Omnichannel vs Multichannel Marketing Mystery Solved

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When it comes to audience outreach, two terms that often come up are omnichannel vs. multichannel marketing. They’re used interchangeably to reference targeting customers on multiple platforms. However, these terms are actually two very different concepts that focus on different marketing strategies.

Omnichannel marketing is customer-focused, whereas multichannel marketing is more channel-focused. The strategy you use depends on your marketing goals.

A big part of running a successful ecommerce business depends on your ability to get your products in front of as many people as possible. The more people who see your products across different platforms, the better your chances of converting them. That’s why knowing the difference between omnichannel and multichannel marketing, and when to use each one, is so important.

To help prep for your next marketing campaign, let’s look at what each strategy means and how to use them to meet your goals.

The difference between omnichannel vs. multichannel marketing

The confusion around omnichannel vs. multichannel marketing comes from the fact that they both use more than one channel of communication to attract potential customers. Both strategies use channels like social media, emails, and mobile messaging to share marketing campaigns.

These strategies’ ability to reach people where they spend several hours a day relates to the fact that people are spending more time online. Currently, adults spend over 11 hours a day interacting with media like apps and surfing the web. This growing need to be connected is where omnichannel and multichannel marketing come in.

For example, a customer’s shopping experience might start on Instagram when they see an influencer using your product. The potential customer then sees an ad online for your product and then gets an email from you with a discount code. This approach is a little like a courtesy follow-up someone gets after an appointment. You check in to remind people that you exist, which in turn shows that you care about their needs and preferences.

This approach also shows that you’re responsive to any questions your audience has, since targeting them on more than one channel reminds them of the benefits and value you offer. Your audience is bombarded with messages online all day, so it’s important to follow up on multiple channels. Targeting people where they spend time online also improves your chances of converting them — instead of relying on only one touchpoint to get people to buy.

Omnichannel and multichannel marketing differ based on how they let you speak to potential customers.

omnichannel and multichannel marketing


Omnichannel marketing puts the focus on the customer experience by integrating interactions that make the experience seamless and customer-friendly. For example, let’s say a customer browses the product pages on your website and adds a few items to their cart. They decide not to check out and leave your website. An omnichannel approach means you’d send the customer an email reminder with a link to their abandoned cart. When they click on the link, all their products are there; all they have to do is check out. If they don’t check out, you can send them a follow-up Rich Media Message (RMM) that includes a discount code and links to their abandoned cart.

Find out more about omnichannel messaging: Optichannel Marketing: The Only Way to Cope With Changing Customer Psychology

The only thing the customer has to do is click or tap a few buttons, and their shopping is done. The purchase experience is simplified and requires very little effort from customers. This approach helps you increase conversion rates because you remove bottlenecks — like customers having to find their products again or manually enter their mailing address — that prevent customers from buying.

omnichannel and multichannel marketing

[Source] Example of a reminder email sent to customers with items in their cart. It encourages re-engagement.

Multichannel marketing is a little different. With this strategy, your campaigns are designed based on where customers spend time online and in real life. For example, a person might see:

  • Your display ads on websites they visit a lot
  • Sponsored posts on social media
  • Promotional emails in their inbox
  • Updates on your website

The thinking is that regardless of where customers are, they see one of your messages.

omnichannel and multichannel marketing

[Source] Facebook ad for an Anti Theft backpack

omnichannel and multichannel marketing

Pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google for Anti Theft backpacks

Multichannel marketing helps you get your message in front of a lot of people, so it’s best suited for campaigns where your main goal is to generate lots of brand awareness and traffic back to your website. The content shared is less personalized, and the messages you share might differ depending on the channels you use.

The marketing strategy you use depends on your campaign goals. If you’re running a seasonal campaign that requires leads to take action quickly, an omnichannel approach is the best, since it moves leads forward step-by-step to a purchase. A multichannel approach works well if you’re trying to get brand awareness and increase traffic to your store.

