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Omnichannel vs Multichannel Marketing — What's the Difference?

6 minute read

Finding and connecting with your target audience can be complicated in today's digital landscape. There are nearly unlimited options regarding the various channels and platforms consumers use to view content, interact with brands, and make purchases. At the same time, changes to internet privacy protocols are making digital marketing trickier than ever.

With consumers' attention split in so many ways, single-channel marketing is no longer a sensible option. You'll need a multichannel or omnichannel marketing strategy to reach your audience where they're at.

What is multichannel marketing?

Multichannel marketing is the practice of promoting products and services and engaging with customers across multiple marketing channels. With multichannel marketing, businesses may use different strategies and campaigns depending on the channel. Common marketing channels include:

  • Social media
  • Website
  • Email
  • Radio
  • TV
  • Digital ads
  • Paid search
  • Print materials
  • In-store ads

What is omnichannel marketing?

Omnichannel marketing helps businesses promote their products and services across various channels, providing customers with a seamless brand experience with many touchpoints. With omnichannel marketing, businesses implement one strategy or campaign across all channels, creating a more cohesive experience. 

This marketing approach is designed to give customers consistent, regular exposure to your brand, building customer relationships, brand authority, and sales.

Three key differences between omnichannel and multichannel marketing

At first glance, multichannel and omnichannel marketing seem very similar. In fact, some marketers use these terms interchangeably. While both approaches rely on promoting across various marketing channels, the approaches are very different. Here's a list of several differences between omnichannel and multichannel marketing:

1. Irregular vs consistent strategy

Multichannel marketing handles channels separately when it comes to strategy. A business may use several channels in its marketing efforts, but each channel has its own strategy. Without an overarching strategy, campaigns and messaging across different channels can vary significantly. 

On the other hand, omnichannel marketing aims for consistency and a comprehensive strategy to be implemented across all channels. While the content and messaging may still vary slightly, there's an overall strategy tying everything together.

2. Siloed vs integrated distribution

In addition to the irregular strategy, multichannel marketing content distribution tends to be siloed. Different departments may handle different parts of distribution, which leads to a feeling of disconnection across channels. While a customer may encounter promotional material through multiple channels, it doesn't feel cohesive or connected.

By contrast, omnichannel marketing intentionally provides an integrated, holistic experience across all channels and platforms. The omnichannel approach creates a more seamless customer journey.

3. Broad vs personalized experience

With multichannel marketing, the goal is often to reach as many customers as possible through as many channels as possible. Many businesses prioritize quantity over quality with this approach, and results suffer when the net is cast too wide.

Omnichannel marketing isn't focused as much on the volume of customers engaged. Instead, it focuses on the quality of the customer experience. A solid omnichannel strategy builds trust, loyalty, and brand authority among target audiences, leading to increased sales and better retention rates.

Benefits of omnichannel marketing

Although omnichannel marketing requires more research and strategic planning investment, the value outweighs the effort. With a well-prepared omnichannel strategy, you'll see results beyond what's possible with multichannel marketing. The top benefits of omnichannel marketing include:

Cohesive brand strategy and identity

Omnichannel marketing strategies help you build a stronger brand. To create an omnichannel strategy, you'll need to make intentional decisions about your brand's tone and messaging across all channels.

A stronger identity will make your brand more memorable, and a cohesive brand strategy will make it easier to create comprehensive campaigns.

Improved customer experience

Unlike multichannel marketing, omnichannel efforts are focused on the customer, not the channel. An omnichannel approach helps create a seamless customer journey with consistent messaging and convenient touchpoints. Omnichannel marketing meets customers where they are — in both online and offline spaces — and makes it easy to complete purchases without friction.

Increased traffic and sales

When you create a more cohesive brand and improve the customer experience, you'll see results — an increase in traffic, repeat customers, and sales. Brands must meet customers where they're at, and in today's marketplace, that's everywhere. Omnichannel strategies are the way of the future. 

Many best-in-class brands have seen great success when implementing omnichannel marketing strategies. Solutions like Cardlytics Purchase Intelligence™ support omnichannel efforts by helping brands understand exactly where and when customers are making purchases. With these insights, brands can implement precise audience targeting and create promotional offers designed specifically for the customers most likely to convert.

Improve your omnichannel marketing efforts with Cardlytics

Multichannel marketing reaches customers through various channels, but omnichannel marketing takes that concept to the next level. With an omnichannel marketing strategy, you'll build a more cohesive brand, improve customer experience, and see tangible results.

Cardlytics offers unmatched support for your omnichannel efforts. With our access to real customer transaction data, we provide insights that shape actionable marketing strategies — all while protecting consumers' private, personal information. Contact us today to learn more about how Cardlytics can boost your omnichannel strategy.

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