Multichannel vs. omnichannel: What is the difference?
The primary difference between omnichannel and multichannel is that multichannel marketing typically includes a limited selection of marketing channels, while omnichannel marketing tends to include all of them.
Multichannel marketing is a marketing strategy that includes multiple channels. Multichannel marketing encourages engagement within the steps of the shopping experience, building connections between the different channels of your brand. These connections are how your brand then reaches your customers.
For example, a multichannel marketing strategy could include emails reminding customers that they left an item in their shopping cart. Multichannel marketing could also lead to omnichannel marketing, a more holistic approach, which we’ll explore later.
Multichannel marketing works by fostering the connections between the various interactions of your customers. Think about the various ways your customers interact with your brand: in stores, while shopping online, in advertisements during entertainment. These are the places you can begin integrating your multichannel strategy and messaging.
Next, strategize how to make the experience both seamless and engaging for customers, while also efficiently using your time and resources. It’s also important to make sure your multichannel messaging, or the information presented in your marketing campaigns, is not repetitive during the customer experience. The goal is to improve the experience between channels such as social media, streaming ads, and physical stores.
Omnichannel marketing is a strategy that integrates all of your brand’s channels into a holistic experience for customers. Omnichannel marketing covers all touchpoints of the customer experience, beginning at the top of the marketing funnel and continuing all the way through post-purchase activities. It’s a more comprehensive version of multichannel marketing, incorporating all channels in a holistic strategy.
Omnichannel marketing works differently from multichannel marketing by integrating all channels into your advertising strategy. Since the omnichannel approach is all-encompassing, all omnichannel marketing strategies are also multichannel marketing strategies, but not all multichannel marketing strategies are omnichannel marketing strategies.
Omnichannel marketing doesn’t only include customer-centric content, either. For example, an omnichannel campaign would ensure advertisements are coordinated across social media promotions, banner ads in newsletters, and in-store posters. It can also include automating the process for analytics, performance metrics, and sales measurement too.
The key difference is that multichannel marketing includes a limited selection of content channels, while omnichannel marketing includes all of them. By definition, multichannel means “many channels” and omnichannel means “all channels.” Think of omnichannel marketing as covering your entire customer journey map, but multichannel marketing as narrowing down on a specific point A to point B.
Also, multichannel marketing focuses more on engagement within the different channels, while omnichannel marketing focuses on comprehension and a seamless brand experience for your customers.
Another aspect to consider is the retail presence of your products. Multichannel retail is the distribution of products in multiple channels: for example, selling goods on a website as well as in a physical store. Omnichannel retail, however, takes it further by considering the needs of customers and reaching them where they are, through all available channels. For instance, that could include integrating ads in at-home streaming experiences, rather than waiting for them to visit a store. Multichannel retail is a straight line from the brand to the customer, whereas the path of omnichannel retail is more fluid or circular.
Your strategy decision should be based on your overall business goals. If you’re seeking to improve specific brand objectives, multichannel strategies could help. Alternatively, if you want to improve the overall customer experience, an omnichannel strategy can help you improve the bigger picture.
Additionally, your choice also depends on your resources. It may be difficult for a smaller brand to launch a fully comprehensive omnichannel strategy, so starting with smaller steps in the multichannel approach is a good way to build momentum over time. It’s not necessary to immediately launch a website, email newsletter, social media, and marketing campaigns all at the same time, for example, and it can be beneficial to initially focus on individual silos and add updates later. In summation, there is not one right answer, nor do you have to choose only one: Multichannel and omnichannel strategies can work in conjunction too.
Advertising opportunities expand across in-person stores, at-home streaming, and a variety of other locales, and advertisers are considering the multichannel or omnichannel approach to help them reach new customers, improve the customer experience, and increase their brand visibility. Here are four examples of effectively combining these approaches.