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As a customer, you interact with brands every day. Sometimes, it remains through face-to-face interactions; often, it is digitally through email, social media, and company websites.

So how does a marketer maintain a unified approach in their design, strategy, and customer experience? The answer is omnichannel marketing.

What is omnichannel marketing?

Omnichannel marketing definition

Omnichannel marketing creates a seamless customer experience across all channels. This marketing strategy takes digital interactions, such as social media and e-commerce purchases, and integrates them with interpersonal interactions. These in-person interactions include in-store staff for B2C brands as well as sales and customer success managers for B2B brands. Omnichannel marketing requires all departments to work together.To better understand omnichannel marketing, let’s first consider what the word “channel” means in the marketing world.Marketing channels are the mediums used to transfer information to your customers.Online marketing channels include social media and your e-commerce website. Offline marketing channels include print advertisements, direct mail, and face-to-face interactions that come from event marketing.

Here, you can see which online channels marketers rate as the most effective in comparison to their difficulty level.

Image source: Kissmetrics

Omnichannel marketing takes each of these channels, as well as offline channels, and integrates them into a holistic approach. Every touchpoint a customer has with your company is unified.

In its most simple form, an omnichannel approach comes down to two critical factors:

  1. Making it easy for your customer
  2. Having a unified message across all customer interactions

Looking at the second point, it is important to note that an omnichannel strategy does not just apply to your company’s marketing department.

Think of the word omniscient, meaning “all-knowing.” That’s an accurate way to describe omnichannel marketing – everyone at your company knows everything about the customer journey.

It is a strategy that must be integrated across the entire business. An omnichannel approach is all about being seamless. And, if your marketing, customer service, sales team, and retail staff are not aligned, the process will be far from it!

Omnichannel vs multi channel marketing

Now that you have an understanding of channels, let’s look at the definition of multi channel marketing and how it compares to omnichannel marketing.

What is multi channel marketing?

Multi channel marketing is pretty much what it sounds like – marketing activities that happen across more than one channel. Even if the phrase is new to you, there’s a good chance you are participating in multi channel marketing.

Almost every business, down to the smallest company run by one person, practices multi channel marketing.

For instance, imagine you run a small craft business, selling personalized paper goods from your home. If you have a shop on Etsy (an online presence), promote your store on social media (also online), and participate in art fairs (an offline presence) you are participating in multi channel marketing.

Take a look at this image for the common channels used in multi channel marketing:multi channel marketing

Being on numerous channels is essential. According to Megastore, 73 percent of buyers shop across multiple channels. Those channels continue to grow as well. Thanks to the rise of devices such as the Amazon Echo, you can make purchases with nothing more than your voice.

Knowing consumers don’t interact with a brand on just one channel, omnichannel marketing integrates the customer journey throughout each of these channels.

Take it from Jared Rosenbloom, Director of Media Strategy and Operations at Centro, a company that combines programmatic advertising software with tools for media planning, buying, analysis and reporting.

Jared directs a team of 50 associates, planners, analysts, and campaign managers, including five associate directors and six supervisors, which operate on behalf of 2,000 clients throughout North America..

An expert in the paid performance space, Jared describes the difference between multi channel marketing and omnichannel marketing in the following way: “In multi channel marketing, the goal is to have as many touch points as you can – you want to push your message out as many times as possible to as many people as possible. It’s cheaper because your efforts don’t have to be coordinated. Omnichannel marketing is different: It’s about understanding the path to purchase that an individual takes and how can we speak to them at different points on that path.”

While multi channel marketing connects the customer and their purchase in a straight line between each channel, omnichannel marketing looks less straightforward.

Notice how a customer may experience the same channel more than once on the journey. Omnichannel marketing supports a customer journey that is connected, fluid, and non-linear.

While the customer’s journey may not look direct, your marketing approach still requires a strategic approach with segmentation and personalization.

When a buyer is on the customer journey interacting with your brand, are you making them take a detour?

Let’s take a closer look at that customer journey and how it relates to omnichannel marketing on article part 2.


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