Multichannel vs. Omnichannel Marketing and Keeping up with a Customer Journey

What is multichannel marketing? Broadly defined as interacting with customers via multiple direct and indirect channels in order to sell them goods and services, multichannel marketing is about engaging with customers in their channel of choice.

Multichannel marketing makes all channels available to the consumer (in-store, web, mobile, social, phone) for the purposes of engaging with a brand. Marketers have traditionally pursued a multichannel marketing approach for several reasons:

  1. It’s cost-effective: If an organization knows that a customer prefers to engage on the mobile app, it makes sense to devote resources to market to that customer on that channel and, conversely, to avoid spending marketing dollars on a channel the customer avoids.
  2. It’s personalized (to an extent….): A multichannel marketing approach that engages with a customer on their channel of choice checks off the box for high-level personalization because it’s not technically a “one size fits all” approach. The brand is making a concerted effort to take the customer’s personal preferences into account. We’ll contrast this with more advanced personalization techniques later in the blog.
  3. It expands brand awareness: A CPG company that relies solely on its retail partners or in-store promotions to expose customers and prospects to the product closes off a slew of opportunities to engage with customers via digital channels.
  4. It humanizes a brand: A multichannel marketing approach provides opportunity for a brand to solidify its message and craft a narrative about its corporate values. With a presence on social channels, for example, a brand can more easily tout its sustainability programs or eco-friendly initiatives.

Multichannel Marketing Requirements

To achieve the above outcomes, the most important shared requirement is that a marketer know something about the customer. More specifically, it requires knowing a customer’s channel preferences and frequency, purchases and behaviors – at a starting point. If, for example, a customer visits the (fictional!) Wellesley Outfitters website and browses the landing page for mountain bikes, it behooves Wellesley Outfitters to know not only that the customer prefers to shop online to be ready with content when the customer appears, but also to know the customer’s transaction history and preferences. Presenting the right content (color, size, brand, etc.) or offer (free tune-up, accessory discount, local trail maps) depends on having a single customer view, which is the key to providing each interaction with relevance and context.

A customer data platform (CDP) facilitates a multichannel marketing strategy by ingesting data from all sources, retaining full detail of all ingested data, storing ingested data indefinitely, converting the data into unified customer profiles and making those profiles available to all external systems. Multichannel marketers cite a single customer view, improved predictive modeling and recommendations, and improved message selection and personalization as among the core CDP benefits.

Multichannel Marketing Limitations

The need for a single customer view to engage with today’s always-on, connected consumer across an omnichannel journey highlights one limitation of multichannel marketing; the purpose of developing a single customer view is to understand how a customer interacts with a brand across all channels, not on a channel-by-channel basis. Customer journeys are dynamic, and becoming more digitally focused with customers engaging in multiple channels, on multiple devices. The key limitation to multichannel marketing is that it cannot match the dynamic nature of today’s customer journeys; it knee-caps itself, in other words, by focusing on a one channel/one customer approach.

Consider the customer browsing mountain bikes at Wellesley Outfitters. The customer’s experience is enhanced when the company presents content or offers that are relevant to the customer’s journey, which will often extend beyond that one channel. But in a multichannel marketing approach, despite all the channels being available to the customer, the channels themselves are not integrated. If the mountain biker leaves the website but then goes to the mobile app, with a multichannel marketing approach Wellesley Outfitters may consider the app experience as a separate interaction. The reality, of course, is that as far as the customer is concerned it is all part of one holistic engagement with a brand.

A lack of channel integration hampers personalization efforts for the same reason. Without real-time insight into how a customer is moving through various channels, brands lose the relevance and context required to delight customers with a personalized CX optimized for each interaction. If personalization stops at engaging with a customer in the channel of their choosing, minimal benefits are easily outweighed by introducing friction into the customer experience by providing a customer with an irrelevant experience that ignores the entire, holistic customer journey.

Mutlichannel vs. Omnichannel Marketing

While a CDP can certainly support a multichannel marketing strategy, the technology is more suited to support omnichannel marketing, which integrates channels and eliminates data siloes and data latency to enable an organization to move at the pace of the customer throughout a dynamic, non-linear customer journey.

An omnichannel approach connects a customer’s digital and traditional experiences, which increases customer satisfaction and lifetime value. Research from IDC shows that omnichannel shoppers have a 30 percent higher lifetime value than customers who use a single channel. And an Aberdeen Group survey shows that companies with an extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement have an 83 percent customer retention rating compared to 53 percent for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.

Omnichannel marketing more accurately reflects the way today’s consumers engage with brands across both physical and digital channels and online and offline touchpoints. The strategy enables a personalized, relevant experience that is always in the cadence of the customer journey wherever a customer chooses to engage.

For more on the Redpoint omnichannel approach that puts customers in charge, and puts you in control, click here.

Editor’s Note: A follow-up blog post will examine omnichannel personalization in more detail, including exploring how real-time customer engagement that is consistent across all enterprise touchpoints leads to outsized revenue gains.



Optimize Customer Engagement with an Omnichannel Strategy

Customer Data Platforms and the New Omnichannel Journey

What is an Omnichannel Customer Engagement Strategy?

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