Multi-channel Marketing vs Omnichannel Marketing

Multi-channel and omnichannel marketing are often used interchangeably. While both of these approaches have plenty in common, there are a few important differences that make each one unique. On the surface, it is easy to treat these two strategies as being exactly the same. To get a better understanding of the subtle differences, it helps to look at the definitions of each strategy:

Multi-channel marketing typically refers to a strategy that incorporates various channels. These could include email marketing, mobile marketing, lead generation, and various other strategies that all help to target customers, increase retention, and grow results.

Omnichannel marketing refers to a multi-channel strategy that is integrated and holistic. Whether shopping from a computer, mobile device or traditional store, the customer experience is integrated and seamless, in a way that drives conversion and sales.

Image: IBM.com

While both have a lot in common – especially the ability to use multiple channels to connect with customers – each strategy has a unique role to play in the overall customer journey. In this guide, we take a closer look at the differences in each strategy, to show you how both can be used to grow your results.

How Does Multi-Channel Differ From Omnichannel Marketing?

There are a few ways that multichannel and omnichannel marketing differ. Some of the most important differences include the following:

Omnichannel focuses on the customer rather than the channel.

Essentially, multi-channel strategies aim to incorporate a large number of channels to effectively reach customers at every touch point. This could be considered casting a large net in order to bring in the maximum number of customers. Engagement plays a key role in this strategy, as does the conversion. With this strategy, more than one channel is typically used, which often include the channels that drive the most engagement for each specific audience.

Omnichannel strategies, on the other hand, while also using channels, focus more on the journey than the channel. This type of strategy is all about the customer experience, whichever channel they are reached. The goal of this type of strategy is to strengthen relationships, build trust, and drive engagement on a deeper level. By targeting customers at each stage of their journey, in a way that is holistic and streamlined, typical barriers to the sale are greatly removed, while the overall experience is greatly simplified for customers, adding genuine value.

Omnichannel focuses on consistency as well as engagement.

While multi-channel strategies focus on engagement as well, they do not always provide a consistent experience. This is because customers engage with content differently across each separate channel. Although a multi-channel approach is far better than a single channel approach, omnichannel goes even further to provide a consistent brand experience.

Ideally, customers should have the same experience across every single channel. When this happens, there is a far better chance of driving trust, reputation, and relationships. Customers will essentially know that they will have the same experience, whether shopping online, from a mobile device, in-store or through any other channel that they may favour. For this to work, however, it is essential that every department works together to provide a flawless brand experience and consistent messaging across sales, marketing, customer service, and every other department.

Omnichannel is effortless and natural.

Although every digital strategy takes work, it should never feel that way to customers. While multi-channel campaigns can seem like a lot of effort to connect with customers across various platforms, omnichannel should always seem effortless. The easier it is for customers to interact, shop, and engage, the better your chances of conversion and retention.

At its heart, omnichannel is about simplifying the shopping experience for customers. The fewer customers have to think or work, the more likely they will be to shop. Usability comes into play here, of course. But once again, store-wide integration is also essential. When sales, marketing, and customer care teams work together to provide a seamless experience, the result is almost always customer loyalty.

Omnichannel optimises conversion.

Finally, omnichannel marketing is also highly effective for driving conversion. It goes without saying that the easier it is for customers to shop, they more likely they are to enjoy your store. By the same logic, when the customer experience is improved, customer trust increases along with customer loyalty. This, in turn, drives higher spend per purchase and also increases the overall customer lifetime value.

For the best results, this strategy should also incorporate conversion optimisation. Faster load speeds, simplified checkout processes, smart features, abandoned cart recovery strategies, and various other conversion tactics will all work hand in hand with your omnichannel plan.

Getting Started with Omnichannel Marketing

Now that we’ve covered a few of the ways that omnichannel marketing differs from multi-channel, how do you go about getting started? Here are a few things that you will need to get going:

Clearly defined goals.

Without clearly defined goals, you are, by all accounts, shouting into the proverbial void. Whether your goal is specific (increase retention by x%; grow conversion rates by x%; drive loyalty by x%) or broad (bring in new customers), you will need to define your goals in order to start reaching your goals. From there, you can use your statistics to determine the kind of information your customers are searching for, whether or not they are downloading your free content, how they engage with you across various channels, what point of the journey customers typically convert, whether they are optimised accurately across each channel, and whether you are doing everything you can to reach them at the right time. Have you created upsell and cross-sell opportunities? Are you sending out responsive abandoned cart emails and other messages that can be viewed on any device? Are you segmenting your lists and using lead scoring, personalisation or other strategies?

Solid insight into customer behaviour.

That brings us to our next point. How much insight do you have on your customers? Have you created unique profiles? Is your lead scoring working properly to identify valuable leads? Are you investing in A/B testing? Which channels are used more than others? Which channels could you make use of more effectively? What are your customers’ goals, challenges, and needs? Use customer feedback, try surveys and social listening, leverage your lead pages and make sure that you have a deep insight into how they are interacting with your brand.

Coordinated efforts across the board.

Omnichannel can only be truly successful when it is embraced across the board. If your marketing team is investing time and effort in creating unique strategies that target customers at each stage, you want to ensure that your sales and customer care teams are there to continue the experience without interruption. If customers have a smooth experience on certain channels, only to have a less-than-stellar experience on another channel, you will lose any possible benefits almost immediately. At best, you will have to start over again. At worst, you may lose the customer completely.

Invest in the right tools.

Nothing can compare to a fully integrated digital marketing platform that simplifies the customer experience in a way that saves you time, effort and resources. There are many amazing tools that help to provide customers with a consistent experience, including Grapevine Interactive’s digital marketing platform.

To learn more about how our digital marketing platform takes your omnichannel marketing efforts to the next level, simply get in touch with our team today.

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