Multichannel vs. Omnichannel: What’s the difference, and which is right for you?

On September 12, 2017

We use the terms 'multichannel' and 'omnichannel' a lot in marketing today, and while the two seem similar, they describe quite distinct approaches to a campaign. It's worth understanding this differences, so we thought we'd take a moment to define each, and compare their benefits.

Multichannel marketing: one wheel with many spokes 

In a multichannel campaign, potential customers are targeted through several distinct channels. This could include direct mailers, email and online advertising, among others. Each of these channels directs the viewer back to the website or shop front. As Aaron Orendorff of Shopify writes:

"The point is simply to offer customers the choice to buy from you on whatever channel they prefer … and then double down on the channels that prove most lucrative."

In a multichannel approach, those options are focused on the same goal, but lead customers toward it separately. All roads lead to Rome, but they don't necessarily merge on the way there.

Omnichannel marketing is less about channels, and more about the customer's own individual path.

Omnichannel marketing: many mouths speaking with the same voice

By contrast, omnichannel marketing is all about merging. What Marketing Interactive describes as a "customer-centric strategy", the omnichannel mindset is less about channels, and more about the customer's own individual path.

It recognises that in their daily lives, people interact with a variety of media and platforms, without placing too much importance on delineating them. Therefore, your brand should follow suit. Dan Newman, president of Broadsuite Media Group, puts it simply:

"Omnichannel marketing refers to a business delivering a consistent and uninterrupted brand experience across all channels and devices a customer uses to interact with them."

What platforms are customers using to interact with your brand?
What platforms are customers using to interact with your brand?

With an omnichannel approach, potential customers should ideally be exposed to your campaign through different platforms and media, and these multiple aspects will combine into a whole that is more effective than its individual parts.

Mike Stocker, Senior Director of Business Development at Marketo, says the best way to ensure this is happening is to try it for yourself. To see if your strategy really is customer-centric, behave like a customer and see how easy it is to engage with your brand as you move between platforms and media. If you have trouble understanding or engaging with the campaign, assume potential customers will, too.

What's the best approach for you?

So which one is better? The answer will vary for each company, and each campaign. Here at The Prospect Shop we recognise that modern marketing is a fluid project. That's why we offer mailing lists for both direct and digital campaigns, and allow you to target audiences on a range of criteria. However you approach your next campaign, we can help. Get in touch to discuss how.

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