Comparing omni-channel and multichannel marketing is like comparing whiskeys.
They look very similar but taste very different. One is a single malt and the other is a run of the mill blended scotch; the former with a great and memorable finish and the latter with little to remember, save possibly a
hangover. At face value both appear to be the same thing; reaching consumers through various
channels. However, the two are distinct from each other and we’re going to take a look at how and why this is so.
What is Omni-Channel Marketing?
Omni-channel marketing is a multichannel sales approach that provides the customer with an
integrated shopping experience. With this approach, whether the customer is shopping online from
a desktop or mobile device, via telephone or in a physical retail outlet, the customer experience will
Multichannel marketing on the other hand is simply using two or more channels to
market to consumers and pays little to no attention to creating a seamless customer experience.
One is like a piece of well-choreographed musical theatre with a story to tell and the other is like putting
together variety show. Which one will you remember? Which one is more likely to move you?
Basically, an omni-channel approach makes things easy for your customer and has a unified message
across all customer interactions. This means that omni-channel marketing doesn’t just apply to the
marketing department. Instead, everyone at every level must know everything about the customer
journey. Therefore, no matter how, when or where the customer interacts with a brand, the
experience will be seamless, easy, unified and deliver an enhanced level of customer service. Omni-
channel marketing is a strategy that must be integrated across the entire business to be effective;
marketing, sales, customer service and retail teams must all be aligned with each other.
The Differences between the Two
Channel vs. Customer
While a multichannel approach goes all out to get communications out through as many channels as
possible, an omni-channel approach aims to interrelate every channel used to engage with
customers in a holistic way; thus ensuring that they have a great experience with the brand through
any and all channels. With an omni-channel approach there is a major focus on building a stronger
relationship between consumer and brand and statistics indicate that brands with omni-channel
strategies in place achieve 91% higher average customer retention rates year-on-year than brands
without such an approach.
Consistency vs. Engagement
Omni-channel approaches by their very nature ensure a high level of consistency in terms of
marketing communications. Brands with such approaches are diligent in ensuring that customers
receive the same experience and messaging across all channels, which ensures a consistent brand
image and message that leads consumers to have a heightened sense of familiarity and a closer
relationship with the brand.
A multichannel approach alone on the other hand will focus on maximum engagement through as
many channels as possible and there can be considerable dissonance in the messaging that is
conveyed through each channel.
Effort vs. Effortless
Omni-channel marketing strives to eliminate or at least reduce effort from the customer experience,
whereas this is of little importance in a purely multichannel approach. Omni-channel approaches will
effectively use data to understand where effort exists in the customer experience and then figure
out how to eliminate that effort in order to foster an effortless buying experience for consumers.
The constant search for an effort towards creating a consistent customer experience and seamless
customer journey results in brands using an omni-channel approach spending time and resources on
the optimization of each channel they use, both in terms of the customer experience and in terms of
measurement of the effectiveness of each channel. This level of optimization is rarely seen in a
purely multichannel approach.
A Final Word
Both these approaches are unique strategies, albeit related. However, it is very clear that omni-
channel approaches work better than multi-channel only approaches in terms of customer
retention, which has a positive impact on revenues. Therefore, it’s time for serious brands to adopt
an omni-channel approach.