Omnichannel marketing personalizes the customer experience

Every year, more customers say they want personalized marketing. Whether it’s an email or SMS campaign, customers want to buy from brands they trust and that offer a personalized shopping experience. That’s why your campaigns have to go beyond basic personalization — like including customer names in an email campaign — because this doesn’t encourage engagement or impact conversion.

With personalization, what matters to customers is how relevant the content they receive is. Customers are willing to hand over more data to get this. Research by Salesforce found that 57% of customers are willing to hand over personal information in exchange for more personalized and relevant information. For example, use your customer data to offer personalized recommendations based on what customers have bought in the past. This is why 52% of customers share personal information — to improve their shopping experience.

To increase conversions, use omnichannel marketing to offer customers relevant information based on their actions. This way, you’ll focus your marketing campaigns on your audience’s immediate needs. Let’s look at an example of how this works using the abandoned cart example again.

A customer adds products to their cart and leaves your site. You want them to return and make a purchase. An omnichannel conversion strategy might include:

Combined, these messages remind customers of why they chose certain products in the first place and makes it easy for them to follow through and buy something.

Each of the messages you send as part of your omnichannel campaign should include a call-to-action (CTA) that redirects customers to their abandoned cart when they click.

Keep in mind that a clear CTA, combined with a personalized message, makes it easier for you to guide customers through the buying journey, so they become repeat customers.

Multichannel marketing targets a wider audience

Your audience spends a lot of time engaging in several different channels. With multichannel marketing, campaigns aren’t meant to be as personal and hyper-relevant. They’re meant to attract as much attention as possible from a wide audience to generate more traffic to your website. If increased site traffic is your main campaign goal, use this opportunity to turn new visitors to your site into new leads. This way, you can nurture them over time with regular emails and text messages, so they learn more about you and your products.

Find out more about SMS marketing: Increase Conversions with SMS Marketing

It’s one thing to attract a lot of traffic to your site, but you need a plan for what you’ll do with all the attention once it starts coming in. Use a digital tool like a lead magnet to capture these new leads and add them to your contact list. Your lead magnet can be a popup message on your website or a lead form on a landing page. The point is to ask people to share their email address or phone number, so you have a way to repeat the value you offer and get leads to eventually convert and buy.

If you launch a new product line, and the priority is to get lots of exposure for it, run multiple campaigns on different channels. Your multichannel strategy could include:

  • Sponsored ads on all your social media platforms that introduce the new products
  • Generic email campaigns sent to all subscribers
  • SMS promotions sent to all leads
  • Promotional posters in your brick-and-mortar stores
  • Blog posts and press releases introducing the new product launch

For these messages, use a CTA like ‘Learn More’ to imply there’s more information on your website to review, and an opportunity to receive product updates and buy something.

With multichannel marketing, the immediate goal might not be to convert customers but to focus on lead generation, so you can nurture leads over time and build a reputation as a retailer with quality products. Use your nurture campaign to share product updates, customer testimonials, and more to continue to show leads why your products are right for them.

Optimize your omnichannel and multichannel marketing campaigns

The marketing approach you choose to use depends on what you want your campaigns to achieve. If you’re running promotional campaigns to drive sales, use omnichannel marketing since it personalizes and streamlines the customer experience and boosts conversions.

If you want brand exposure to reach as many people as possible with less emphasis on immediate conversion — perhaps you want them to join your email list or sign up for a product trial — multichannel marketing helps you get your brand in front of as many people as possible.

Each of these strategies gives you unique ways to attract customers and move them through your marketing funnel. Use multichannel marketing for people at the top of the funnel who are still researching products and considering their options. Use omnichannel marketing for people who are closer to the bottom of the funnel and have made the decision to buy something.

Whether you use them separately or run campaigns at the same time, omnichannel and multichannel marketing will help you reach your desired goals.

Find out how VoiceSage can help you optimize your marketing campaigns: Book a demo today

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Published on: 6th June 2019

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