Omnichannel Marketing Is Preferred by 85% of Consumers

With the advent of the Internet and social media, choosing the right marketing channel to distribute your message to your target audience and create a stronger relationship with them is now more complicated. With all these choices, what’s important is to focus on selecting the right media channels for your customer base … both online and offline.

With the advent of the Internet and social media, choosing the right marketing channel to distribute your message to your target audience and create a stronger relationship with them is now more complicated. With all these choices, what’s important is to focus on selecting the right media channels for your customer base … both online and offline.

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar with Liz Miller, SVP of Marketing from the CMO Council. She shared findings from a recent study done by the CMO Council in partnership with Pitney Bowes titled “Critical Channels of Choice.” The study surveyed 2,000 consumers across five generations (Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation).

According to Miller, “Everyone assumes that Millennials and Gen Zers are all digital and that is the best way, and in some instances the only way, to communicate with them. The most critical finding from the study indicated that the channel of choice was in fact, omnichannel.” Consumers expect a seamless shopping experience, whether they’re shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone, or in a brick and mortar store location.

When asked to describe their communication preferences, consumers overwhelmingly agreed that one path to the brand simply isn’t enough … they want them all. Some 85% of consumers surveyed agreed that their ideal channel is actually a blend of channels, opting for a mix of both digital and physical experiences (Figure 1).

According to survey respondents, consumers prefer to have omnichannel marketing efforts directed toward them.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

Miller explained that print is alive and well. She said, “Perhaps most telling of this openness for omnichannel is that printed mail, considered by some to be one of the more ‘traditional’ channels in today’s marketing mix, is essential. It continues to be a highly valued channel of choice. One out of every three consumers surveyed expected printed mail to be part of their ideal communications mix. Brands need to reevaluate how they are leveraging and deploying all of the tools available in an omnichannel toolkit.”

While you might expect a divide across generations in terms of channel preferences, that isn’t the case. The research found that all respondents, regardless of age demographic, prefer a blend of digital and physical channels to pave their communications journey with a brand (Figure 2).

Based on key findings, there is a preference for a blend of digital and physical communications in marketing efforts, regardless of age.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

The study also pointed out that the deciding factors for channel usage by consumers include convenience, reliability, speed, personalization, and trust (Figure 3). Whether it is print, social media, or email, consumers are looking for channels that meet their expectations.

Critical attributes of must have channels.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

The Bottom Line

Given the drive for a seamless omnichannel experience, your customers will be looking for partners to help deliver the solutions consumers want. Print will continue to be integral to the marketing mix, but your offerings will need to be blended with social, mobile, and online channels, as well as brick and mortar point of purchase solutions. Service providers need to evaluate the role they want to play in an omnichannel world.

QR Codes Are Even More Relevant in 2019

QR codes are making a comeback and brands, agencies and traditional marketers are finding innovative ways to utilize them as an effective means of passing product information in-store, bringing static ads to life and engaging with customers through contests or loyalty reward systems.

Despite having been around for decades and receiving much media attention, QR codes never became the revolutionary mobile marketing tool that businesses and marketers had hoped. When Apple added native support QR code scanning in its iOS 11, the promise of the technology was renewed. This game-changing move allows QR codes to be scanned on Apple devices directly through the camera app. And the fact that the QR code feature is in the control settings enables ease of use. The latest Android smartphones have also made QR code scanning a native feature. This addresses the major barrier for QR code use in Western markets.

According to recent estimates from Juniper Research, the number of QR coupons redeemed via mobile devices will reach 5.3 billion by 2022. By contrast, coded coupons redeemed via mobile in 2017 approached about 1.3 billion, by Juniper’s count. What’s more, Juniper forecasts that more than 1 billion mobile devices will access coupons through QR codes by 2022. Clearly, the surge in use is being driven by built-in QR functionality on smartphones and most importantly Apple devices.

Brands, agencies and traditional marketers are finding innovative ways to utilize mobile bar codes as an effective means of passing product information in-store, bringing static ads to life and engaging with customers through contests or loyalty reward systems. This integration of offline, online and mobile allows marketers to provide a holistic experience to their customers. Let’s look at a few examples of what successful marketers are doing to optimize the print/mobile customer experience and maximize marketing spend.

Nike: Curating the Customer Experience

QR codes can be used at the store level to give shoppers experiential choices. Nike’s flagship store in New York City, called House of Innovation, uses QR codes all throughout the store to give NikePlus Members with the Nike app a truly unique experience. The Nike App features Shop the Look. Customers can go up to a store mannequin and use the Nike app to scan a QR code (on a printed sign) that will bring up its entire outfit. From there, a shopper can decide to buy any of the pieces the mannequin is wearing or have the items sent to a fitting room. Shoppers get a push notification when the items are ready telling them to head to a nearby fitting room, where there will be a sign with their name on it and the items waiting inside.

QR Codes

Amazon: Blending Digital and Physical Worlds

In addition, marketers are using QR codes in advertising. In Europe, Amazon has started placing QR code boxes that include its trademark smile logo into magazine advertisements, enabling Amazon mobile app users to scan the “SmileCode” to open Amazon product pages or other content on their phones. As Amazon increasingly blends the physical and digital worlds, it’s latest move is an attempt to make magazines shoppable. It will be an interesting test of the concept, and its success could mean as much, or more, to the publishers of major print magazines as it does to Amazon. While the content unlocked by the SmileCode could be a product page, it could also be a gateway to more messaging.

Optimizing the Print Mobile Experience

Big brands are focused on harnessing QR codes as a technique for engaging and converting consumers. They want to deliver a brand experience that engages the mobile-centric consumer. Amid a sea of marketing messages bombarding consumers every day, thoughtful and integrated marketing campaigns can cut through the clutter and give marketers confidence that their marketing dollars are being used wisely. Given the ease of use of QR codes, it is time for print service providers to look at print/mobile-optimized marketing campaigns to help marketers blend traditional and digital media. Print (signage, advertisements, packaging, magazines, catalogs, direct mailers, etc.) is an important mechanism for capturing attention and building awareness. Optimizing print and mobile with QR codes is a great way to combine media and actively engage customers.