Nowadays, in the digital world, everything is evolving at an impossibly fast pace. If we talk about shoppers’ journey, it is impossible to predict new terms and concepts because everything is constantly changing in the blink of an eye, the way shoppers used to shop and the way we used to reach our customers. In this article, we are going to talk about omnichannel vs multichannel and why there’s a shift to omnichannel. 

There’s been some confusion in all of this as new ideas are thrown into the collective thought cloud we all share, especially when it comes to multichannel and omnichannel marketing.

Yes, we know you’re thinking what’s the difference? Are they just buzzwords? And if they’re not just buzzwords, how come these words hold so much importance in marketing strategy? 

Don’t worry! You’re gonna get all the answers to these questions. We will be comparing and contrasting omnichannel vs multichannel marketing. This article aims to differentiate between the two strategies and identify which is suitable for your business in an era where consumers are demanding content through a plethora of connected devices and touchpoints.

Let’s start with multichannel and get a clear idea of what multichannel marketing actually is. 


What is Multichannel Marketing? And What Are The Key Differences Between Omnichannel vs Multichannel Marketing?

Multichannel marketing is an approach which provides customers with more than one way to complete a sales transaction. That means you can complete your transaction through a retail store, a web page on the internet, or even through your mobile phones. 

This is the key difference between omnichannel vs multichannel marketing. 

Multichannel marketing spans many different channels, like social media platforms, mobile, email, and a physical location. Every channel is separate and independent from the others and works in a vacuum, each with its own strategy and goals. That’s exactly why it is not an effective marketing approach. 

Multichannel marketing is much easier but far from as effective as omnichannel marketing because, like any marketing strategy doomed to failure, it doesn’t put the customer at the centre of it and in marketing, nothing is as important as giving customers a satisfying experience. Another difference between omnichannel vs multichannel marketing is that multichannel lacks the integration, that’s how confusion gets created and then eventually shoppers get frustrated and never come back. 


Multichannel Marketing Example:

Let us give you an example, so you can get a clear idea. 

Think of multichannel marketing as an octopus and its head is the brand having tentacles reach out to several different channels to get the message out. All these tentacles are able to reach out but they are not able to communicate with each other. The head of the octopus which is the brand, knows what each tentacle is doing like one of them is handling Facebook and the other one handling google. However, Facebook tentacle doesn’t know what Google tentacle is up to. 

That’s the difference between omnichannel vs multichannel marketing works. Multichannel lacks communication and integration.

Many businesses use multichannel marketing since it is much easier and able to reach out customers to send them information. However, these businesses get stuck into many problems such as:

  • Style inconsistencies between channels.
  • Miscommunication between channels.
  • Frustrating customers since they need to use multiple channels

Brands/businesses may wonder how they can overcome these problems with their marketing strategy because style inconsistencies can affect their brand, miscommunication can affect employees, and frustrated customers can cause them to lose money and retention.

What is Omnichannel Marketing? And What Makes It Better Than Multichannel Marketing?

Omnichannel marketing focuses on delivering a consistent, personalized experience for shoppers across all channels and devices. The guiding principle of omnichannel marketing is that it’s shopper-based, not channel-based. The main goal is to make the shopper experience as easy as possible, and that means consistent engagement no matter where or how a shopper is interacting with you.

Keeping in mind that omnichannel retail is all about interacting and communicating with customers across multiple channels using different digital assets and having a deep awareness of where they are in the customer lifecycle, we are going to explain the main difference of omnichannel vs multichannel to you by telling you what an omnichannel customer experience might look like using a hypothetical example. Plus, you’ll also understand the key differences between omnichannel vs multichannel marketing. 

Buckle up!


Phase 1: Customer Relationship Begins

Alex visited Facebook pages utilizing Facebook shopping where he found and bought a shirt in size 9. 

He got his shirt, completed with an insert promoting other clothing items and accessories not listed on the Facebook page, along with a discount. This insert also included details of the brand’s loyalty program.


Phase 2: The Customer Relationship Deepens

Alex visited the landing page where the discounts were showing and his action of entering the landing page triggered the Facebook pixels and added his Facebook and Instagram accounts on the retargeting ads list. 

While there, Alex included a couple of size 8 socks to his cart, but he left before purchasing. Promptly, Alex is sent a left-before-buying cart email including the socks he didn’t purchase, with a limited-time discount promotion.

In the meantime, Instagram and Facebook retargeting ads promote the socks Alex added to his card but couldn’t proceed due to whatever reason, including all the other items of clothing that he looked at when he visited the online platform. However, the retargeting ads exclude any product sold out in size 9.

After seeing the retargeting ad, Alex clicked on the ad to return to his cart. Now he had purchased the socks with a nice leather belt as well using the discount code. When he got his order confirmation email, there was information included about the brand’s refer-to-a-friend program. 


Phase 3: Personalization Intensified

Now Alex couldn’t see any ads related to socks and leather belts because Facebook and Instagram retargeting ads stopped showing the items that he had already bought. Instead, they now focus on related men clothing items such as ties, cufflinks, coats etc. 

Next, Alex received an email letting him know about a new store which was going to open in Chicago. He also received details of loyalty points that he had earned from his previous purchases and how the loyalty points could be applied as a discount at the new store. So he visited the store with his friend who purchased a pair of pants while taking the benefit of the refer-to-a-friend program – this earned them both a $20 voucher. 


Phase 4: Customers Are Nourished into Advocates

Here follow-up email campaigns began and encouraged Alex to browse new looks on Pinterest. He was also encouraged to follow the brand on social media platforms to earn additional loyalty points and to post photos of his purchases on Instagram using a brand hashtag. 

Alex posted photos of his new look online which the brand reposted on Instagram, strengthening his relationship with the brand.

When the brand reposted Alex’s photos, they made the Instagram post shoppable to promote those particular products to their audience.

This hypothetical example is the representation of how omnichannel marketing works and why it is so important in today’s world. 

The need for omnichannel retail was predicted long ago.

In a Harvard Business Review article from 1995 titled, Do You Want to Keep Your Customers Forever?,  the opening paragraph stated:

“Customers, whether consumers or businesses, do not want more choices. They want exactly what they want—when, where, and how they want it—and technology now makes it possible for companies to give it to them.”


It Begins with Personalization

“Looking back three, four or five decades, personalization was simply the way business was done, at least by the best merchants of that time,” says Shaw.

“When my grandfather, who was an engineer and a mechanic, would walk into his local hardware store, the people who worked there knew who he was and knew the kind of products he bought. They would go so far as to stock certain brands of tools simply because they knew that Hugh Shaw would buy those tools when he came in and that he was dedicated to that brand. They would even, sometimes, drop a purchase off at Grandpa’s house on their way home if that was helpful to him.”


Get Started With Omnichannel Marketing Today

The actual reason behind the shift to Omnichannel from multichannel is customers and their expectations. As customer expectations rise and technology evolves, the shift from multichannel to omnichannel has become even more important for brands. As mentioned earlier that customer wants seamless shopping experience. And that is exactly why we are telling you the key differences between omnichannel vs multichannel marketing so you can easily differentiate the two marketing strategies and identify which is suitable for your business in an era where consumers are demanding content through a plethora of connected devices and touchpoints.

Omnichannel marketing focuses on delivering a consistent, personalized experience for shoppers across all channels and devices. As the demand for omnichannel grows, new technologies emerge that make more sophisticated interactions possible. 

So let’s create greater opportunities and erase the line between in-person and digital interaction and give your customer a seamless, more consistent and personalized experience because if you really want to succeed in your business, you need to shift to an omnichannel marketing strategy today!


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