Find out what omnichannel marketing is, and how to use it in your healthcare marketing campaigns.
Have you ever given up on an online purchase because it was too hard to work out whether there’s an in-store pick-up option? Or because the deal in the print ad for your local store location isn’t available online? These are just simple examples of the kinds of problems omnichannel marketing strategies are meant to fix. In healthcare marketing, omnichannel strategies are an opportunity for healthcare marketers to build brand loyalty and long-lasting relationships with their patients like never before.
What is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel marketing isn’t just about using every available channel for marketing, although that’s important too. Omnichannel is about breaking down an organization’s various customer-facing channel-based silos. At its simplest, an omnichannel strategy might give customers the chance to buy online and pick-up in store or have a mix of delivery and pick-up options.
Being omnichannel is about taking a consumer-centric view of marketing tactics. In other words, the consumer’s experience comes first and your organization needs to be seamless in its branding, messaging, and online and offline presence. Consumers can now interact with brands on countless channels, from social media to customer service hotlines. There are few key elements for ensuring a positive customer experience using this approach (Marketing Evolution, 2022):
- Consistent, identifiable brand tone and vision
- Personalized messaging based on specific interests
- Content that is informed by past interactions and the current stage of the customer’s journey.
In order to center the patient journey in your strategy, healthcare organizations need to start with brand recognition.
Multichannel vs Omnichannel
In 2022, you can think of multichannel tactics like Web 1.0. That approach was about updating healthcare marketing strategies to make sure they’re keeping up with what, at the time, were newer technologies. While Facebook is now 18 years old new platforms like TikTok are still emerging and revolutionizing the way we think about marketing. There’s still a need for multichannel thinking because not every healthcare organization is at the point of optimizing across channels.
Where omnichannel is different (and more advanced) is in integrating customer experiences across channels. Rather than simply providing content on different platforms, omnichannel focusses on optimizing marketing communications for the whole patient journey, across all possible channels, in a cohesive, consistent model.
What does look like? It means having a consistent experience across devices, online and offline, transitioning seamlessly from one interaction to the next, and making sure every message is informed by prior encounters. You can text a number to get an appointment booking. You can open your provider app and get a set of suggestions based on your current status in your journey. In other words, you get the information you need, when you need it and where you need it.
What can an omnichannel strategy accomplish?
Every brand today is competing for ever more limited consumer attention. Particularly in healthcare, audiences are increasingly fragmented. Large groups of clients are moving more often and there are significantly lower barriers to changing providers and accessing care differently (Roselli 2020).
By implementing an effective omnichannel strategy, you can overcome some of these challenges by building more meaningful connections and loyalty. Achieving this level of integration is not easy but it’s worth the rewards in customer acquisition and retention.
Some of the main outcomes of an effective omnichannel strategy include (Marketing Evolution, 2022):
A Better User Experience: since omnichannel designs based on individual experience across devices rather than by channel features, the customer experience (CX) is better. By focusing design to give customers the best possible experience overall, companies can drive more sales and better retention rates. More personalized messaging based on interactions on any channel will help improve the user experience. Similarly, being able to deliver content to users on one channel that is informed by previous interaction on any other channels shows that your healthcare system is integrated and your focus in on the patient, rather than operational silos.
Cohesive Brand Strategy and Identity: we’ve discussed the importance of seamlessly implementing an easily identifiable brand image and tone. Like any core marketing strategy, the key to success here is ensuring this brand image is centered on your core audience’s needs and values. By staying focused on the customer’s experience overall and using your brand guidelines to target each channel, you will have a more comprehensive brand strategy that translates into more targeted messaging and greater loyalty.
Increased Revenue: since an omnichannel approach encourages customers to engage with a brand across multiple touchpoints and channels, you increase the size of the sales funnel. You can capture more customers by meeting potential clients where they are. By getting out directly to consumers at each stage of their journey you can help increase revenue. Research shows that customers that engage with multiple touchpoints tend to be 30 percent more valuable. You can increase loyalty and make it more likely that a customer will engage with you again through more targeted messaging that also builds loyalty. Marketing research shows that repeat customers on average contribute to 40 percent of revenue, despite being a smaller portion of your consumer base (Roselli 2020).
