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Omnichannel versus Multichannel


Omnichannel means meeting your customer where they are when they want to hear from you and it is seamless

by Shannan Hearne, Summit Technologies Marketing Specialist


Don’t confuse omnichannel marketing with multichannel marketing. They are not synonymous.


In a multichannel environment, customers can connect with your brand in multiple ways, but those channels aren't necessarily providing a cohesive experience. With a truly omnichannel approach, the customer or user can move between different channels – mobile app, desktop website, in-store, on the phone – and enjoy a truly cohesive experience. And you benefit with a complete 360 degree view of your customer and the ability to deliver beyond the customers’ expectations.


Research shows that brands with a strong omnichannel strategy retain, on average, 89% of customers, in comparison to 33%t of companies with a weak or nonexistent omnichannel approach.


You can leverage Salesforce to give customers the seamless experience they’ve come to expect from the brands they trust. If your current structure needs support from design and technology experts with Salesforce experience, Summit Technologies LLC can help.


NOTE: Salesforce Service Cloud offers Omni-Channel. Omni-Channel is a flexible, customizable feature, and you can configure it declaratively—that is, without writing code. Use Omni-Channel to manage the priority of work items, which makes it a cinch to route important work items to agents quickly. Manage your agents’ capacity to take on work items so that they’re given only the number of assignments that they can handle. You can also define which agents can work on different types of assignments. For example, you can create one group of agents to respond to leads and sales inquiries, and another group that helps customers with support questions.


Omni-Channel is a service department specific tool but Salesforce has developed tools farther reaching than just in service mode and made omnichannel versus multichannel a way to do business.


Broadly, omnichannel means a user engagement solution which provides end-to-end accessibility to customers across channels, platforms and devices.


Modern-day businesses are aware that they can no longer rely on a single marketing channel to reach out to their customers. With each marketing channel presenting a unique set of challenges and opportunities, there exists a pressing requirement to combine them for maximum impact. And from this requirement, evolved multichannel and omnichannel marketing strategies.


Multichannel marketing involves the segmentation of direct and indirect customer interactions. Traditionally, multichannel media channels were physical stores and websites. In the last decade, it has grown to include email, social media platforms, phone or chat, etc. And despite being a part of the same business organization, these channels are all isolated from each other. This lack of integration results in siloed information. Even though you might see it as a challenge, one of the many goals of multichannel marketing is to ensure the disparity in communication between the online and offline segments provides improved accessibility to and for customers.


Omnichannel is a communication strategy that combines all business communications over a single platform across the various marketing channels. It consolidates operations-related information and customer experiences over the centralized location to maintain uniformity. As a result, every communication channel has access to what the other is doing. Customers can anticipate seamless and continued interactions at every touchpoint. The consistency provided by a holistic and inter-connected communications framework also opens up room for service personalization.


The multichannel approach focuses on maximizing reach by tapping into all communication channels. The same message is passed through two or more channels, with email and social media being the most popular picks. Multichannel marketing taps into only limited communication media and they operate in a vacuum.


In contrast, omnichannel marketing adopts a multidisciplinary approach by connecting all the communication channels with each other and then with the customers. Plus, it attempts to incorporate as many communication channels as possible. An omnichannel strategy would employ anything from calls to push notifications, with each element complementing the entire customer journey.


Since omnichannel marketing is integrated and focuses on customer welfare, all communication channels work towards collecting data and using it to understand their customers better. As a result, your business gains insights into their requirements and expectations through inputs on their pain points, preferences, lifestyle, demographics, etc. In fact, this data can be granular to the point that you can identify factors like why certain individuals abandon your cart or app! Equipped with this data, you can hyper-personalize everything, from your products and services to marketing strategy to cater to your client’s taste. Like a customer preference center on steroids, omnichannel marketing recognizes the wants and needs of your customer and utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve their experiences with every touchpoint.


While the omnichannel setting is quite complex, multichannel marketing mostly relies on call to action (CTA) links and buttons to encourage users to take action. However, such messages are often generic, with limited or almost no personalization. Generic interactions offer the least impactful CX and provide your company with the least increased understanding of the customers’ needs.


Customer engagement is a powerful metric that defines the efficacy of any marketing strategy.


Omnichannel marketing observes a marginally higher engagement and conversion rate owing to several factors ranging from improved customer journey to personalization. It is a proven fact that offering value to your customers at every touchpoint will make them more willing to interact with your brand and more trustful of the information they provide.


If you are looking for an easier way to reach out to your customers and engage them, then multichannel marketing would be more useful to meet the requirement. You would primarily have to identify a few effective marketing channels, understand their best practices, and execute the plan. With this relatively low-effort strategy, you could overlook minor considerations.


But when a business commits to adopting the true omnichannel route, they have to stick to it until the final execution! Half hearted efforts will only result in system failure and waste of time, money, and resources. Not to mention that integrating all marketing channels can be a Herculean task, which will proportionally increase depending upon business complexities. Omnichannel will require the active participation of business leaders and the C-suite to foster a shared vision and implement it throughout the organization. The leaders bear the primary responsibility of initiating change and sustaining it through constant encouragement. The omnichannel charge has to be led in the organization from the top down to achieve success.


Given that omnichannel marketing offers a seamless customer experience, business leaders tend to be more inclined to make it a part of their marketing strategy. However, they need to be prepared to face the challenges that come with it. The corresponding cost and complexity are the primary roadblocks in the omnichannel path. At the same time, becoming future-ready through omnichannel marketing automation is too attractive of an opportunity to pass up. Certainly the last two years have taught us all that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


While multichannel marketing may seem like an attractive alternate solution, it may be short-term as customer expectations and behaviors are reshaping how businesses operate. It is only a matter of time until businesses are pushed to adopt omnichannel marketing or be pushed aside by the competitors who do adopt.


Clearly the key differences between omnichannel vs. multichannel marketing are quantifiable. You can make an educated comparison and settle on what works for your business.


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