Lately I’ve heard the terms omni-channel and multi-channel marketing used interchangeably. Yet there’s a distinct difference between the two terms, and several reasons why I believe omni-channel marketing is a more effective approach for auto dealers.
Years ago, we realized that not all customers can be reached by a single channel such as mail, email, television, radio or social media. Multi-channel marketing pushes messages out across all these channels in order to increase audience reach.
However, this fragmentation of channels presents a challenge. Reach is only one part of the marketing equation. When you factor in frequency, the cost of increasing frequency across all these channels becomes prohibitively expensive.
One way to address this challenge is to ask customers what their preferred method of communications is, and to market to them exclusively on that channel. The problem with this approach is that the channel the customer gives you may not be where they actually spend their time.
For example, a customer might give you an email address but only check that email a couple times per week. Or, they may tell you to put them on your mailing list knowing full well they throw most of their “junk mail” right into the trash.
When it comes to communicating, we are all omnivores. We consume different messages on different channels at different times. Your marketing communications should match the way that people personally communicate.
I know I can get hold of employees through the week via their work email address; but I have less confidence I can reach them that way on the weekend, so a text or phone call is the better approach. A lot of people spend time on Facebook at night or on weekends, but (hopefully) not while they are at work during the day.
An omni-channel strategy focuses on how your customers communicate with your brand at various stages of the car-buying journey. This is a more effective approach for several reasons.
Omni-Channel is Omnipresent
Omnipresent means to be in all places at once. Multi-channel marketing can fall short because you are pushing messages out at your convenience, and not necessarily when it’s convenient for the customer to receive it.
Not all consumers follow the buyer’s journey in the same way at the same pace. We’re all different, so the key is to be able to reach your customers with the right message over the right channel at the right time.
Instead of pushing out your messages across all channels at random times, you are pushing them out strategically on one channel or another, so the message is waiting for your customers when they show up.
This approach increases both reach and frequency without the prohibitive cost.
Omni-channel is Omniscient
Omniscient means “all knowing” and an omni-channel strategy requires knowing how to leverage your data with predictive analytics. The data is used to create a seamless, consistent experience with your brand, regardless of the device the customer is using or where they see your message.
How does this work? Most dealers have used retargeting ads. A car shopper views a vehicle on your website and that same vehicle is displayed to them later as they surf the Internet. Retargeting is a strategy that integrates your website and search marketing channels.
With omni-channel marketing, you can take this strategy a step further by delivering an email to that same car shopper that advertises a sale price or leasing special for the exact vehicle they were viewing. Later on, that same person may receive a text with a link to a video test drive for that same vehicle.
What happens when a service customer ignores your service reminder email? With multi-channel marketing, you send another email. With an omni-channel strategy, you can drop an ad for an overdue service reminder right into their Facebook news feed so the next time they are on Facebook they will see it.
Because it leverages predictive analytics, omni-channel messages are typically automated, requiring less time commitment from dealership staff.
Omni-channel is Omnipotent
Omnipotent means having unlimited power. Omni-channel marketing provides deeper insights into both your marketing spend and your customers’ journey, giving you the power to better service them.
An omni-channel strategy collects data from online and offline touchpoints and evaluates consumer patterns of behavior at a granular data. It measures everything.
Every time a customer interacts with your dealership, regardless of what device they’re using or the channel they are on, that interaction is noted and affects future messages going out on other channels. In other words, it shows the customer that you’re listening to them, improving their experience with your brand.
It also allows you to identify wasteful marketing spend. Did you know that Apple does not have a presence on Twitter (other than for support)? Twitter doesn’t help them reach their customers at critical points on the buying journey.
That doesn’t mean Twitter isn’t right for you, but wouldn’t it be helpful if you could identify one or more channels that you’re wasting marketing spend on?
Multi-channel marketing is far more effective than single-channel marketing. An omni-channel strategy takes your marketing to another level because it provides insights that improve your results and your customer relationships.
Author: Scot Eisenfelder
Scot Eisenfelder is a 25+ automotive market veteran who has driven innovation across multiple auto sectors. Previously, Scot was Senior Vice President Strategy at AutoNation, responsible for major change initiatives in eCommerce, pricing, IT and creating a blueprint for auto retail transformation and before that served as acting CMO, focused on realigning marketing spending. Before that, Scot led JM Family’s dealer software business and was Senior Vice President Product Management, Strategy and Marketing at Reynolds and Reynolds, leading both companies through value creating sales. Scot is a Board member of Quorum, a public dealer software company. He has an MBA from Wharton School, graduating with distinction and is a Palmer Scholar. He attended Mannheim University in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar and graduated summa cum laude in Economics from Princeton.