise customer relationships and improve experience and engagement, we should view our online and offline marketing channels as complementary instead of competitive.
A great case in point is Amazon’s US$13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods: America’s largest supermarket chain specialising in organic foods. Amazon saw the value in this because it understands that despite high levels of interaction with devices and digital services, most sales still happen in physical stores.
Google itself has reported that 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby, will visit a business within a day, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase. Likewise, Shopify has estimated that 80% of retail sales will still happen in stores beyond 2021.
But while the majority of sales do take place in stores, our physical marketing efforts shouldn’t be made in isolation. Indeed, Hubspot has reported that 81% of consumers will research online before making a purchase. This is why it’s imperative to execute a cohesive, omni-channel strategy, ensuring customers get the same experience as they move between digital and physical properties.
Despite this, many brands still aren’t set up to meet these expectations and are consequently leaving customers dissatisfied with the service and experience they get in physical stores. While it can be all-too tempting to focus on optimising individual touchpoints, this targeted activity can create even greater variance along the consumer journey and magnify inconsistencies. In this situation, no matter how successful a single touchpoint is, customer confusion and dissatisfaction will arise as they invariably move between touchpoints.
To ensure we nurture and grow our customer base, we should build on traditional principles and adopt a customer-centric approach to build a stronger reputation, both online and offline. Consumers move seamlessly between digital and physical worlds — they use their phones to find store locations and they check for sales and stock availability before they visit. Remembering this will not only see our marketing efforts become more effective, but we’ll also build trust and elevate our customer relationships.