Is Omnichannel and Multichannel Marketing Really Different?

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Omnichannel marketing & multichannel marketing are separate and prominent strategies, despite both applying the use of multiple channels to reach potential customers and current customers.

Back in 2015 – 84 percent of companies have made multichannel marketing a key focus in their marketing strategy and the number was expected to rise. In fact, Multichannel customers spend 3-4 times more than single-channel customers.

Businesses increased sales by 74% with a multichannel strategy, while 64% increased consumer loyalty/acquisition.

Marketers are being compelled to review true differences when it comes to multichannel & omnichannel marketing.

As the path to purchase for both is quite random on various devices and channels, ranging from desktop to smartphones, e-commerce sites to smartphone apps, even including brick and mortar stores.

Multichannel vs. Omnichannel: Important Key Differences

With multichannel marketing, each channel is distinct and independent from the others, working autonomously with its own goals and method. These channels include social, mobile, physical location and direct mail.

However, integration in this multichannel approach is missing, and it propels a convoluted and impersonal experience that is likely to frustrate shoppers.

Omnichannel marketing focuses on delivering a consistent, personalized experience for shoppers across all channels and devices. The guiding principle of omnichannel marketing is that it’s shopper-based, not channel-based.

The main goal is to make the shopper experience as easy as possible, and that means consistent engagement no matter where or how a shopper is interacting with you.

Engagement vs. Consistency

Being available via a customer’s chosen channel directly aligns your brand with higher levels of engagement and conversions.

Consistency is further related to expectations, trust and even word of mouth!

The second key difference worth noting is the capacity for Omnichannel’s focus on the customer experience and it’s consistency.

Businesses are committed to ensuring that the experience and messaging through each channel is the same and consistent.

This consistency ensures an augmented sense of familiarity and harnesses a relationship with the brand.

In relation to this, it is necessary for marketers applying omnichannel marketing strategy, to commit all internal departments to be in-tune with the messaging.

Customer vs. Channel

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.

The multichannel approach merely aims to get the word out via the maximum possible number of channels.

Alternately, the omnichannel approach interconnects the distinct channels, allowing the business to engage with customers as one encompassing whole, allowing them to enjoy a great overarching experience with the brand on each platform and channel.

The focus is placed primarily on crafting a sturdier relationship between the brand and the consumer.

Companies with omnichannel customer experience strategies that are clearly determined often acquire a 91% higher year after year augmentation in rates related to customer retention, compared to those companies that have no such programs stipulated.

Channel Optimization

We have established that many clients, and companies in the wider marketplace, leverage multichannel marketing efforts.

Moreover, a growing number of clients and companies have commenced working across channels with increasing productivity, to encourage effective and measurable commerce that works autonomously outside of the channels.

That sense of working more efficiently, and optimizing the use of each channel, caters to the omnichannel approach.

Effortless And Seamless

“…eliminate effort from the customer experience”

said Misia Tramp, Executive Vice President of Insights and Innovation, Tahzoo, LLC.

She further mentioned that a more of a multichannel approach is,

“considered many channels available to connect with consumers today…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.

Type of Business that utilize Multichannel

Companies in industries such as fashion, travel, retail and more, often use various channels to engage their customers.

Varying businesses of course favour varying channels, yet nearly every business is capable of using the internet as a chief channel for commerce.

These businesses have also commenced integration of other technologies such as mobile commerce as well.

Below are a few examples of multichannel marketing:

  • Garnet Hill, a home décor retailer has a mobile site easily as functional as its website and has integrated it with its catalog, so any catalog item can easily be looked up on the mobile site by item number.
  • JC Penney was the first department store to sell online. Today, it also displays its catalog through Facebook, allowing Facebook fans to make purchases without ever leaving the social media website. Also on Facebook is U.K. fashion retailer ASOS, where users can browse, buy, comment on, and share discoveries with their friends.
  • Pac-Sun has integrated online, mobile, and in-store terminals to provide a seamless interaction between customer and sales, as well as an iPhone app that can scan QR codes from store displays, print magazines, and other locations, and use that information to build custom outfits.
  • Eddie Bauer has long offered “brick, flip, and click”—using retail stores, catalogs, and a website.
  • Fairmont Hotels allows customers to not only make reservations from their mobile phones but also connects them with local attractions and themes around their destination.

How To Choose Between Multichannel or Omnichannel?

Theoretically, omnichannel might appeal to you as the primary and most worthwhile choice.

And it is known to create a more seamless shopping experience, which is noteworthy as a long-term goal. Yet the answer might be more complex than that.

It will consume a lot of resources to make your retail business omnichannel, and a half-finished product cannot be tolerated as non-functioning omnichannel technology is essentially the same as having no omnichannel technology in place.

Of course, this can be adjusted if you discover how it can be built in a modular manner.

Though it may be the theoretical go-to answer, some business will be able to avoid complications by commencing first with a multichannel experience prior to binding them all together in order to create an omnichannel experience.


Wrapping it up! Multichannel and omnichannel marketing are two unique strategies that both aim to reach consumers and potential consumers by leveraging multiple channels.

Marketers must make the shift to focus on omnichannel efforts in order to increase customer retention and in turn, revenue.

Credit to: Criteo, Marketing Schools and Lisa Manthei from Emarsys and you can follow them @Twitter.

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