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

4 Important Differences Between Multi-Channel & Omnichannel Marketing

Lisa Manthei
Lisa Manthei

With new marketing technology and the evolution of marketing strategies in today’s landscape comes a new wave of terminology with which marketers need to become acquainted. Two new-age definitions that immediately come to mind are multi-channel marketing and omnichannel marketing.

What’s the Difference Between Multi-Channel and Omnichannel?

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.

The lines are so blurred here, and the debate so frequent, that we have written about it before. At their core, there does not appear to be much of a difference. Take their definitions for instance:

Multi-Channel Marketing

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

Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel 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

4 Important Differences Between Multi-Channel & Omnichannel Marketing

To better explain the uniqueness of multi-channel and omnichannel marketing strategies, we can hone in on four key differences. Enjoy!

1. The Channel vs. The Customer

The multi-channel approach merely aims to get the word out via the maximum possible number of channels. Multi-channel marketing is about casting the widest net to get the most customer engagements; the more the merrier. Companies utilizing the multi-channel strategy are adopting two or more channels to engage their consumers; most popular are social media and email.

Conversely, the omnichannel approach inter-relates every channel to engage with customers as a holistic whole, to ensure they are having a wonderful overall experience with the brand throughout each and every channel. The focus is on building a stronger relationship between consumers and the brand.

In fact, 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 organizations without omnichannel programs in place.

2. Consistency vs. Engagement

Omnichannel’s focus on the customer’s experience brings about the second key difference between the strategies: consistency. Omnichannel businesses are 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 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, as told by Misia Tramp, the EVP of Insights and Innovations for Tahzoo, is in “understanding how to eliminate effort from the customer experience”.

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 wants to foster an effortless buying experience for consumers.

4. Optimization

We have established that many of our clients, 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, and optimizing the use of each channel, caters to the omnichannel approach. Omnichannel marketing is all about the individualized and consistent customer experience.

In Conclusion

The bottom line is that omnichannel and multi-channel marketing are two unique strategies that both aim to reach consumers and potential consumers by leveraging multiple channels. Marketers must make the shift to focus on omnichannel efforts in order to increase customer retention and in turn, revenue.

Interested in learning more about multichannel vs omnichannel strategies? Be sure to check out this infographic.

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