The Difference Between Multichannel and Omnichannel Marketing

    

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As technology advances, there are now more ways than ever to buy products. When it comes to eCommerce, social selling, digital marketplaces, and physical storefronts, there are two types of avenues that marketers use to craft their overall customer experience: omnichannel and multichannel marketing. Before we dive into the intricacies of each approach and which one is right for your business, let’s discuss the difference.

Multichannel or Omnichannel, What’s the Difference?

Multichannel, or “many channel,” marketing revolves around your product and gives your customers a choice to engage on the channel that they prefer, while implementing a single strategy across those channels. Brand behavior and marketing tactics are more confined to these specific channels. A channel may be an email, a digital ad, a retail location, an eCommerce platform, a mobile app, or any number of ways to reach a customer. The goal here is to give your customers a choice and allow them to purchase when and where they want to. 

Omnichannel, or “all channel,” marketing is immersive and more customer-centric than product-centric. Customers can purchase wherever they are. The boundaries between sales and marketing channels are removed to create a more integrated approach of a singular experience of commerce—on-site, social, mobile, email, and in-store. Omnichannel marketing first focuses on the customer watching their engagement and using data to make informed decisions to optimize campaigns. Customer engagement is at the forefront of omnichannel marketing and no longer just involves delivering one message to one person at any given time.  We now must determine the right channel. 

Is Multichannel or Omnichannel Best for My Business?

Determining which strategy is right for your business starts with this question: what type of customer experience do you want to have?

The multichannel approach is all about casting the widest net to get the maximum amount of customer engagement. This approach will increase your reach to potential customers if you have a consistent brand message because it offers your customers a buying choice, making it easier for them to purchase when, how, and where they want to. Multichannel requires more traditional strategies and might be right for your business if you currently have only a small number of marketing channels and don’t plan to expand in the future. Businesses with fewer channels can develop content for each unique platform based on your marketing goals. 

Perhaps your goals are to drive more sales from new purchases, encourage new purchases from existing customers, or increase your brand’s influence. With an integrated multichannel marketing strategy, you can create a unique audience experience on each individual channel.


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Most marketers consider omnichannel as the next evolution of multichannel marketing. Omnichannel marketing flips the model of creating content and information siloed to one specific channel and creates a seamless experience overall. Rather than using your own channels to find new customers, you’re identifying those new customers and helping them find their preferred channels. That ideal customer will ideally see your message multiple times, as they move devices and move between channels.

Omnichannel marketing has several advantages. According to the Harvard Business Review, 73% of consumers are active on multiple channels as they go to make a purchase. As the number of channels to interact with your customers increases, the opportunity for lead generation increases. Omnichannel orchestrates all of your channel activities for increasing the overall performance of your efforts. Because the customer data is unified across all experiences, you will be able to have more insights into their behavior and preferences. With this increased customer opportunity and heightened knowledge of behaviors, you will be able to have stronger customer retention, as well as re-attract stagnant or lost customers back into your purchasing funnel. 

The Future of Marketing

The eCommerce industry is changing and becoming something entirely different. The digital and brick-and-mortar experience is becoming increasingly more seamless, and customers today have more choices than ever. At the end of the day, the main goal should always be to provide your customer with an enjoyable, seamless (end-to-end), connected experience that positively impacts sales and brand loyalty. 

All brands, whether big or small have to engage with customers where they are. This means using each individual platform as a unique content funnel. Marketing in general will continue to evolve into 2020 and beyond as more insights become available and the customer journey to purchase continues to grow. Consistency and understanding are the two crucial components to creating a successful customer experience. Whether you adopt a multichannel or omnichannel marketing approach, keeping these two factors in mind will be the key to your success.

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