Omnichannel Versus Multichannel Marketing

             Best-selling author and content marketing expert Ann Handley described omnichannel marketing as “a seamless and unified experience across every channel” for the customer.  Continuing, Handley stated that omnichannel marketing “refers to the overall brand experience that a customer has of you across any platform, any channel, in person, or online, every step of the way.”  Omnichannel marketing emphasizes a personalized, customer-centric view, focused on the point of view of the customer instead of the marketing team.  It is completely integrated to provide a consistent experience for the customer across all channels, whether that be social, online, or in print.  Additionally, omnichannel marketing follows a customer through his or her purchase journey, updating as they make purchases, for example. 

              Ann Handley gave a great example of omnichannel marketing with the company Baking Steel, which sells high quality baking sheets specifically designed to bake the perfect pizza.  The company’s story tells of a love of food, family, and togetherness, something that all consumers can relate to and feel good about.  On their website, Baking Steel has a blog with recipes for which customers can use their products to try new meals with family.  This is a channel through which they sell their brand and tell their story, with the customer at the center.  All of their customer touch points maintain a cohesive theme and story, making it an excellent example of omnichannel marketing. 

              On the other hand, multichannel marketing is when a company uses several different modes to communicate their ideas to a customer, putting the company at the center of the channels instead of the customer.  Because it is not customer-central, multichannel marketing does not allow for the same level of personalization as omnichannel.  Multichannel, however, casts a wider net and more easily reaches customers in different target segments through its use of many different channels.  It gives each channel the freedom of its own strategy and ideas.  Because of this, marketers can use A/B testing amongst channels in a multichannel marketing strategy to test which images, messages, and touch points work best. 

              One of the first companies to utilize multichannel marketing was JC Penney.  JC Penney was the first department store to sell online, opening up a never before used channel.  In the present, they continue to operate online and in brick and mortar stores, but they have expanded their customer channels further.  Now, on Facebook, customers can browse through the product catalog and make purchases right through the website or app.  This allows ease of purchase for customers browsing social media.  While all of these channels do not blend together in the same format seamlessly, like in an omnichannel strategy, multichannel marketing is still able to reach many different market segments to bolster sales. 

              Conclusively, omnichannel and multichannel marketing both offer pros and cons to a marketing strategy.  In the end, the choice between the two depends on many factors—including brand, campaign type, and target audience and platforms.  So which will work better for your next campaign?  Omnichannel or multichannel? 

By Marley Niesz


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1.  Santa Tracker- Google Maps

A CLASSIC holiday campaign. Santa Tracker is so synonymous with Christmas you may have never even realized it’s a well-disguised advertising campaign for Google Maps. Every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember my family looks at the Santa Tracker website to get into the holiday spirit.  Santa Tracker appeals to kids and adults of all ages, and with new features added every year, continues to successfully evolve.

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2.  #OptOutside- REI

I need to get something off my chest… for as much as I love Thanksgiving, I HATE Black Friday.  As a result, I love REI and its #OptOutside Black Friday campaign, for which they closed all their stores to encourage people to spend time outside and give back to Mother Earth. Customers used the hashtag #OptOutside to showcase their time in nature on social media, simultaneously providing UGC (user-generated content) for the REI brand. This campaign is unique and meaningful and continues to be a success year after year. 

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3. #NZsecretsanta- New Zealand Post’s Secret Santa Gift Exchange

In 2013, the New Zealand Post decided to sponsor the online Secret Santa social media campaign started by twitter user @WebSam. #NZsecretsanta turned into a nation-wide celebration of generosity and togetherness where participants spend up to $10 sending a gift to a total stranger — connecting people all across the country. Even the Prime Minister participates! The success of this social media campaign continues to grow every year for the New Zealand Post, and everyone who participates receives a gift. It’s a win-win!

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4. First Christmas- Alaska Milk

In this commercial, which perfectly touches on togetherness, emotion and memories, a daughter experiences her first Christmas without her mom. To bring her family joy during this tough time, she makes her mother’s special Filipino Sapin-Sapin Christmas recipe using Alaska Milk. This holiday commercial was a huge success because of the significance and global familiarity of sitting down for a meal with family transcends all cultures.

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5. No Need to Fly/Around the World in Germany- Deutsche Bahn

A whopping 72% of Germans travel abroad for the holidays. In this innovative marketing campaign, Deutsche Bahn, a German rail line, encouraged Germans to stay home for the holidays instead. Each commercial compared foreign tourist spots to ones within their own country, and showed the money saved by choosing to ride a train instead of fly. Utilizing beautiful, “Instagram-able” imagery, Deutsche Bahn impressively compared the landmarks and countryside of Germany to ones all across the world. After airing this campaign, they saw a 6.61%. conversion rate and  a 24% YOY increase in revenue. Now that’s inspiring!

By Marley Niesz

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