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What is Omnichannel Marketing?

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

Omnichannel Definition: 

Omnichannel is a cross-channel content strategy used to improve the customer experience and drive better relationships across all possible channels and touchpoints. This includes traditional and digital channels, point-of-sale, and physical and online experiences.

Omnichannel Marketing Definition: 

Omnichannel refers to the multichannel sales approach that provides the customer with an integrated shopping experience. Each channel works together to create a unified 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.

Examples of omnichannel marketing include: 

  • A customer receiving a SMS message about a sale or promotion while shopping in-store
  • A customer receiving a cart abandonment email
  • A customer receiving retargeting ads for abandon cart products

Multichannel vs. Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel and multichannel 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 want to help draw a distinction between the two. At their core, there does not appear to be much of a difference. Take their definitions for instance:

  • Multichannel 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 refers to the multichannel 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 lead companies down two distinctly different paths.

3 Important Differences Between Multichannel & Omnichannel Marketing

Multi- and omnichannel approaches differ in that omnichannel marketing really puts the customer at the core to ensure a completely consistent, unified experience at every touch point as opposed to simply enabling that touch point. You can think of it this way, too: multichannel means many, omnichannel means all (the customer is literally at the center).

To better explain the uniqueness of multichannel and omnichannel marketing strategies, we can hone in on four key differences.

1. Channel vs. Customer

The multichannel approach merely aims to get the word out via the maximum possible number of channels. Multichannel marketing is about casting the widest net to get the most customer engagements; the more the merrier. Companies utilizing the multichannel 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 Tahzoois, in “understanding how to eliminate effort from the customer experience”.

Tramp 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 multichannel 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.

Benefits of Omnichannel Marketing

There are no cons to multi-channel or omnichannel marketing, per se. The perception across the industry is generally that “omnichannel” is that north star — the top of the mountain. While having and enabling multiple channels certainly isn’t bad, connecting them together should be the goal.

A successful omnichannel marketing strategy can help your organization realize the following benefits:

1. Boost Customer Loyalty

Customers purchase from the brands they value and trust. Omnichannel marketing efforts provide a consistent experience across all platforms and offer a personalized experience for each audience member. This sort of approach improves the overall customer experience and leads to increased customer loyalty and retention. 

2. Improve Brand Recall

Omnichannel marketing’s emphasis on cross-channel consistency ensures your customers will see your brand in the same way across platforms and devices. This consistency helps strengthen brand recall for your customers. A strong sense of brand recall will increase the likelihood of purchase across your customer base. 

3. Realize Increases in Revenue

Omnichannel strategies improve customer loyalty, strengthen brand recall, and promote repeat purchases. These efforts help brands retain customers and attract new customers through content personalization and word-of-mouth marketing. With more customers, comes more business and, of course, more revenue.

6 Steps to Developing a Successful Omnichannel Marketing Strategy

The growing number of available marketing channels has made the customer journey increasingly intricate. Follow these steps to easily create an omnichannel marketing strategy to satisfy customers at all touchpoints: 

1. Think Consumer-First

A major difference that separates omnichannel and multichannel marketing is the fact that omnichannel prioritizes the customer. The first step to omnichannel success lays in evaluating the customer journey. 

Take a look at every touchpoint a buyer comes across before becoming your customer. Do these touchpoints provide a consistent customer experience? If not, you’ll need to gather the necessary departments to make this change. Each department should be aligned with a customer-first focus and work to facilitate engaging customer experiences.

2. Know Your Customers

It is highly important that marketing teams understand their customers. This means developing buyer personas, identifying target audiences, and understanding their wants, needs, behaviors, demographics, preferences, and goals.

From there, you’ll want to leverage available first-, second-, and third-party data to analyze and identify patterns in buyer preferences. It will be helpful to use the right tools to gather, analyze, and store this data. Once you understand who your customers are, it becomes exceedingly easier to deliver appropriate marketing. 

3. Use the Right MarTech

Once you’ve identified your customers, you must identify the tools and solutions you will use to connect with them. Choosing the tools that fit within your tech stack can be complicated, however, we recommend looking into the following solutions to start:  

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
  • Fully Integrated Customer Engagement Platform
  • Marketing Automation Tools
  • Social Media Management Solutions
  • Data Analytics Tools

4. Segment Your Users

It is important to segment your audience based on the data points and audience characteristics that are most important to your business goals. You can develop segments based on buyer personas, paths to purchase, subscription status, and more. Proper segmentation helps e-commerce companies effectively tackle marketing and re-marketing efforts. 

5. Personalize Across All Channels

Personalization is the most crucial element of omnichannel marketing. This is what makes your customers feel appreciated. Successful personalization requires you to establish a 1:1 connection with each member of your target audience. With the right data points, automation and analysis tools, your organization will be able to deliver individualized content to recipients. This will improve the customer experience, drive revenue, increase brand loyalty, and create consistency across channels. 

6. Track Your Success with the Right Metrics

Tracking the right metrics using the right tools allows you to report accurate data and derive actionable insights to enhance your omnichannel approach. By capturing the right metrics, you can better report on the successes and failures of your omnichannel strategy and use those data points to revise your strategy and enhance ROI.

➤ Learn more about executing omnichannel strategies that convert, grow, and retain your customer base.

Omnichannel in Action: City Beach’s Story

Mike Doyle and Mike Cheng at City Beach were looking to improve omnichannel efforts and increase customer lifetime value. Check out their story, including how they were able to automate completely personalized campaigns, populate unique emails for each individual contact in their email database, and drive more repeat purchases:

Final Thoughts

Using omnichannel marketing, you will be better able to provide valued users with a unified experience. These efforts not only lead to a seamless user experience, but they also improved customer loyalty, increased sales, and greater brand awareness. Marketers must make the shift to focus on omnichannel efforts to increase customer retention and in turn, revenue.

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