Here’s How Marketing 4.0 Can Boost Your Omnichannel E-commerce

Here’s How Marketing 4.0 Can Boost Your Omnichannel E-commerce

The 4th Industrial Revolution is here. It’s called Marketing 4.0, and it promises to transform the way you sell online. In this post, we will discuss how marketing automation can positively impact your omnichannel e-commerce strategy.

But until we get to that, let’s first talk about what we mean by Marketing 4.0 and how it is inspired by the first three.

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Marketing 1.0: The Patronage Model (200 BC – 1500 AD)

The early days of marketing were all about ‘word-of-mouth’ and ‘viral marketing. There were no physical barriers to entering the market, so every business had to fight for a spot in the customer’s heart.

In this model, businesses relied on their potential customers’ referrals and endorsements from respected community members. For example, when a new restaurant opened its doors in ancient Rome, it relied heavily on a dignitary’s support to attract many loyal patrons.

Marketing 2.0: The Advertising Model (1500 AD – 1945 AD)

In the early days, advertising was a “passive process.” Companies started distributing promotional materials through word of mouth and traditional media outlets. Gradually, print media evolved from newspapers to billboards, radio shows, and television ads. 

With the introduction of TV in the 1950s, it became easier for brands to reach potential customers quickly. The only problem was that not all consumers had access to TVs at home. As a result, companies started pushing their messages aggressively through advertising media, leading to the “Mad Men” era and the explosion of TV commercials.

Marketing 3.0: The Relationship Model (1945 AD – 1999 AD)

In this period, marketing professionals focused on maximizing their efforts by gathering insights about their customers to precisely offer them products that suited their needs and preferences. At first, this required a lot of time and effort, but new digital technologies would eventually help make this process more efficient. 

In addition, as capitalists shifted their focus from mass markets to niche segments, reaching consumers became more straightforward. With the advancement of e-commerce and social media platforms, marketers started creating one-to-one relationships with their customers using targeted marketing messages through personalized emails and ads.

Marketing 4.0: The Engagement Model (2000 AD – 2050 AD)

In Marketing 4.0, brands need to build stronger relationships with their customers and transform them into advocates who voluntarily advocate for the brand

It’s about bringing the online-offline, style into substance, and machine into the human world.

The entire paradigm has shifted from ‘push’ communication to ‘pull’ communication, where marketers empower consumers to drive the buying process. That is possible through marketing automation and omnichannel e-commerce, which we will discuss later in detail.


The Challenges Faced in each of the Marketing Eras

Every epoch in human history has had its own unique set of challenges and opportunities. In the early days, physical barriers were a big problem for businesses: it was difficult to transport goods to distant buyers, communicate with them, and attract new customers. With the introduction of new advertising media in Marketing 2.0, businesses could quickly target many potential customers.

But here’s the catch: not all consumers had access to TV sets or radios at home, which meant that companies had to focus solely on increasing their reach. As a result, brands started pushing their messages aggressively to appeal to as many consumers as possible through advertising media, leading to the “Mad Men” era and the explosion of TV commercials.

Marketing 3.0 was all about creating deeper relationships with customers by gathering insights into their needs and offering them tailor-made products and services. While the digital revolution helped make this effort more accessible, companies struggled with a fragmented consumer base and an increasingly competitive marketplace.

In the new Marketing 4.0 era, brands need to focus on building stronger relationships with their customers and turning them into advocates who will advocate for the brand voluntarily. That is possible through omnichannel e-commerce and marketing automation.

7 Key characteristics of Marketing 4.0

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Here are some of the seven key characteristics of Marketing 4.0:

  • Engagement over Push Communication

In this new marketing era, brands need to focus on engagement rather than pushing messages through advertising media like print, TV, or radio. The entire paradigm has shifted from ‘push’ communication to ‘pull’ communication, where marketers empower consumers to drive the buying process.

  • The Rise of One-to-One Communication

This Marketing 4.0 era is all about creating one-to-one relationships with customers by digitizing the entire customer experience through marketing automation, omnichannel e-commerce solutions, and social media platforms.

  • The Rise of Collaborative Consumption

Consumers have access to far more information than ever before in this new marketing era, and they are not afraid to share it. 

