Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | December 29, 2018

How Local SEO Optimizes for Omnichannel Marketing and the New Customer Journey

From their first interactions online to making a purchase in-store to the reviews they post after the sale, today’s customers expect a brand to provide superb service at every touchpoint, but currently, 87% of consumers still think brands need to do a better job at creating a seamless shopping experience.

The customer’s purchase journey has become even more elaborate and even a bit unpredictable. Customers are popping up all over the place: searching online, reading reviews, engaging on social media, and making purchases in-store.

It takes more than just having a location to make them happy. They want all aspects of their retail experience to blend into each other so no matter where, when, or how they interact with a brand, they are receiving the exact messaging, support, and experience they desire.

However, with 55% of shoppers describing their shopping experience as disconnected across all channels, it’s clear that businesses still have a long way to go to meet their customers’ expectations.

The New Customer Purchase Path

Understanding the new customer purchase journey means adjusting your business to fit with the omnichannel experience.

Using the omnichannel experience is all about building an integrated and cohesive experience among all your platforms: search, social, websites, ads, in-store, etc.

Meaning, if customers are purchasing or interacting with their mobile device, desktop, or even walking into your store, they should feel like the experience is the same.

Not only does using this model allow for a better customer experience, using the omnichannel approach has the potential for some major revenue opportunities. It was found, “Businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that don’t” which means that the quicker you implement this, the more likely customers will keep coming back to your store.

The world of retail is now all about having a seamless experience from online to in-store. Retailers are just now realizing that they need to shift their online strategy and deliver on technology that is not replacing storefronts but enhancing it. Consumers are now expecting retailers to incorporate new and exciting experiences that may start online or on their phones and then deliver experiences that are only possible inside stores.

The customer’s purchase route has really transformed in the last decade. Retail is going through a major restructuring and its essential for brick-and-mortar stores to see that the new customer purchasing path is no longer linear.

The new purchase path has moved away from the “buying and selling” narrative and has become more about building the complete experience.

The omnichannel experience explains that the cycle in which your customers interact with you has become even more involved. There are many different avenues customers are taking in order to make a purchase.

The best way to start building a stronger omnichannel experience is by blending all your avenues together so the overall message on all platforms is seamless.

Optimizing for the new purchase path

The new purchase experience pulls from every avenue and now customers want to be able to gather all the information before making a purchase. Now, they want to find your locations on Google, read reviews, cross-check information and product availability with your website, before going to the store to complete their in-store pickup. They are using all available resources to validate their purchase decision.

It’s noticeable that businesses are struggling to find a way to blend the online with the offline but it doesn’t have to be difficult if you’re taking the right precautions.

Local SEO

Before they even walk into your store, they need to be able to find you. Local SEO is a major part of the omnichannel experience because it allows for a seamless transition from online to in-store.

If a customer searches for a new pair of shoes, and they find the pair they want on your site, they want to be able to easily find your store, so they can drive down and try them on.

It’s essential for businesses to make sure all the information located in places like, “Google My Business” is updated and accurate. When businesses have incorrect or missing information like phone numbers, website links, or hours of operation, it only goes to weaken the customers’ experience and hurts your overall search visibility ranking. Both of these severely hurt your brand and cause customers to choose your competitors over you.

Building a Better “Buy online, pickup in-store” Experience

Consumers still value going to the store after they complete their online purchase. In fact, “55% of all shoppers report having purchased a product online to pick up at a physical store”.

In-store pickup is essential in the omnichannel approach because it allows for customers to purchase online, and come in-store for a more personalized experience with “58% of shoppers valuing personalized customer service when shopping in-store”.

For example, if a customer purchases a product online and they come into the store, they may ask how they can maximize their product experience. This is a great time for employees to add on accessories to the basket and make sure that customer understands everything their product is capable of, based on the needs of that specific customer.

When they go online, they get all the basic information about the product; however, there isn’t much information on how the product will fit their lives, specifically. They get that information when they visit the store.

Getting them into the store and coming through on that personalized experience will cause them to see the value in driving to your location time and time again.

Using Social Media to Increase Customer Communication

It is not enough to utilize two channels in the omnichannel strategy, you need to effectively utilize every channel.

Social media is a great tool that will enhance your omnichannel customer experience and at the moment, “Social media (27%) has entered the top-five channels for online purchasing”; which means, that customers are using this avenue to research and purchase their products.

More to the point, “50% of marketers who’ve been using social media for at least three years report it has helped them improve sales.”

Customers aren’t in your store often enough to find out every new deal rolling out. Your responsibility to your customer is to make sure they are always aware of the different promotions, products, and services being offered.

The way you effectively utilize your social channels is by communicating all relevant brand news to your audience. Customers who are following your brand are already fans of yours and are looking for another reason to come into your store.

However, it’s essential to note that when utilizing this tool, you don’t want to appear as if you’re just on that platform to sell your products, instead use this platform to sell your brand.

Using the 80/20 rule has always been a positive way to guide your online presence. 80% of your content should just consist of material you think your audience will find interesting and the other 20% should revolve around revenue.

Following this will allow customers to connect with your brand and still be kept up on all the latest promotional news.

It’s essential that you understand that just because you’re operating in a multi-channel model, (you have various channels customers can interact with you on), doesn’t automatically mean you’re giving an omnichannel experience to your customers.

Achieving a successful omnichannel experience means that each of these touchpoints are integrating with each other seamlessly. Your business needs to evolve to fulfill the needs of your consumer. Currently, consumers are demanding that cohesion and consistency are at the forefront of their experience.

Find out how you can start building a better cohesive experience with a Chatmeter demo where we will complete a brand analysis of your individual locations.