Consumer, Strategy

Closing the Omnichannel Gap: Creating Engagement Across the Journey

Creating “micro-moments” along the customer journey to maximize opportunities with customers and strengthen a brand’s omnichannel approach

BY: Nicole Turner | Executive Vice President, Client Service

PUBLISHED: 7/18/2023

A focused omnichannel strategy can be a bear for brands to implement - and successfully at that. Elevating the degree of difficulty is the fact that changing consumer habits, behaviors, and expectations have created an urgency for brands to deliver an omnichannel approach. For restaurant brands aiming to close the omnichannel gap and successfully drive traffic and sales in a crowded market, they must be smart about building a brand that delivers a modern customer experience across the path to purchase.

And the data backs it up.

Multiple studies on the subject conclude that brands that employ an omnichannel strategy specifically tailored to their needs and offerings are not only likely to effectively reach their target audience, but are much more likely to capitalize on their efforts in the form of increases in revenue and customer loyalty. Meanwhile, the adoption of restaurant mobile apps is on the rise, with 36% of consumers having at least one QSR app installed on their phones, according to SMG. This creates a prime opportunity for brands to deliver a seamless experience when done right.

Growth, however, requires a combination of building the brand at the broader level (regional or national) while making the “cash register ring” at the local level. To convert customers and drive purchases, brands must seek to deliver a fully integrated experience at every touchpoint leading up to the restaurant (and beyond) across digital and physical touchpoints. This requires an omnichannel approach that considers both. However, this experience is only as good as your data and its ability to accurately and seamlessly convey customer information across channels, enabling your brand to appropriately meet the customer where they are.

Where brands often fall short, however, is in the opportunity to create “micro-moments” across the customer journey. We define a micro-moment as a moment when people reflexively turn to a device, like a smartphone, to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something.

Creating impactful micro-moments is about building deep emotional connections with customers, as deeper emotional connections often lead to increases in brand preference, loyalty, sales, and profits. Examples include sharing fun and engaging content with customers, order updates, coupons and offers, or recommendations on new things to try. All are great pathways that enable brands to capitalize on opportunities with their audience, but to create these moments, brands must truly know their audience.

Storytelling is key, but the story has to be relevant and personalized for the customer. That’s why data must inspire what those stories are and inform what those engagements look like. Yet, this is precisely the area where so many brands falter, oftentimes possessing data that is insufficiently related to getting to know the customer and producing insights-driven creative that compels action. After all, people “eat with their eyes,” thus the messaging should be actively working to pull that lever.

To begin, consider the “4Ds,” a framework MERGE devised to help brands make the most of their opportunities with customers:


Discover: Gather intelligence and promote meaningful insight as a basis for breakthrough ideas. Focus on metrics that directly correlate to fueling traffic and discover which channels are best to reach a captive audience.


Define and design: Create a plan that captures the moments that matter along the customer journey and identifies solutions that together power a connected experience.


Develop and deploy: Bring creative to life through expertly crafted systems and assets that engage audiences across platforms and channels.


Deconstruct and redeploy: Use data, analytics, and automation to iterate solutions, improve performance, guide decisions, and deliver more valuable experiences for your brand and your customers.


Case-in-point: Transforming a local brand into a national chain

Take for example MERGE’s work with our client Marco’s Pizza. It began with talking to consumers to uncover the universal truths about pizza lovers to understand the rituals of how they enjoy one of America’s most beloved foods, as well as the triggers that lead to a purchase. Things like eating a slice in an unconventional way, saving the crust to use for a different food creation, or buckling the pizza box in a seat belt on the way home after pick-up to ensure it gets to its final destination undisturbed - these are the kinds of relatable experiences pizza lovers connect with.

From there, it was about employing an omnichannel strategy that focused on the highest value moments in the purchase journey that would maximize the ROI considering the brand’s limited budget compared to giants in the pizza category. MERGE’s approach was to tell the pizza lover story big and loud on TV for awareness, focusing the bulk of impressions during early fringe times when people are buying pizza for dinner. 

Next, we were able to see that people directly search for the brand after seeing an ad, or engage in social media. It was important for the brand to show up in these two spaces to nudge consumers towards purchase. Lastly, there are little things that help to secure the purchase, like having the promotion front and center on the website or app (e.g. using video when possible to increase appetite appeal…”eat with your eyes”) and having phone scripts ready for front line employees when someone calls looking to place an order.

In the end, despite being vastly outspent and having much lower brand awareness compared to rivals in the QSR pizza category, Marco’s Pizza - with help from MERGE - has grown to become a more than $1 billion enterprise.

The Wrap

The proof is in the pudding. By understanding the micro-moments and engaging customers with relevant content, brands (of all sizes and offerings) can maximize opportunities, maintaining a consistent and personalized storytelling approach that is informed by data and prioritizes brand objectives.

Looking to employ an omnichannel strategy that’s tailor fit for your brand? Meet with a member of MERGE’s team of marketing experts to get started!