In fact, they are so empowered that they can now drive the buying process forward with their tweets, likes, and shares. That is why brands need to shift from a ‘transactional’ mindset to a more collaborative one where they value relationships over transactions.

  • The Rise of Emotional Marketing

The rise in social media has made it easier for marketers to communicate with consumers on an emotional level, helping them identify potential advocates of their brands and turn them into loyal customers.

  • The Empowered Consumer

In the Marketing 4.0 era, consumers have far more information at their disposal than ever before, and they are willing to share it on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. They also make informed decisions based on reviews and recommendations from their peers.

  • Hyper-personalization

Brands need to focus on hyper-customizing their offerings to create close relationships with their target customers. That is only possible through the use of sophisticated marketing automation and omnichannel e-commerce software.

  • The Rise of Industry 4.0

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Industry 4.0 has completely transformed.  It is not just about intelligent factories and machines. It is also about leveraging big data, cloud computing, and machine learning to create better products and hyper-personalized customer experiences.

Why Marketing 4.0?

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  • Personalization over Mass Marketing

In the early days of marketing, brands could only afford a one-size-fits-all approach. The era of mass marketing was followed by the era of personalized marketing, where brands offered customized products and services to appeal to specific customer segments. 

With the advent of new digital technologies like data analytics, companies can now personalize their messaging across multiple touchpoints based on individual customers’ behavior and purchase history.

  • Content Marketing over Advertising

Marketing 4.0 is all about creating compelling content that resonates with customers and drives brand engagement at scale. That is usually done through innovative marketing strategies like inbound, outbound, PR, public speaking, etc. 

With inbound marketing, the goal is to create valuable long-form content that attracts prospects from multiple channels. On the other hand, outbound marketing focuses on reaching decision-makers through email outreach and content syndication services.

  • Analytics over A/B Testing 

In Marketing 2.0, companies could only test variations of their marketing messages to determine which ones resonated better with consumers. These tests were limited in scope and drawn from a relatively small pool of potential customers.

In the age of Big Data, companies can conduct large-scale experiments across multiple channels to discover what works best for their brand at scale. 

  • Advocacy over Brand Loyalty

In the new era of Marketing 4.0, companies need to focus on converting customers into brand advocates who will promote the company’s products and services without any incentive. Before dismissing this idea as unrealistic, consider that some brands like Uber, Airbnb, and Dropbox have already built large customer bases through word-of-mouth marketing.

These ‘brand evangelists’ can be cultivated organically through social media engagement and targeted incentives like loyalty programs. More importantly, you can activate them to promote your brand when needed through influencer marketing strategies using the key industry players to create positive word of mouth.

  • Conversion over Loyalty

One of the easiest ways for companies to boost their revenue is optimizing conversions on their website and mobile app. The best way to achieve this is by tailoring the customer experience across touchpoints to ensure that they view your brand in a positive light.

You can do this by using predictive analytics tools that measure user behaviour and predict their buying preferences based on website interactions. 

For example, digital marketers can use heat maps to identify pages with high drop-off rates.

  • Omni-Channel over Customer Experiences 

The biggest differentiator between Marketing 4.0 and earlier marketing strategies is its focus on delivering memorable customer experiences at each touchpoint. 

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Customer experiences are the sum of interactions between your brand and consumers across multiple channels like social media, web, email, mobile devices, etc. That also includes personalizing your customer experience based on their previous interactions with your company or brand.   

  • AI over social media

Artificial intelligence can learn about your company and its products on an ongoing basis and intelligently respond to all incoming requests.

With the proliferation of chatbots, companies can deploy virtual assistants that act as your first point of contact for everyday customer service inquiries. Brands can also use AI-powered marketing tools like predictive analytics to understand consumer behaviour at scale and deliver a personalized buying experience accordingly.

How Marketing 4.0 Can Boost Your Omnichannel e-commerce

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The main goals of Marketing 4.0 are to capitalize on Big Data, build brand evangelists, drive significant ROI, increase customer satisfaction, and deliver memorable experiences at each point of contact.

That said, here are seven ways marketing 4.0 can help boost your omnichannel e-commerce business:

  • Personalization based on customer behaviour

One of the simplest ways to build customer engagement through Marketing 4.0 is by creating a multi-channel digital strategy consisting of content marketing, CRM, email campaigns, social media outreach, etc.