Better Attribution Data: unsurprisingly, an omnichannel approach isn’t only about your outward-facing marketing strategy. Going truly omnichannel should apply to your marketing data analytics as well. This means that you should be able to track engagements across channels, building a single portfolio about customers and their interactions with you on all channels. This should give you a much richer understanding of the customer journey, when and where your consumers are engaging, and which campaigns have been the most valuable. All of this data can be put back into your strategy to build more targeted campaigns and optimize media spend.
What is Omnichannel Attribution?
In order to leverage the full-benefits of data attribution from an omnichannel strategy you have to be aware of where and how to understand, as best as possible, which tactics are generating which conversions. This can be tough to determine without the right attribution tools in place. The two main tools marketing professionals rely on are multi-touch attribution (MTA) and media mix modelling (MMM). While not perfect, these options can be your best way to understand what led to a conversion:
MMM: Media Mix Modelling focuses on long-term aggregate data. This helps marketers see the overall impacts of their campaigns understanding exactly how they led to conversions, trends over time, and seasonal variations in engagements. These kinds of insights are easier to get but lack the person-level insights that can really drive an effective omnichannel campaign. MMM also typically uses several years of data which means that it’s less useful for making real-time adjustments to a campaign that’s already in-flight.
MTA: Multi-touch attribution can offer real-time granular, person-level data for each touchpoint. Marketing teams can use this kind of data to adapt their campaigns in real time and adjust their tactics to quickly changing consumer needs. The biggest challenge with MTA is that it’s harder to know how much each touchpoint should be credited for a particular conversion. For example, how exactly does a team know if the campaign email or the webinar was more influential in the customer conversion.
The most sophisticated attribution models can help you build an understanding of how particular customers respond to specific tactics.
Examples of Omnichannel Marketing
Many brands have successfully used omnichannel approaches to transform their business. You’ll be familiar with many examples from your own experiences, here are some of the most prominent (Marketing Evolution, 2022a):
The Amazon online shopping experience has to be the most prominent example of omnichannel marketing. In particular, Amazon’s curated recommendations are a huge driver of sales. Recent figures suggest that curated recommendations generate 35 percent of sales on their site. This kind of leverage is achieved by using customer data on purchase history, items in the customers cart, recent views and products bought by others order similar products. Add in the layer of hyper convenience, seamless integration with order updates, notifications, billing, and shipping information and you’ll find one of the most effective examples of omnichannel marketing out there. What opportunities are there to learn from other clients healthcare journeys to deliver similar results?
The Starbucks mobile rewards app has integrated the in-store customer experience seamlessly with the mobile experience. This has elevated the consumer convenience above all else. By being able to reload cards from a phone or desktop, by being able to order ahead, easily identify nearby stores, and access reward points, customers are incentivized to stay loyal and rewarded with excellent experience. What healthcare processes could be integrated in this way to increase customer satisfaction?
A customer-centric strategy at Nordstrom has helped to increase customer retention. By offering a variety of personalized services to customers, they’ve been able to make potential customers feel special rather than like they’re any other potential buyer. Using their Nordstrom Analytica Platform (NAP) they have improved service and product discover. They use over 100 AI models every day to predict customer shopping preferences including technology like pairing natural language conversations with images from social media to make startlingly accurate predictions. What big data or AI insights about your clients could be used to better support clients finding the right care for them?
The Bottom Line
Keep in mind that investing in customer experience is not a luxury in today’s healthcare marketing landscape, it’s a necessity. Omnichannel marketing has to be built on a solid foundation of strong brand identity, customer journey mapping, data analysis, and testing and optimizing. After getting the basics right, omnichannel can be leveraged to broaden the sales funnel and use data to help you double down on the strategies that lead to the greatest conversions. An incredible customer experience is at the heart of the process so even before considering the positive marketing outcomes, this approach is simply good practice.
Marketing Evolution. (2022). What is Omnichannel Marketing? Definition, Tips, and Examples. https://www.marketingevolution.com/knowledge-center/topic/marketing-essentials/omnichannel
Marketing Evolution. (2022a). 5 Examples of Brands with Successful Customer-Centric Marketing. https://www.marketingevolution.com/knowledge-center/4-examples-brand-customer-centric-retail-marketing?hsLang=en
Roselli, N. (2020, February 1). The Power of Healthcare Omnichannel Marketing in 2019. Healthcare Marketing Agency. https://www.practicebuilders.com/blog/the-power-of-healthcare-omnichannel-marketing-in-2019/