Multichannel Vs. Omnichannel Marketing: Is There a Difference?

Which marketing approach would you say best describes your print business: multichannel or omnichannel?

While some of you may have been able to instantly offer a response to that question, most likely, a larger majority of you stopped yourself and thought, “Wait… there’s a difference?”

The truth is that multichannel and omnichannel marketing are more than trendy marketing buzzwords; they’re two notably different marketing approaches that can help you build relationships and sell more printing.

Definitions: Multichannel vs. Omnichannel Marketing

To start with the basics, let’s look at what these two different words even mean. Are omni- and multi- interchangeable?

The short answer is no.

If you were to strip this whole blog post down to semantics, you could say that “multi” means some while “omni” means all.

Multichannel marketing focuses on using multiple channels to strive for the highest level of customer engagement. However, these channels are often in insolation of each other.

Omnichannel marketing also focuses on using multiple channels; however, the focus is more on providing the ultimate customer experience by interactively connecting all of the different channels.

While all omnichannel marketing uses multiple channels, not all multichannel campaigns are omnichannel.

If you’re still confused, here are some examples.

  • A Multichannel Approach. Let’s say a business advertises its product in a Facebook ad. When a prospect clicks to learn more, they’re then directed to the company’s physical store. However, once the prospect makes it to the store, they find the product is no longer available, leaving the potential buyer frustrated. While this business used multiple channels to connect with its audience, the channels worked independently of each other.
  • An Omnichannel Approach. It could look like this if you examine that same example through an omnichannel lens. A business advertises its product in a Facebook ad. When a prospect clicks to learn more, they’re then directed to the business’s website to place an order. If the product is not available, the website suggests similar alternatives or provides a phone number to call. While there, there’s also the opportunity to sign up for the company’s email list to be notified of when the product becomes available and upcoming marketing promotions. The main differentiator here is that all channels (social media, website, phone, email) are all working together in an integrated approach.

Omnichannel marketing is becoming more and more essential to your print business’s success because consumers today will often start their journey with your brand on one marketing channel and finish on another. What’s more, they expect a consistent brand message and seamless experience across all channels.

3 Key Differences of Multichannel and Omnichannel Marketing

1. Focus

With multichannel marketing, typically, you’ll see a focus on widening a business’s reach using a large number of channels. It’s an approach centered on the channel and aims to get the maximum level of customer engagement.

Omnichannel marketing, however, is an approach centered on the customer. The idea is to support the customer’s journey by providing the highest-level customer experience and eliminating as much effort as possible on behalf of the customer.

2. Integration

 Multichannel marketing has multiple channels that are independent and disconnected from each other. While each of these channels have the same goal (customer engagement), they each play a different role. Think of a football team. All of the players on the team have a goal to get a touchdown, but each player has a different job in order to accomplish that goal.

Omnichannel marketing works by connecting multiple channels and all of them working together. In this approach, all of the channels have the same message and work together to get it out in the world. You could visualize this by considering how a musician might release a new song. The artist will release it on the radio, streaming services, social media, music video, and more. All of these channels work together to provide the same thing: a way for the eager listener to hear the new song.

3. Data and Incentives

 Multichannel marketing will have each marketing channel have its own goals and incentives to maximize its performance, such as increasing Facebook followers, without necessarily focusing on improving customer experience across the whole of the interaction with the brand. The data surrounding these goals will also typically be stored or managed separately for each channel.

On the other hand, omnichannel marketing focuses on creating incentives designed to drive efforts across channels. Because of the seamless journey at the heart of omnichannel marketing, the marketer knows that one channel connects to the next and is not worried as much about entry and exit points on the journey as with multichannel marketing. Omnichannel marketing works well to give a business a well-rounded and connected view of customer information.

Which Marketing Approach is Best?

Before even attempting to answer that question, let us be clear: if you’re not marketing your print business at all, the most important thing you can do is START. You can always fine-tune your approach later.

For those further into their marketing journey, ask yourself the following questions about which type of marketing approach to take for your print business.

  • Do your print buyers often experience miscommunication or mixed messaging/branding between your various marketing channels?
  • Are your print buyers frustrated with the need to use multiple channels in order to do business with you? (For example, they read your blog, but they can’t get to your website to order. Or, they went to your website, but they have to call you to place an order.)
  • Are you using different selling styles on different channels?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, your print buyers and business could benefit from an omnichannel marketing approach.

At Marketing Ideas For Printers, we combine omnichannel marketing content, technology made simple, and a laser-like focus on printers to help you win at selling more printing.

If you’d like help giving your print buyers the feeling of personalized service they’re looking for, reach out to us at (800) 736-0688.


Related blogs and resources:

Learn about omnichannel marketing – what it is, why it’s important, and how to start

The Hidden Cost of Not Marketing Your Print Business

3 Ways to Make Your Own Marketing a Priority

Top 10 Mistakes Printers Make When Marketing Themselves