That is a departure from previous marketing strategies that focused on delivering a consistent message across all channels. In the age of data overload, brands need to create personalized customer journeys based on their preferences and purchase history.

  • Social Media Outreach

In the new era of Marketing 4.0, social media campaigns should focus on brand evangelists rather than generic product promotions through celebrity endorsements.

Social media influencers can help companies promote their products and services to their followers on an ongoing basis while demonstrating a personal connection with your brand or product offering.

  • Conversion Rate Optimization

One of the biggest challenges for e-commerce marketers is driving conversions on their website and mobile app. The best way to boost conversions is by personalizing the customer experience across all touchpoints.

You can also use predictive analytics tools that measure user behaviour and predict their buying preferences based on website interactions.

  • Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics can understand consumer behaviour at scale and deliver a personalized buying experience accordingly. 

It also allows you to optimize your marketing campaigns by sending the right message to the right consumer at the right time.

  • AI-Powered Chatbots

AI can learn about your company and its products on an ongoing basis and intelligently respond to all incoming requests.

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With the proliferation of chatbots, companies can deploy virtual assistants that act as your first point of contact for everyday customer service inquiries. Brands can also use AI-powered marketing tools like predictive analytics to understand consumer behaviour at scale and make necessary adjustments to their buying experiences. 

  • Content Marketing

Content marketing has been the most effective form of brand awareness and customer engagement for e-commerce companies.

Today, content marketing needs to incorporate a multi-channel approach that combines all forms of online communication, including social media outreach, mobile push notifications, etc.

  • Email Campaigns

Email marketing can be an effective way to send your content directly into your customers’ inboxes. You, however, have to ensure that you’re sending highly personalized messages based on past purchase behaviour and other data points.

Pros and Cons of Marketing 4.0

While the primary goal of Marketing 4.0 is to offer a personalized experience at each point of contact, it can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. That’s why marketers need to balance engaging with customers in an automated fashion and conducting personalized outreach.

The Pros of Marketing 4.0

  • Personalized customer experience for each consumer
  • Marketing automation across multiple channels
  • Improved marketing performance through multi-channel accessibility
  • Increased long-term brand loyalty
  • A reduction in the marketing costs per customer

The Cons of Marketing 4.0

  • Marketing automation across multiple channels can be time-consuming and resource-intensive
  • Time and resource-intensive approach
  • Inability to identify high-value customers at an early stage or engage with them consistently

Marketing 4.0: The Future of E-commerce and Omnichannel Campaigns

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With an estimated 79% of e-commerce purchases being made on smartphones in 2021, marketers are shifting their focus to mobile-based personalization.

Marketing 4.0 is here to stay, and it’s time for brands to adapt their marketing strategies quickly if they want to stay ahead of the curve.

So, what does the future hold for Marketing 4.0?

Soon, you’ll be able to outsource your marketing efforts to a machine that will take care of all aspects of customer engagement and retention. The power of AI will be integrated into personalized messaging, customer service, and predictive analytics to offer a streamlined insight-driven approach.

What does this mean for marketers?

It means greater efficiency and increased scope for innovation with a steady stream of customer feedback in the long run. For example, AI could help you discover the right content for customer engagement, find out where your high-value customers are located, and create personalized messages for each one of them.

The next step would be to develop an AI-powered marketing platform that seamlessly integrates your marketing efforts into a single cohesive strategy.

At the end of the day, if you’re looking to create a truly personalized buying experience for your customers, you need to adopt an omnichannel approach that addresses their unique needs at every touchpoint.

Challenges of Marketing 4.0

Several pitfalls can hamper the implementation of a scalable omnichannel marketing strategy. Here are seven of these challenges you should be aware of:

  • Lack of a Centralized Marketing Strategy

The most prominent challenge marketers face is juggling between different channels and strategies. As a result, cross-channel marketing is often fragmented, with a lack of a centralized strategy that addresses the unique needs of all customers on different channels.

  • Lack Of Resources

Another challenge marketers have to deal with is the lack of resources. It’s simply not possible to keep up with new technologies and customer demands without setting up a dedicated marketing team. And, while hiring new full-time employees can be quite costly, it’s even more challenging for small businesses that don’t have the budget.

