Omnichannel and multichannel selling are popular strategies used in the world of ecommerce and online marketing. Both strategies are often mistaken to be the same thing but this is not the case. While both omnichannel and multichannel strategies involve the use of multiple channels, there are considerable differences between them.
Multichannel marketing involves the use of multiple channels to promote a product or service but with the channels not integrated. On the other hand, omnichannel marketing takes it a step further to ensure all channels are well-integrated. Does it all seem complicated?
Well, you’re in the right place. In this article, we will explain in detail what each of these concepts are, the differences between omnichannel and multichannel marketing, and how to choose which strategy to use for your ecommerce business.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Omnichannel is a marketing and sales strategy that synchronizes multiple channels to create a seamless shopping experience. With omnichannel marketing, the focus is on how customers interact with all channels and touchpoints. A good omnichannel strategy ensures that customer data is synced across all channels for maximum convenience.
With omnichannel, customers can move between all channels seamlessly. So the marketing material your customers see on your website, social media page, and brick-and-mortar store should have a unified concept or message. Customers should also be able to purchase products on whatever channel they choose.
The omnichannel approach is all-encompassing and involves ensuring that your customers have a unified experience across all your channels and touchpoints.
This all begins with customer data. Using customer data, a marketer can create seamless experiences across all channels.
Let’s look at an example to help you get a clearer view of how omnichannel marketing works:
With this example, we can see that it involves integrating multiple channels (Instagram, your website, and mobile app) to create a consistent experience.
Here’s how you can build an effective omnichannel marketing strategy:
Your omnichannel marketing strategy all begins with knowing your customer. To create a seamless and consistent experience on all your channels, you need to understand your customer and their journey. Create your buyer personas and analyze their journey through your channels. By creating buyer personas and analyzing their journey, you can identify points of contact and obstacles your customer may be facing.
Segmentation is the key to personalizing experiences and creating unique marketing campaigns. For example, a father’s customer journey will differ from a male student’s journey. Gather customer data using tools like Google Analytics and segment your customers based on certain factors like income, behavior, and location.
The goal of omnichannel marketing is to create a quality experience and not to merely add more channels. You want to create a consistent and seamless customer experience across all and not just one channel. You can start with two or three channels and ensure they are well-integrated before adding more. You can integrate your website with your social media accounts and create personalized experiences for your customers. So, an example of omnichannel marketing could be a customer buying a dress on your site and immediately getting recommendations for similar dresses on your Instagram account.
Remember that omnichannel marketing should focus on creating a consistent and personalized experience. To do this, you want to keep your messaging consistent across all platforms. Your brand voice, tone, and style should remain consistent. Content across channels should also provide value to your customer. Before adding a channel, ensure it will enhance your customer’s experience.
There are various tools and software that can aid your omnichannel marketing efforts and improve your customer experience. You can invest in tools like HubSpot CRM software to track your customer’s journey, manage your leads and communicate with your customers. For your social media accounts, you can invest in tools like Butfer that help you manage your accounts and engage with your followers.
The most important part of your omnichannel marketing is to track your results. Tracking your results will help you find out what works and what doesn’t. It also helps you adjust your campaigns to improve your ROI. Audit your channels and test them. Continue to do what works best to improve your customer’s experience and remove what doesn’t.
Here are some benefits and drawbacks of omnichannel marketing:
Multichannel marketing involves the use of multiple channels to advertise products and communicate with prospects and customers. These channels could include an ecommerce website, a social media platform, TV, email, and more. However, with multichannel marketing, these channels may not be integrated.
So, the content and style of an ad on Instagram may be quite distinct from your email content. This means that a customer will have to interact with each channel separately.
Multichannel selling helps your brand reach more customers and gives them the choice of where to buy your products.
So how does multichannel marketing work? Well, it all starts with finding ways to make your product more available to your customers. This is built on the foundation of in-depth research and product data.
Using research and data, you can develop marketing strategies for various channels to expand brand reach and increase conversions. To create a multichannel strategy, start by finding out who your target customers are. Carry out in-depth research and create a buyer persona.
Next, based on research, select channels where you can reach your target customers. These channels could include social media, emails, mobile apps, PPC ads, retail stores, etc.
Once you’ve identified all relevant channels, you can then create your marketing messaging for each of the channels. Track performance for each of the channels and make adjustments as you progress. There are several multichannel management tools that you can invest in to streamline the process.
Here are a few steps you need to take to create a winning multichannel marketing strategy:
Before investing in various channels, you want to be clear on what your objectives and marketing goals are. Ensure that your multichannel marketing goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound).
If you want to build an effective multichannel marketing campaign and serve your customers, you need to know who they are. You need to identify your customers’ motivations, wants, needs, and interests. You can use user behavior tools and artificial intelligence to get an in-depth understanding of who your customers are.
After understanding what your marketing goals are and who your customers are, you need to choose the best channels to reach them. So for example, if your customers spend most of their time on social media, you may want to invest in two or more social media channels where your customers are most active.
Next, create messaging for each channel independently. The key here is to create consistent messaging across all channels. You may have as many channels with independent messaging but you want to maintain your brand identity across all channels. The tone, style, and voice should remain consistent across all your channels.
