Developing the right marketing strategy for your business is about more than simply pulling together different tools and hoping they work. You need full control and understanding of what you choose to use, how you choose to use it and how you’re aiming to combine different tools and in what manner. Omnichannel and multichannel marketing are two different approaches that many marketers confuse, and more problematically, use interchangeably to mean the same thing. Each of these strategies is different and the way in which they make the most of the tools and channels available to a campaign is a key defining factor of what makes them unique.
Differentiating between omnichannel and multichannel marketing is important, so the consumer understands what you’re trying to do, and your customer experience is properly thought out and planned, not a conglomeration of different theories and approaches.
Multichannel and omnichannel marketing sound similar, but they are not the same and those working in marketing need to understand the difference to do the best for their business. Let’s look more closely at the differences between each marketing strategy.
Put simply, multichannel marketing is the process of interacting with prospective leads and customers through different channels. These could include mobile, direct mail, print ads, landing pages, websites, and various social media channels, from the obvious like Facebook and Twitter to more niche platforms like Behance and Stack Overflow. Each of the channels used in a multichannel marketing strategy operates independently with its own set of goals and direction.
Multichannel marketing is an enhancement of single channel, where the focus is solely with engaging the target market on one platform. Multichannel marketing gives brands the chance to reach out to a broader spectrum of leads and to interact with a wider range of prospective customers who can be found in different places on and offline.
Customers like choice and as McKinsey found, 73% of them use multiple channels to engage with their preferred brands, so having a strong presence on different platforms matters. Customers like to see their favorite brands represented on their favorite social platforms, and on other channels too, so a multichannel marketing strategy meets the expectations of customers right now.
When it comes to revenue, multichannel marketers are found to generate more for their businesses, too. Invespcro found multichannel consumers spend 3x more than single channelers and this is worth keeping in mind. A well-optimized multichannel marketing strategy reaps rewards.
Omnichannel marketing is a development of multichannel marketing, and still involves the use of multiple platforms and channels for the benefit of your marketing strategy. Omnichannel differs from multichannel marketing because the focus is on providing an integrated experience. Every channel involved in the strategy is connected and used in conjunction with others. Omnichannel marketing is all about integration and the aim is to provide a seamless and fully connected experience for customers, whatever platform(s) they choose to use.
Harvard Business Review reports that 73% of consumers utilize many different channels throughout their path to purchase. This is further supported by research by Business2Comminity who found 71% of in-store shoppers use their smartphones while in store to look up supplemental information as they browse. These figures alone show the importance of an interconnected online and physical customer experience and journey, with online channels reflecting the in-store experience and vice-versa.
The modern consumer expects this kind of experience and omnichannel marketing is instrumental in making it possible.
Omnichannel marketing operates along the same principles as multichannel marketing, in that the aim is to create the same high level of consistent and ubiquitous customer experience and journey across all platforms.
For new brands and businesses, this can be the most difficult step. Choosing the most popular and far-reaching channels makes natural sense but an omnichannel approach is all about personalized customer experiences and tapping closely into their wants and desires. In some fields, this means tapping into niche networks and platforms, tailored specifically to the industries and sectors you want to reach.
Most brands have a mixed strategy that involves utilizing the biggest networks and channels, including global social networks and email marketing as well as more niche platforms specific to industry, or local platforms suitable for businesses with a local target audience.
While it is quite clear above how these types of marketing strategy differ, it is important to look more clearly at the differences when considering the right approach for your target audience.
Multichannel marketing is focused on spreading your message as far and wide as possible. It is a way of attracting the higher level of customer engagements possible. It usually makes considerable use of social media platforms and email marketing.
Omnichannel can be focused on a smaller number of platforms but a more concise and customer-focused message. It centers on creating messaging which keeps the customer engaged and delivers a personalized customer experience.
Multichannel marketing keeps different platforms and channels separate, which can lead to a disconnect when it comes to consistent messaging. It is possible to create consistent branding and messaging in a multichannel marketing strategy, but it involves more management.