  • Lack Of Customer Feedback or Insufficient Data

Engaging with customers and receiving feedback can be extremely challenging if you don’t have a centralized platform or sufficient data. This lack of information makes it difficult to quickly adapt your strategies and understand what your customers need from one channel to another.

  • High Competition

With more businesses entering the market, competition is fiercer than ever before. You have to keep up and get ahead of your competitors by adopting technology-driven strategies that can help you stay one step ahead.

  • Lack Of Innovation

The biggest challenge for marketers in 2021 is staying innovative and creative without falling behind. There’s a thin line between being ahead of the curve and falling behind. Customer expectations and competition fuel the need to stay innovative, and if you can’t meet their needs, it may damage your brand reputation.

  • Lack Of Customer Loyalty

Despite how effective your campaigns might be, you need to adopt a personalized approach that offers more than your competitors.

  • Changing Trends and Technologies

Technology changes so rapidly that it’s impossible to keep up with new trends and emerging technologies without staying abreast of the latest data science and machine learning developments.

Overcoming The Challenges of Marketing 4.0

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As you can see, the biggest challenge marketers face in 2021 is to implement scalable omnichannel marketing strategies capable of adapting to consumer needs at every touchpoint across different marketing channels. Here are seven tips that can help you overcome these challenges:

  • Gain Customer Feedback and Insight

The first step to overcoming the challenge of having insufficient data and resources is to build a centralized platform that can receive customer feedback and insights. One effective way of doing this would be through automated forms with smart technology that directly feeds customer data into your marketing automation software.

  • Create A Scalable Marketing Strategy

Creating a scalable marketing strategy requires marketers to have a dedicated marketing team that can work in collaboration with data scientists and software engineers. This way, you’ll be able to access the right information at the right time to make better decisions about your campaigns.

  • Offer More Than Your Competitors

Go the extra mile by offering more value to your customers through personalized content that can help you stand out from the crowd. One way of doing this would be to use automated dynamic remarketing campaigns that target specific customer segments with different messages based on immediate behavioural or contextual triggers.

  • Integrate Your Marketing Channels

Your omnichannel marketing strategy needs to integrate seamlessly across different channels to ensure a consistent experience for customers. That requires marketers to have expertise in data science, AI, and the right resources at their disposal.

  • Use Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics can help you better target your customers with relevant content based on their needs and interests. The latest advancements in data science have made it possible for marketers to offer more to their customers by building a multidimensional customer profile that incorporates demographic, geographic, behavioural and contextual data.

  • Keep Up with Technology

It’s extremely important to stay abreast of the latest technology trends to ensure that you’re able to implement scalable marketing strategies designed to adapt at every touchpoint.

  • Collaborate With Marketing Technology Providers

It can be extremely beneficial for marketers to collaborate with technology providers who have the required expertise and resources in AI and data science and the know-how to leverage these capabilities across different channels.

Short Form Vs. Long Form Content and Why You Need Both

Marketing 4.0 Best Practices for Omnichannel E-commerce

Now that you know the challenges of Marketing 4.0, here are some best practices that can help you overcome these challenges and boost your omnichannel e-commerce:

  1. Understand Your Buyers and their Journey: No two customers will have the same journey. Nor will they have the same questions or concerns. Understanding their experience with your brand will help you build a much stronger relationship with them, which can, in turn, help you drive more sales.
  2. Build Trust: Your customers are looking for brands they can trust. The best way to gain their trust is by being transparent about things like product specifications, delivery policies, and pricing structure.
  3. Select the Right Marketing Channels: Not all marketing channels will work for you. You need to understand which channels are right for your brand by considering your product offerings and target audience.
  4. Address Your Customers’ Needs: Very few customers have the same needs, so having a keen understanding of their individual needs is key to building a meaningful connection with them.
  5. Shift Your Focus from Mass Communication to Personalized Communication: One-size-fits-all messaging no longer works. You might want to use data science and AI to build a customer profile that can help you deliver targeted messages in real-time.
  6. Use the Right Tools: In Marketing 4.0, it’s never enough to have tools at your disposal. You need to understand how they work and what value they bring, and in what way.
  7. Stay Ahead of the Curve: There is a new technology trend on the horizon – AI and Machine Learning. It can boost your marketing efforts by offering powerful predictive analytics, automated content generation, and dynamic remarketing campaigns.
  8. Focus on Helping, not Selling: A long-term relationship with your customers is more beneficial than trying to close the sale every time you interact with them. Helping them understand what makes your brand unique and how it can fulfil their needs will go a long way in helping you gain more trust and loyalty.
  9. Focus on Helping, not Selling: A long-term relationship with your customers is more beneficial than trying to close the sale every time you interact with them. Helping them understand what makes your brand unique and how it can fulfil their needs will go a long way in helping you gain more trust and loyalty.
  10. Measure and Track Your Marketing Performance: Marketing 4.0 requires you to measure and track your marketing performance effectively. But what should you measure? What exactly are the right things to look for? And how should you go about finding them?