With multichannel marketing, the focus is brand awareness and customer engagement. You want to monitor this to know how well you are reaching your customers. You can use customer relationship management (CRM) software to track customer engagement and adjust your marketing campaigns to increase ROI.
Here are some benefits and drawbacks of multichannel marketing:
While omnichannel and multichannel marketing are often used interchangeably, there are significant differences between both.
Omnichannel marketing starts with the customer. It aims at creating a consistent customer experience across all channels and touchpoints.
On the other hand, multichannel marketing focuses on making as many people aware of the brand or product.
In other words, while omnichannel marketing focuses on improving customer experience, multichannel marketing focuses more on expanding customer reach and engagement.
For example, a multichannel approach will focus more on increasing the number of followers, likes, comments, and shares on your social media page while an omnichannel approach will focus more on ensuring customers have a seamless experience moving from your social media page to your website and mobile app.
Multichannel marketing focuses on distributing products across many sales channels. So, the more channels you have, the better you can distribute your products to more customers. For example, selling your product on your website, physical store, social media platform, and mobile app. However, with omnichannel marketing, the focus is on the customer and reaching them where they are through all the available channels. In general, the omnichannel approach covers the entire customer journey.
When it comes to operations, omnichannel marketing involves unifying all your channels while the multichannel marketing approach involves operating each channel separately. With this, omnichannel marketing gives you a more holistic view of your customer data while multichannel marketing provides fragmented customer data from separate channels.
Both omnichannel and multichannel marketing strategies have proven successful. So how do you choose which strategy to adopt?
An omnichannel marketing strategy seems like a more logical option considering that it offers a seamless customer experience. However, it’s not so clear-cut.
The first thing you want to do is consider what your business goals are. If the focus is to create a customer experience that is seamless across all channels, you may want to choose the omnichannel strategy. On the other hand, If you want to attend to specific brand objectives, a multichannel strategy is a great place to start.
Also, your resources play a major role in your decision-making. An omnichannel marketing strategy is more comprehensive and seeks to create personalized customer experiences. This will require more investment which may be difficult for small businesses. So if you’re not ready to invest in a full omnichannel marketing approach, you can kick off with multichannel marketing. So for example, instead of launching a website, creating social media campaigns, and email campaigns all at the same time, you can focus on one channel and update over time.
Starbucks is one brand that uses the omnichannel marketing approach excellently. Using its app, Starbucks makes the shopping experience very convenient for its customers. How do they do it? Well, customers get a free rewards card which they can use to purchase coffee in-store and through their app. Customers can load the card with credits and use it to shop. For example, if a customer runs out of credit while standing in the store, they can reload their rewards card through the app and use it to shop immediately. All channels are well-integrated, so updates made through any channel are updated on all channels.
On the app, customers can view menu items and receive promotions and updates.
IKEA is a brand famous for selling furniture and home decoration. IKEA effectively uses an omnichannel marketing strategy to sell its products both offline and online. So, you can buy a product in-store or on their website, pay online, and receive your items at pickup points or directly at home. You can also order additional services like Assembly.
Apple uses both multichannel and omnichannel marketing strategies excellently. With multichannel marketing, Apple can focus on all its products.
Apple operates a physical store (iStore) which they use to advertise products, educate them on Apple products, and much more, complementing their ecommerce store. Customers can visit the iStore and go through products without feeling pressured to buy one.
Also, Apple provides additional services like the Apple TV+ streaming platform and Apple Music, giving them the flexibility to use various channels to promote and sell a wide range of products.
Apple uses iCloud to enable interconnectivity between its products. So with iCloud, you can easily transfer data from one Apple product to another, moving from just multichannel to omnichannel.
With the Nike Plus program, Nike implements omnichannel marketing. With the program, customers can buy products at unique prices and get personalized offers. Customers can also download apps like Workout, Run, and Discover. All digital channels gather customer data to create more personalized experiences.
Amazon is a leading ecommerce platform and online marketplace with millions of businesses selling on the platform. Starting as a bookstore, Amazon has evolved to not only become one of the largest online marketplaces but also reach sectors like electronics, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and so on. Amazon has attained this success by constantly putting the customer first.
The company uses omnichannel marketing effectively to create seamless consumer experiences.
Customers can easily shop using Alexa, add products to their cart and get personalized recommendations for future purchases. Shopping carts are well-synced across all channels including their mobile app and website which you can access on various devices.
This consistent and seamless customer experience helps the customer save time and provides exceptional customer service.
Netflix allows its users to watch a wide range of movies across three major devices: phones, tablets, and TVs.
Using omnichannel, Netflix integrates customer experience across all devices. This means that you can watch a movie on your phone and continue watching the same movie on your television or tablet when you log in to your account. You can access every movie you watch in the “Continue Watching” list on the app.
Omnichannel marketing focuses on the customer and seeks to create a consistent, personalized, and seamless shopping experience for them. On the other hand, multichannel marketing focuses on putting your product in front of as many customers as possible. You can use both strategies and in fact, they are intertwined. Brands will typically evolve from multichannel marketing to omnichannel marketing.
Still yet to decide if omnichannel or multichannel marketing is best for your business? You can get free professional consultation by contacting ecommerce experts on ePlaybooks