Can marketing ever really master omnichannel? (Clue: yes, if they buy a ton of beacons)

Omnichannel marketing

Mastering omnichannel marketing is the dream, the holy grail, the ultimate goal, and plenty other terms and phrases that basically means “oh boy, if we nailed omnichannel marketing we would rule the world.”

But can we ever truly wrestle omnichannel to the ground and make it say uncle?

What does omnichannel marketing mean?

Omnichannel refers to the seamless experience that all business owners must provide its customers in the digital world.

Simply, a customer should have a totally joined-up and consistent journey across all your channels – in-store, online, mobile app, social media, email, everything.

It begins with research and ends with (hopefully) a sale, but in-between there can be all sorts of tributaries and digressions…

Let’s say a search on Google for your product leads to a paid ad for your product, then the searcher clicks through, lands on your website and researches the product. Maybe they’ll add it to their basket, but then there’s a chance they’ll just change their mind and leave.

You could then retarget them with an email or display advertising. Maybe that will tempt them back. Maybe it won’t. Maybe the customer wants to know more about it before they purchase…

Perhaps the same person then sends your company a tweet or an email asking for some help. Your customer service team can reply as quickly, politely and personally as possible. Perhaps that customer then goes into your physical store a week later, tests the product and then asks for assistance. The helpful sales assistant maybe makes a sale there and then, or finally, the customer goes back to the website and makes a purchase from the convenient comfort of there sofa… or a mobile phone while sat on a bus.

Finally a conversion is made!

All of the above sounds ridiculously complicated (and is probably a little boring to read) but we have all behaved in a similar way – but probably drawn out over a longer period of time, with even more channels and false-starts.

The key to keeping your potential customers happy and your brand or product at the top of your mind is to make sure that all of the multichannel experiences above are consistent.

What counts as ‘consistency’ in omnichannel

There are loads of things you should ensure in order to provide a joined-up experience, but the following are very important.

  • Your brand is consistent
  • Your messaging is consistent
  • Your tone of voice is the same
  • Your pricing is the same
  • A customer should only have to deal with one customer service representative, or at least not have to repeat themselves every time they get in contact
  • Make sure all retargeting is relevant to the customer, in email and display
  • Make sure if an item is placed in a basket on the desktop version of your site, that it remains when they visit your mobile site
  • Your various web properties (desktop, mobile web, app) should have the same navigational elements and offer the same native experience
  • Your customer service should be excellent, responsive and personal across all channels – whether in-store, via email or on social

With a lot of the above, it will come down to strong management and a clear vision for what you want to achieve across every facet of your business, especially when it comes to customer service.

But for everything else – especially the automated, retargeted parts – there are beacons.

The true battleground for providing seamless experiences across channels, is the one between online and offline.

Yes you can ensure that your digital-first properties are coalesced, but how can you be sure that the same experience will be granted to your previously digital-only customer when they walk into your store?

Beacons. By having beacons placed around your location, you can be certain that you’re delivering the right messaging at the right time to your potential customers.

With you app downloaded, a visitor can continue where they left off online in your physical store.

Everything added to a basket, or browsed for online, can inform the offline experience. Perhaps a wishlist created on the web can be used to send the user personalised discounts. Perhaps if you have a loyalty scheme, you can remind them how many points they have when they walk in.

Finally everything that happens in a traditionally non-digital setting can be measured, attributed and learnt from – therefore informing the last outpost  of the customer journey in a far more accurate way than ever before.

How loyalty apps are driving in-store purchases

retail_app_users

Let’s take a few minutes to pour over some beacon-related research that will help underscore just how important it is to connect the physical retail experience with your digital channels – particularly your mobile-based loyalty apps.

The world of loyalty cards seems like the preserve of gigantic chain supermarkets that have to compete viciously with each other in order to survive.

But thanks to mobile apps, the mass production of plastic cards and the huge infrastructure it takes to enable these vast data collection programmes no longer means loyalty schemes are just for the retail giants.

Every digitally savvy retailer, from an independent boutique to a small city-wide chain, can build a loyalty app that sits on your customer’s phone and offers great added value, for relatively little cost.

Of course the question is… why should I bother doing that?

Let’s look at the latest stats on customer behaviour in regards to loyalty and mobile apps.

Why should I have a customer loyalty program?

Okay, good question. Simply put, any loyalty programme is obviously designed to keep customers coming back to your specific store rather than a competitor’s. But say your competitor offers more convenience than you (it may just be that it’s closer to the customer), you’re going to have to offer something pretty special to make someone come further out of their way to your store.

That’s where a loyalty program comes in. And I don’t just mean points based systems that accrue meaningless general deals, but genuinely personalised special offers or cold hard money off.

Loyalty programmes work! Here are a few stats from Bond’s recent 2016 brand loyalty report:

  • 81% of consumers are more likely to continue doing business with brands that offer loyalty programs
  • 75% of consumers say loyalty programs are part of their relationship with brands
  • 73% of loyalty programs members are more likely to recommend brands with good loyalty programs

These are huge majorities of customers, all saying “yes, offer us a loyalty programme, make it worthwhile and we’ll come back.”

