Omnichannel VS Multichannel Marketing – What's the Difference?

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You may have heard of the term “multichannel” marketing awhile back, and now, before you even get to fully understand what it means, here comes yet another term – “omnichannel” marketing. Yes, it seems that when it comes to this fast-paced digital environment, the only thing faster than the advancement of technology is the fresh terminology used to describe said technological innovations, and how they affect both the marketers and the consumers.
Going back to the case of “multichannel” marketing and “omnichannel” marketing, a lot of people struggle to find the difference between the two. Yet those who are fully involved in this field maintain that there is a key distinction between the two, and that you shouldn’t confuse one with the other. The difference, they say, has an impact on marketers as they look for ways to engage consumers.
So what IS the difference?
These past few years more opportunities to connect and engage consumers were presented to marketers – we have laptops smartphones, smart TVs, and more. We use social media, email, and websites, among others. Consumers may use any of these to learn about products and ultimately purchase them. These options, however, also mean marketers are dealing with a more complex setup. The challenge is providing a seamless experience for consumers through these channels.
The difference boils down to how a company approaches these digital channels. If one, for example focuses on maxing out the performance of every channel, including phone, web, mobile, and physical, they have a multichannel strategy. You can picture them having individual teams working on each channel, each with its own structure and revenue target. This may result to internal competition and while that may be the necessary push for everyone to work hard, it may also generate friction.
An omnichannel strategy, on the other hand, centers on the customer, instead of the customer silos. It also acknowledges that both social media and mobile platforms have allowed customers to either quickly switch between them or use them simultaneously. It understands how customers like to engage with brands across multiple platforms. As such, it handles the challenge this poses by ensuring a consistent experience for each consumer. Omnichannel strategy makes sure that your brand provides a personalized message to your customers.
Right now, a lot of marketers still tend to interchange the terms “multichannel” and “omnichannel”. But experts agree that with the significant difference, people are expected to be able to tell one from the other and therefore use the correct term in the coming years. What everyone is in agreement though, is that no matter which term you use, or which strategy you employ for that matter, what is important is that you are able to understand and deliver what your consumers need.

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