Home » 4 Important Differences Between Multi-Channel & Omnichannel Marketing

4 Important Differences Between Multi-Channel & Omnichannel Marketing

Lindsay Tjepkema
Lindsay Tjepkema , Global Head of Content , Emarsys

The eruption of new technology and new marketing strategies has ushered in a new wave of terminology with which marketers must quickly become acquainted. Two newer terms that immediately come to mind are multi-channel marketing and omnichannel marketing.

The Difference Between Multi-Channel and Omnichannel

Previous blog posts have tackled the often blurry nuances between multi-channel and omnichannel, as they are frequently debated. In fact, at their core, there may not appear to be too much of a difference. For example, take a look at their definitions:

Multi-Channel Marketing

Multi-channel marketing refers to the ability to interact with potential customers on various platforms. A channel, for instance, might be a print ad, a retail location, a website, a promotional event, a product’s package, or word-of-mouth.

Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel marketing refers to the multi-channel sales approach that provides the customer with an integrated shopping experience. The customer can be shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, via phone, or in a brick-and-mortar store, and the experience will be seamless.

Upon first glance, it seems as though the aim of each approach is to interact with consumers via an assortment of different channels, but although the terms may appear to be only subtly different, the true meanings and resulting strategies go down two distinctly different paths.

Woman In Shopping Mall Using Mobile Phone

To better explain the uniqueness of multi-channel and omnichannel marketing strategies, let’s hone in on four key differences.

1. The Channel vs. The Customer

The multi-channel approach looks to blast messaging out via the maximum possible number of channels. This approach is focused on casting the widest net to get the most customer engagements. In this method, quantity is king. Companies utilising the multi-channel strategy adopt two or more channels to engage their consumers; typically those channels are focused on social media and email.

On the other hand, the omnichannel approach inter-relates every channel from brick and mortar to mobile, engaging with customers holistically and ensuring they are having a wonderful overall experience with the brand regardless of channel. The focus is on building a stronger relationship between consumers and the brand. For example, in 2017 the number of smartphone users in Singapore is estimated to reach 4.3 million. Working to reach target audiences and provide the same top tier brand experience via their mobile devices as they receive in-store can be extremely impactful in strengthening that relationship.

Those companies with well-defined omnichannel customer experience strategies in place achieve a 91% higher year-over-year increase in customer retention rate on average, compared to organisations without omnichannel programs in place.

2. Consistency vs. Engagement

Omnichannel’s focus on the customer’s experience brings about the second of the critical differences between the strategies: consistency. With an omnichannel strategy in place, businesses can be diligent in ensuring their customers receive the same experience and messaging through each and every channel. A consistent brand image and message ensure a heightened sense of familiarity and relationship with the brand.

Marketers implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy must ensure that all internal departments are on board and in-tune with the messaging. For example, PR, customer success, social media and even sales teams, must all be portraying this consistent message to ensure the strategy implementation is successful.

3. Effort vs. Effortless

Another priority of omnichannel marketing is in “understanding how to eliminate effort from the customer experience” according to Misia Tramp, the EVP of Insights and Innovations for Tahzoo.

She goes on to explain: “There is a tendency to consider the many channels available to connect with consumers today as simply more options to be used. That’s more of a multi-channel approach. Omnichannel involves using data to understand where effort exists in the customer experience and how to remove, rather than add, effort.”

Omnichannel marketing seeks to foster an effortless buying experience for consumers.

4. Optimization

We have established that many of our clients at Emarsys, and companies in the wider marketplace, have multi-channel marketing efforts. Additionally, more and more of those clients and companies have been trying to work across those channels more productively, to enable effective and measurable commerce independent of the channels themselves.

That sense of working more efficiently, along with optimising the use of each channel, caters to the omnichannel approach. Omnichannel marketing is all about the individualised and consistent customer experience. Individualising that experience is found through true understanding of the customer journey. A recent study from Econsultancy entitled, Understanding the Customer Journey in Asia-Pacific, produced in association with Emarsys, takes a look at APAC customer journeys and the understanding of those organisations. Most respondents included in the study were from Singapore and Indonesia.

Final Thoughts

Omnichannel and multi-channel marketing are two very distinct and separate marketing strategies, even though both focus on the use of multiple channels to reach consumers and potential consumers. Marketers must make the shift to focus on omnichannel efforts in order to increase customer retention and in turn, revenue.

Want to learn more about omnichannel marketing? Read our whitepaper on adapting to the pace of omnichannel marketing.

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