And it’s not just those of us who are used to carrying around loads of different, forgotten plastic cards in our wallets, younger people who probably don’t even use a wallet anymore use loyalty schemes too…

According to Blackhawk Network’s recent study on shopping habits:

  • 69% of Millennials belong to a retail loyalty program and 70% of those are happy with the program

And according to Software Advice the most important thing that will keep millennials using a loyalty program is the speed with which rewards build up (51%) and the variety of rewards available (38%). It should be worth noting that 50% of millennials stated they would quit a loyalty program because rewards took too long to accrue

The case for building a mobile app for your loyalty program

According to Google, 84% of shoppers with smartphones use their devices to help shop while in–store. But then, you don’t really need Google to tell you this. You already do it yourself. You’d be crazy not to! With huge improvements in mobile optimised websites and network connectivity, why not do 30 seconds of research while in-store to see if you can save some money elsewhere.

But it’s not just the mobile-web that shoppers are using, research from Apptentive carried out in July 2015 shows that a vast number of US consumers are using specific retail apps while shopping, which is helping drive in-store purchases.

  • 88% of respondents used retailer apps
  • 61% said they used them at least monthly.
  • 26% of the app-user population used retailer apps seven or more times per month
  • 71% browse retail apps before buying in-stores, at least once a month
  • 51% have used a retailer app while in store.

Percentage_Of_Shoppers_using_retail_apps

But what do people want from a loyalty mobile app?

According to the Bond research we mentioned earlier, 77% of smartphone users suggested they’d like to see mobile-specific offers such as surprise points or rewards, exclusive content and special birthday messaging.

All of this adds to brand loyalty and all of this is achievable with the data you can collect on your customers.

And customers will of course carry on using your mobile app outside the store. The Bond research suggests that, 57% of consumers are interested in using their mobile device to check their points balances, redeem reward points (55%), find a location/store (54%), and browse reward options (54%) at home.

Ultimately this loyalty culminates in revenue. According to ABI research: 40.4% of respondents who had downloaded a retailer branded app said that as a result, they bought more of the brand’s products and services and 45.9% said the app caused them to visit the store more often.

Joining up your physical retail store with loyalty app

Of course all of these benefits to you mean nothing if you’re not benefiting your customers.

According to 2016 research from Revel Systems and Forrester 93% of executives agree that’ it’s important to integrate digital capabilities into physical locations to improve customer experience while 94% of retailers see in-store digital capabilities as important not only for customer experience but also for store operations.

But how can you achieve this?

How beacons can help you join everything up into one brilliant customer experience

Build that loyalty app, give it to your customers for free, and place beacons around your premises to trigger specific deals and helpful store advice.

Make the most of it by offering free Wi-Fi in-store, and don’t be shy about it either. Also do encourage your customers to enable their customer loyalty apps with simple guides. Promise that that the push notifications will be ‘worth it’ then prove it by sending a brilliant one-time offer when they walk into your store.

Use the data you’ve accrued about your app users to tailor genuinely helpful bespoke offers and offer true personalisation.

Make their shopping experience as pleasurable and fun as possible, while also being brilliantly helpful. They’ll not only come back to your store, but also use your app while at home too.

32 Charts, stats & quotes that prove you need to invest in proximity marketing in 2016

Google customer journey

Given that blueSense sells iBeacon hardware and management software, it won’t be too much of a surprise to hear us tell you that you need to get on board the proximity marketing train right away.

Luckily, you don’t need to just take our word for it.

Here are 32 charts, stats and quotes from businesses that show just how important location-based services are going to be in the near future, and why you should consider investing now.

The world is going mobile. Fast

There are now more mobile devices in the world than there are people.

We actually hit this level way back in 2014, when GSMA reported that there were 7.22 billion devices in the world, compared to ‘just’ 7.2 billion humans.

number of smartphones worldwide

Don’t expect that trend to stop though. Back then, around 60% of the population owned a mobile phone, but just a quarter of those were smartphones. Statista expects this to rise to more than 50% by 2018:

number-of-smartphone-users-worldwide/

In fact, we can reasonably expect 4.77 billion phones to be on the market by 2019

And phones aren’t the only devices out there. In Q4 of 2015, the wearables market grew by more than 126%, including more than 8 million new FitBits hitting the market.

In fact, the global wearables market reached 45.7 million units in 2015 and is set to reach 126.1 Million Units in 2019. 

And of course, beacons can communicate with all of those… 

iBEacons_BLE

It’s also worth comparing this usage to desktop. Here are two graphs from Google which handily sum up the trends:

Google_Mobile_Vs_Desktop_Use

We’re buying more things, through more devices, than ever before.

And we’re also using those devices for product research (We’ll look at why this is so important in a moment).