How to Implement Marketing 4.0 Across the Customer Journey

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Marketing 4.0 is the next step in the evolution of marketing. It’s a strategy that requires you to focus on four key areas – delivering personalized content, building trust, optimizing the customer experience, and leveraging technology.  But what are some ways in which you can implement these best practices across all marketing channels? Let’s take a look:

Marketing Automation – Marketing automation can help you identify prospects with similar behaviour patterns to your existing customers, nurture them through the buyer’s journey and deliver personalized content at every touchpoint.

Customer Data Platform – A customer data platform (CDP) consolidates all of your customer data into one place. This data is then cleansed, normalized, and made ready for AI.

Predictive Analytics – Predictive analytics can help you understand customer behaviour patterns across channels – this could be identifying the most lucrative customers based on their purchasing behaviour or understanding what they are likely to buy next.

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Real-Time Personalization – You need to build a personalized content strategy for each customer based on their buying behaviour, preferences, and location.

Dynamic Remarketing – Your customers are likely to bounce off of poorly targeted ads. Dynamic remarketing uses predictive analytics to correct this by targeting ads based on their already read or clicked on content.

Data-Driven Decision Making – While data is very important, you should also take a step back and use your intuition to make smart business decisions.

Marketing 4.0 and The Customer Journey

Two of the most effective ways businesses can connect with their prospects and customers are email marketing and social media. These are also the most popular digital marketing tools in use today – studies show that more than 80% of marketers worldwide use social media for business, while more than 60% use email marketing.

But do you really understand how these channels work? Are they delivering the value your brand needs? And what would happen if you used them more effectively?

Email Marketing for Marketing 4.0

Email marketing is more than just sending out newsletters or promotional offers to your customers. It is an effective channel to build relationships with your audience, engage them in conversations and provide personalized content based on their interests.  


Here’s a simple four-step process you can follow:

Develop a Strong Digital Marketing Strategy: Before you start your campaign, it’s important to understand your audience and their interests. It would help to create buyer personas that encompass all these details before designing your email marketing strategy.

Create Content That Converts: Content is the king in today’s marketplace. Your email should be a mix of informative and promotional content – this could include educational blog posts or video tutorials, sales alerts with discounts, event invites, and more.

Build a Segmented Email List: Only send emails to your niche audience – a wider audience will result in high bounce rates.

Send Emails Regularly: Don’t be a stranger – your subscribers want to hear from you. You can use tools like Campaign Monitor and Mail Chimp to send out personalized content regularly to keep your prospects engaged.

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Social Media for Marketing 4.0

If done right, social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote your brand.  

Here are some tips on how you can use social media for marketing 4.0:

Connect with Your Audience: If you want people to follow your brand on social media, you need to prioritize engagement. That means being involved in conversations and responding immediately whenever necessary. You can also use this channel to promote customer service.

Create Brand Advocates: Successful social media marketing demands that you understand your target audience and create content that appeals to them. That includes using hashtags, images and videos that resonate with your followers.

Use Mobile Marketing Tools: If you want to drive traffic from social media to other platforms like e-commerce stores, use mobile advertising tools to target the right audience.

Schedule Social Media Updates: Make the most of your time on social media by scheduling updates for a later date. You can use tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to do this.

Partner with Influencers: Social media influencers are experts in their industry who can help amplify your message to a wider audience. You can partner with these influencers by inviting them to contribute guest posts, curate content or even interview them about your brand.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Social Media




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