Omnichannel Vs. Multichannel Marketing Strategies: What’s the Difference?

There are a lot of ways to market your brand in 2022, from web ads to content marketing and even sponsors.

But with more choices than ever, it can be easy to leave gaps between your outreach channels that leave consumers stranded and discouraged. Disjointed branding can lead to more lost sales than one might believe.

Juggling a multitude of marketing efforts has become a science in the past decade or so, especially with the prevalence of new interconnected technology. The concept of multichannel marketing and, later on, omnichannel marketing, came about as a result.

But what actually is multichannel and omnichannel marketing? What makes them different, and which type of marketing is most effective for your brand?

Breaking It Down

To begin, let’s discuss what channels are.

A marketing channel is a means or platform through which you engage with your brand’s audience. For example, fliers are a form of print marketing, commercials are considered television marketing, and status updates fall under social media marketing.

These are all different marketing channels that can be utilized to maximize marketing output.

Generally, there are two main categories for marketing channels to fall under: in-person marketing and digital marketing.

In-person marketing channels consist of posters, business cards, customer engagements with staff, coupons, and other types of physical brand representation. These channels take place in real life and are often found at events, expos, and in stores.

Digital marketing channels involve all aspects of a brand that use the internet or other forms of electronic media as their vessel. Web-based content, e-commerce experiences, social media, email campaigns, and more make up the digital marketing focus in this category.

What is Multichannel Marketing?

Multichannel marketing is the idea of pushing your brand outreach through not one, but many different marketing channels at the same time. This includes both in-person and digital channels.

When a brand has its own Facebook page, brick-and-mortar cardboard cutouts, newspaper ads, and website, it is utilizing a multichannel marketing approach. It sinks its eggs into many baskets instead of just one.

Most channels within multichannel marketing will encourage a viewer to pursue the experience further by delving into another brand-related channel. In-store discounts after a buyer signs up for an email list is one example.

A multichannel marketing approach creates various different ways a consumer can involve themselves in the brand experience before arriving at an end point call-to-action—that typically being to purchase the product or service. After reaching the end point, it is up to the consumer to make the decision of what to do next, giving a level of agency to the prospect.

What is Omnichannel Marketing?

As technology gradually became more compatible and integrated in the 2010s, the tried-and-true concept of multichannel marketing was taken a step further, evolving into interconnected omnichannel marketing.

Omnichannel marketing focuses on taking all of a brand’s marketing channels and blending them together into one seamless experience. Omnichannel allows a consumer to conveniently interact with all channels without being left to wonder what their next move will be and possibly deciding against the sale. A brand’s channels are thus designed to facilitate users on their buying journey through a single ecosystem rather than multiple disconnected instances.

Omnichannel removes agency from the shopper. Instead, it makes the experience straightforward and the purchase decision simple.

The omnichannel experience picks up a prospect no matter where they enter the marketing continuum and carries them through a spectrum of channels before dropping them off at the point-of-sale. Accessibility, convenience, and simplicity on the user end are the driving advantages of omnichannel marketing.

In-store pick-up, home delivery, customizable shipping options, and rewards programs are all excellent examples of omnichannel strategies. Having all channels work together in harmony allows these features to function.

How are Multichannel and Omnichannel Marketing Different?

Multichannel and Omnichannel marketing differ greatly in their approach to user experience.

As demonstrated in a multichannel approach, a potential buyer will have nowhere to turn once they’ve traveled through a single channel’s offerings. There exists one defined start point, and one defined end point, with nothing to bridge the gap.

For instance: an email promotion might do a fine job reaching a wide audience and educating about a product deal, but if there are no links to easily allow the viewer to capitalize on the sale (or at least learn more), the chances of the conversion are low. The user would need to manually search for the brand website and find the specific deal, or even call the store to inquire about it. That’s one too many steps that most people would rather just click away from.

Compared to the “point-to-point” structure of multichannel marketing, omnichannel marketing seeks to connect every channel in a marketing strategy together. Users are then able to see the deal in their inboxes, view all content surrounding the deal, and apply the discount to their online cart for either in-store pick-up or shipping. Additionally, other links and forms of content will entice the buyer to stick within the experience even after the purchase.

The only time a viewer leaves the brand experience is when they feel the desire to leave on their own. There are no end points in a true omnichannel journey.

Therefore, the benefits of omnichannel are quite large compared to multichannel. Omnichannel provides the ease of access that modern shoppers have come to expect from retailers while granting prospects fluid passage between all marketing channels. This strengthens both the outreach and efficacy of all marketing endeavors made within the brand.

Nevertheless, an omnichannel approach requires a good deal of communication and teamwork across an entire company to work. Departments must ensure that their services compliment one another, while in-store management and staff need to coordinate and reflect the chosen strategy. If even one piece of an omnichannel experience is fragmented with a dead-end, the entire spectrum will have difficulty holding together, as some shoppers will not be supported in their journey.

Conclusion

In more ways than one, it’s clear that the current culture has come to favor user experience and accessibility above all else in the marketing landscape. An omnichannel marketing strategy has clear advantages that work in tandem with modern buyer expectations to carry a brand much further than if it simply spread its net wide and hoped for the best—the “spray and pray” method is outdated.

Gather together your brand’s teams, resources, and capabilities before getting them on the same page and ensuring a successful venture into an omnichannel dimension of marketing.

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