Digital Signage Blog

What’s the Difference Between Omnichannel and Multichannel Marketing?

consumer_journey_omnichannel_multichannel_marketingGiven the growing importance of digital advertising, as well as the rise of data mining and viewer customisation, marketing to the same individual across multiple touch points is a must for today's businesses. While most tech-savvy retailers have embraced some form of multichannel marketing, few are taking full advantage of the specific attributes of each channel and the interplay between them.

Often referred to as “omnichannel” marketing, the creation of a consistent, interdependent customer experience across multiple channels is what most businesses should strive to achieve. The differences between multi- and omnichannel marketing are subtle, and the two strategies often overlap. But understanding their benefits is crucial for businesses looking to stand out in an economy in which customers are constantly bombarded with ads.

Here are a few of the most important purposes and tactics of multichannel and omnichannel marketing, as well as examples of companies successfully reaching customers through a variety of media.

Multichannel Marketing Goals and Purposes

In short, the purpose of multichannel marketing is to reach customers through a variety of means, both digital and physical: in-store advertisements, websites, fliers, email newsletters, mobile apps and more. Most customers require multiple touch points with a brand before they'll consider making a purchase—and the more avenues you use to reach them, the better.

Done properly, multichannel marketing also leverages the unique attributes of each type of communication—a particularly important step for the digital channels today. For instance, websites accessed via laptops, tablets and other large-screen formats might be more content-rich and allow for more exploration of a brand’s content and offerings, while simpler, uncluttered mobile sites may allow for swiping, pinch-zooming and other touchscreen-enabled features.

Even when leveraging all of these unique features, retailers often fail to create a consistent experience throughout multiple channels; this is where omnichannel marketing comes into play. Instead of displaying different ads in their newsletters, on their websites and in their stores, for instance, retailers with effective omnichannel strategies will send identical or complementary messages across each channel. This approach allows for more consistent branding and personalised communication with each customer.

Omnichannel Tactics: Building Upon a Solid Multichannel Strategy

The overarching goal of both multichannel and omnichannel marketing is to create a better customer experience that leads to greater brand loyalty and a higher likelihood of purchases. A solid multichannel strategy can go a long way in accomplishing this goal. An omnichannel approach will build upon that strategy to create a more cohesive, continuous experience for the average customer, which is someone who frequently uses and views multiple forms of media digitally and in person.

Solid, foundational multichannel tactics include:

  • The use of media channels most appropriate to the target demographic
  • Leveraging the unique attributes of different digital and print advertisements
  • Tracking sales and leads through surveys and visitor statistics
  • Strategic placement of both informative content and persuasive advertisements
  • Understanding the purpose and utility of each channel—some may lead directly to purchases, while others will persuade customers to visit other channels before they buy

Retailers can build upon these tactics with the following omnichannel strategies to better leverage the channels they've created and provide a more consistent customer experience:

  • Create continuity between standard and mobile websites. For example, use a log-in system that saves viewers' carts and recently viewed items, so they can view those same items on their phones when they visit your stores in person.
  • Consistently advertise the same sales and specials at the same time in newsletters, on websites and in stores. Customers may be more likely to make a purchase if they've seen one ad several times, rather than several different ads for different products or services.
  • Use consistent phrasing, or even identical copy, when communicating the attributes of your brand.
  • Allow for online ordering and in-store pickup via multiple digital channels, and use similar interfaces for each one. You'll remove a great deal of learning and decision-making from the purchasing process, making it more likely for your existing customers to keep buying.

In general, the purpose of these omnichannel tactics is to make it seem as if one brand or even one person is communicating and working with each customer as an individual. Compared to a more disparate and uncoordinated multichannel approach, this strategy will give current and future customers a personalised connection with your brand.

Examples of Omnichannel and Multichannel Success

Fully fledged omnichannel strategies are still relatively rare among today's retailers, but here are a few companies effectively creating unique customer experiences across multiple channels:

  • Oasis: A UK-based fashion retailer, Oasis blends its online store, physical stores and mobile app into a continuous customer experience. Online shoppers can use the store's “Seek and Send” service to find out-of-stock items in physical stores near them, and returns for online purchases can be completed at more than 5,500 drop-off locations.
  • Waterstones: In response to the waning popularity of physical books, Waterstones has expanded to eBooks, and the UK-based book retailer now allows in-store customers to download content directly onto their mobile devices through free Wi-Fi. This service provides customers the tactile experience of browsing and flipping through hard copies when they visit the store, as well as the expertise of knowledgeable staff, without having to spend the extra money and storage space on hardbound books. Overall, visitors get the best of the digital and physical retail experiences.

Creating consistent customer communications through multichannel and omnichannel marketing strategies is critical in today's ad-saturated market. To efficiently create and manage digital assets and marketing content for all of your channels, you need an optimised marketing strategy that can support your needs. Download our free eBook, “7 Ways to Optimise Your Multichannel Marketing Strategy,” to get started.


Topics: Digital Advertising, Digital asset management, Omnichannel Marketing, Multichannel Marketing