Multi-Channel vs. Cross-Channel vs. Omnichannel Marketing

By Danni White - Last Updated on September 10, 2019
Multi-Channel vs. Cross-Channel vs. Omnichannel Marketing

Though there were once a few channels for businesses to market through, those numbers have multiplied over the years. Now, businesses have many options and ways to put them to work. Multi-channel, omnichannel, and cross-channel marketing are three of those ways. Although the use of cross-channel and omnichannel strategies are growing in popularity, multi-channel marketing is phasing out.

Major Difference Between Multi-Channel, Cross-Channel and Omnichannel Marketing

The following are six ways in which these strategies have different effects on your business.

1. Separation or Integration

Have you ever heard an orchestra play? It can be a powerful and moving experience to hear all those separate instruments work together to create a beautiful sound.

Imagine, though, that the leader told the entire orchestra that there would be a concert in three weeks. That is all the information they get. The leader does not even share the music list. He simply instructs each section to practice separate from one another.

What do you think will happen at that concert?

Most likely, none of the sections will play the same song. And though each sounds beautiful separately, it will sound horrible altogether. This discord is like multi-channel marketing. Though each channel may be doing great separately, the discord between them causes disharmony overall.

What if, instead, the orchestra leader shares the music but still wants the sections to practice separately? It will probably go a little better. They would at least all know the music, even if they began on a separate beat. The discord would decrease, just as cross-channel integration gets departments and teams on the same page.

Now, if the leader chose to share everything with the entire orchestra, including the music, and had all sections practice together, there would be harmony. Although each section plays a different instrument and comes in at different times, they merge into a wonderful sound. With the integration and collaboration from omnichannel marketing, you can minimize the discord to almost nonexistent.

2. Competition or Collaboration

While competition can be a great motivator, it can also tear a company to pieces. For instance, breaking the sales department down into teams to see who reaches the highest sales in a month can be healthy. However, fully pitting employees against one another is asking for trouble. When your channels are competing with one another, you can lose sales. If the in-store salespeople compete against online sales to the point that they do not utilize one another, it is no longer healthy.

For example, imagine a customer walks into an electronics store looking for a Dell laptop. There are no Dell laptops available at the store now, so the salesperson should offer to order it online for the customer. By doing this, the retail associate shows that the customer’s desire is most important. However, if that salesperson chooses to make the customer wait just to keep the online sales team from making a sale, that is not at all healthy. In a competition like this, no one is the winner. Keep the competition to a minimum.

3. Broad View or Laser Focus

Multi-channel marketing is like having a broad view of something, which does have its place. Not every single piece of your strategy should be completely interwoven. However, your focus should not be spread too thin, either. When everyone is laser-focused in one direction, the results are impressive, to say the least.

4. Customer Prioritization

Each strategy shows the customer at a different priority level. In multi-channel marketing, it seems like the customer is at the bottom of the priority list. It looks as though the company cares more about catching a lot of fish than caring for the ones already in the net.

Cross-channel marketing moves the customer up the priority ladder. However, there are still some barriers that affect the customer experience. As all streams lead to the same lake with omnichannel marketing, the customer is the number one priority. There are as few barriers and objections as possible, so the customer journey is a smooth and effortless one.

5. Brand Consistency

Maintaining a consistent brand is an important part of growing into a well-known and trusted brands. When your marketing channels share completely different messages, there is no consistency. Cross-channel or multi-channel strategies work much better for building and maintaining brand consistency.

6. Personalization

When you log on to a website that you have been on before and it greets you by name, how does that feel? It makes most people feel valued, and valued customers return. When channels work together, personalization is much easier. However, when none of the channels are connected, the website does not know you signed onto the app, the app does not know you visited the store, and so on. When channels are integrated, personalization can be automated.

Omnichannel and cross-channel marketing can be very effective methods. And though multi-channel marketing once had a place, companies are becoming more customer-centric. As a result, their marketing strategies are adopting that view as well. If all your marketing channels are currently working separate, consider making a change. Determine what one goal all channels can focus on and integrate all efforts to move in that one direction.

Danni White | Danni White is the CEO of DW Creative Consulting Agency, a digital marketing firm specializing in elevating the visibility of small-to-midsize businesses and nonprofits. She is the author of 17 books and hosts the #Hashtags and Habits Podcast, which merges digital marketing, entrepreneurship, and personal growth.

Danni White |Danni White is the CEO of DW Creative Consulting Agency, a digital marketing firm specializing in elevating the visibility of small-to-midsize businesses and nonprofits. She is the author of 17 books and hosts the #Hashtags and Habits Podcast, which merges digital marketing, entrepreneurship, and personal growth.

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