According to Monetate, retail clients saw mobile conversion rates rise from 1.2% to 1.53% between 2014 and 2015:

2016-Ecommerce-retail-conversion-rates-by-device

  • In 2014, UK users bought £8. 41Bn ($11.10Bn) of goods through mobile devices. By 2015, that number had risen an astonishing 77.8% to £14.95Bn customers spent £14.95Bn ($19.73Bn).
  • According to data compiled by RetailMeNot, During the same period, PC spending increased by just 2%.  
  • The global mobile commerce market is set to reach $3.2 TRILLION by 2017.

Savvy businesses need to be engaging customers through their mobile devices.

Search behaviour is changing to be more local and contextual.

All these devices are changing something else as well: the way people look for information.

Customers are doing more research on products before buying, often engaging in ‘showrooming’ – looking at a product in store, but also looking for a cheaper price online.

According to Comscore, 43.3% of UK smartphone users have used their device in a retail store:

showrooming_trends

While data from Google shows how complicated the customer path to purchase has now become:

Google customer journey

Users are increasingly looking for information on the spot, and delivering content to them directly can heavily affect their purchasing decisions.

Data from xAD shows that 60% of consumers who research goods and services in-store will buy on location.

Keeping track of online & offline data is a huge challenge.

With so much data coming in, you’d think that businesses would be able to track their customers pretty well.

And they can to a degree. If you’ve handed over your email info, then a business should be able to send you emails that you are personally interested in. What they aren’t so good at is working out what goes on once you actually enter a store.

Data tends to sit in silos, and that means it’s tough to tell if an online campaign helped sell something in a store (or vice versa).

Data from Econsultancy shows that, while beacons are a far more accurate way of tracking customers in-store, just 5% of businesses are currently doing it. Instead, they are relying on tracking codes, phone calls and surveys – all methods that require extra steps from the customer:

tracking_Customers_Mobile

Customer experience is the best way to win customers

The really interesting thing here is that customer experience doesn’t begin and end when a purchase is being made. It actually covers every part of the journey –

Whether a customer wants a useful website when they begin their research, a great in-store experience, or useful information afterwards.

According to CustomerThink:

  • 92% of retailers think customer experience is vital to their business
  • 56% believe they need to seamlessly integrate online and offline data to provide a good experience.
  • Meanwhile, more than half (53%) of customers would stop using a business if they received poor in-store service, and almost a third (31%) have abandoned a purchase because of bad service.

customer-experience

Beacons allow businesses to integrate their data, and optimise in-store layouts to provide better service, as well as removing customer friction points such as the need to carry loyalty cards, or check that they are receiving the best price (Both major pain points, according to Retail Customer Experience)

Low barrier to entry

We’ve covered this before, but just to be sure: iBeacons have an average range of around 100 metres, and cost around £20. With an average battery life of more than two years, beacons cost around £0.0114 ($0.02c) per hour to run. With such a a low entry point, it’s no wonder the market is expanding so rapidly.

Meanwhile, 9to5mac has data from InMarket which shows that since they began sending iBeacon notifications to Epicurious users in stores:

  • Interactions with advertised products increased by 19x.
  • App usage was 16.5x greater for users who received a beacon message vs those who did not.
  • Users who received an iBeacon notification are 6.4x more likely to keep an app on their phone.

It has already begun

The fact that there is a key product called ‘iBeacon’ should tip you off here. Big players like Apple, Google and Facebook like to experiment, but they don’t plough serious money into technology unless they are convinced they will see a return.

Don’t take my word for it though – here’s what these firms have to say about beacons and proximity marketing:

Google: 

“Beacons are an important way to deliver better experiences for users of your apps, whether you choose to use Eddystone with your own products and services or as part of a broader Google solution like the Places API or Nearby API.

The ecosystem of app developers and beacon manufacturers is important in pushing these technologies forward and the best ideas won’t come from just one company, so we encourage you to get some Eddystone-supported beacons today from our partners and begin building!

Chandu Thota, Engineering Director and Matthew Kulick, Product Manager 

Facebook:

As people continue to use their phones everywhere and all the time—including while they shop and dine—there’s an opportunity for businesses to connect with customers online while they are in store. So earlier this year we started testing Place Tips, an optional Facebook feature that helps people learn about and connect with the places they visit, including businesses. Since we started our test, local businesses that have tried Place Tips have seen a steady uptick in Page traffic from in-store visitors.

Apple:

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology

– Steve Jobs 

TechCrunch estimates beacons will reach 60 million customers by 2019, while ABI research estimates that more than 400 million beacons will be deployed by 2020 

And the effect they have on purchasing is well documented.

According to the 2015 Retail Touchpoints report:

  • Beacons will drive $44 billion in retail sales in 2016, up from just $4 billion in 2015.
  • In 2014, 15% of retailers were launching beacon programs in the US. In 2015, that figure rose to 46%
  • 71% of retailers using beacons believe they can now track and understand how and where their customers purchase items by using beacons

The evidence is compelling, the tech is ready to go, and customers are actively looking for better, more contextual experiences. Get in touch to discover how we can help you grow your business with beacon technology and data.