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Should you be digital-first or omnichannel?

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There’s no denying that the pandemic accelerated a global shift to digital adoption. As noted by Google’s VP of Marketing, Janusz Moneta, and Director, Market Insights EMEA, Lucy Sinclair, ‘The increasing use of technology to work, play, and stay connected have shaped new digital habits.’

In 2020, no less than 92% of adults in the UK were active internet users with 87% making online purchases. McKinsey reports that consumer and business digital adoption moved forward five years in just eight weeks.

When it comes to B2B buyers, it’s predicted that 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will happen in digital channels by 2025.

Plus, it appears that the move to digital adoption is here to stay. 75% of those using digital channels for the first time said they’d continue to use them when things returned to ‘normal’.

So, it’s no surprise that ‘digital-first’ has become something of a buzzword in B2B marketing since the pandemic. Yet, you may also have heard another buzzword that’s become increasingly popular in recent months – omnichannel marketing.

To help you decide which option is best for your business, this blog provides an overview of both approaches and explains why an effective marketing strategy should be both digital-first and omnichannel.

What is digital-first marketing?

As the name suggests, a digital-first approach involves prioritising digital channels such as websites, mobile, and social media when you release marketing messaging, as opposed to traditional channels such as print, TV, and outdoor advertising.

In an age where 84% of UK adults own a smartphone, it’s perhaps no surprise that customers are more loyal to brands that engage across digital channels.

What is omnichannel marketing?

Omni means ‘all’, which makes an omnichannel approach to marketing one that targets all available channels: both digital and traditional. This empowers companies to connect and engage with customers both in-person and online.

Used effectively, it’s a great way to provide a consistent and seamless experience, no matter where customers are in the sales process. For example, customers could learn about a new product via an in-store promotion, receive a discount for the product on social media, and read customer reviews about the product on the company website.

So, what’s the best approach – digital-first or omnichannel?

With B2B buyers spending just 17% of the total purchase journey with sales reps, it’s clear that you must engage with them across other channels.

As Gartner states in the Future of Sales 2025 report, “Sales organisations must be able to sell to customers everywhere the customer expects to engage, interact and transact with suppliers.”

That’s why a marketing strategy that encompasses digital as part of an omnichannel approach is key, particularly as B2B customers use 10 or more channels to interact with brands.

So, it’s important that you research your customers’ channel preferences and buying practices and target them accordingly. After all, not all your audience will want to be contacted or marketed to in the same way, and their preferences can change depending on where they are on their journey.

For example, when researching a new product or service, 76% of B2B buyers find it helpful to speak to a salesperson, as opposed to 15% when making a repeat purchase. So, to deliver value to all customers at all times you should market on all channels.

Research suggests that a digital/omnichannel approach is what B2B customers want. 94% of B2B decision-makers find it as effective or more than the pre-pandemic sales model. An omnichannel approach can also lead to:

To see how we can help support you with your marketing across all channels, check out our Marketing Strategy page or get in touch.


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