Omnichannel marketing focuses on the overall customer experience, with all channels integrated and relying upon each other to create the overall message. This makes it easier to keep things consistent and to ensure messaging is consistent across all media.
Multichannel marketing can make it quite difficult to provide customers with a personalized experience, as the process mainly focuses on spreading the message as far as possible and ending in a call-to-action. Omnichannel marketing has the additional focus of attempting to build a full and evolving picture of the customer and getting to know them at the same time. This means the messaging and approach from channel to channel may be tweaked to offer a more personalized result.
No marketing approach is without difficulty and both multichannel and omnichannel marketing require specific skill sets, effort, and approaches. Anticipating the pitfalls of any strategy is key to making a success of it, and by looking at issues you may encounter in advance, you can notice the tell-tale signs during your strategy and campaign planning.
Whether opting for the omnichannel or multichannel marketing route, these strategies eat up a lot of man hours, require high energy and often high capital to get started. This is one key barrier that many businesses recognize when considering this type of marketing strategy. It raises the question: is it worth the input?
The more channels you utilize in any marketing plan, the more resources are required to manage them effectively. As you become more active and functional on each channel, more resources will again be required but if the strategy is working well, you should be getting some degree of ROI. It is important to have an idea of your route to success planned, mapping out the following points:
If these figures add up, then it’s a good sign your campaign is a sensible step forward for your business. If not, it’s worth rethinking your strategy before ploughing time and money into it.
To deliver excellence in your omnichannel and multichannel marketing campaigns there must be cohesion in your team. Siloed data and separate marketing teams will never deliver the results you want. Separate teams working on different parts of strategy is essential but them coming together to ensure cohesiveness and the brand image being maintained and projected is key. Your social media management team needs to regularly communicate and share its findings with the team working on brand messaging for your website, email marketing and app. The bigger the team and number of channels needed, the more difficult it can become.
To avoid silos within your team and disconnect in your content and brand message:
Your team members may be used to working in their own specific area and so it might take some time to readjust. But it is worth it to ensure your messaging is effective and your customers get the best possible experience.
Omnichannel marketing relies on the idea of becoming an omnipresent force in the lives of customers, but this isn’t what everyone wants. There is some risk involved in being too pushy or invasive. A RichRelevance study found that 69% of consumers consider the use of artificial intelligence to automatically purchase products for them a step too far and much too invasive. The same study found many find chatbots off-putting too as they attempt to mimic human interaction but don’t quite get there.
Technology is improving every day and many customers are interested and engaged with the latest innovations, but it isn’t always the case. Part of understanding and tailoring your strategy to your audience is recognizing this and delivering an experience in line with their expectations, without becoming an overbearing annoyance. Being available and accessible as a brand is one thing, but there is a limit to what the consumer wants. A good brand knows its target audience well enough to gauge this right.
Omnichannel marketing has become the leading choice for retailers and eCommerce businesses looking to tailor the customer experience as precisely as possible. This doesn’t necessarily mean this is the right approach for your business and every marketer has his or her strengths, which could lie in multichannel marketing. In these instances, this type of strategy could be ideal.
Customer experience is more important than almost all other factors in the sales process. It’s becoming even more important to customers than pricing and even the product in some instances, so building a strong customer base that is loyal and that advocates your brand is essential.
Maintaining an isolated presence on each platform or device works and has worked for many years, but as consumers may be checking prices on their Smartwatch, ordering via their phone, and waiting for updates via their Alexa or Google-powered smart home devices, the most successful brands are creating a voice which is recognizable and instantly “them” across all platforms.
Understanding the difference between omnichannel and multichannel marketing is essential for making the right decisions for your brand. Trialling different strategies is also a great way of discovering which approach is the most effective for you. The majority of consumers expect an all-round and consistent brand message, which is easily achieved with omnichannel marketing but a multichannel approach might be something you’re experienced in and confident into putting into practice, so it certainly shouldn’t be discounted.