Marketing is a crucial element in any business. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. Marketing is constantly evolving into a digital era and traditional marketing is no longer as effective as it once was. Marketers and analysts have different views on what works and what doesn’t. What may work for one business may not necessarily work for another. There are three options which include: Multi-channel, Cross-channel and Omni-channel. The critical factor in a marketing strategy is to understand your consumers and what they want.
Multi-Channel Marketing: Multiple but Separate
Multi-channel advertising became available when the internet became part of the consumers purchasing journey. Consumers are able to use different channels to communicate and purchase from retailers. However, the channels are disconnected and completely separate. They work completely independently from each other preventing customers from jumping from one channel to another. For example, if a consumer is considering buying a book that he/she saw in a print ad, that consumer cannot pick up the shopping journey online. The consumer would need to start from scratch. The same can be said if they searched for the product online and later went into the store, the sales people will have no record of the online activity.
This type of marketing is a form of mass marketing. The aim is to get the message out through as many mediums as possible to get the widest customer engagement.
The specific channels can include a print ad, a retail store visit, a website, mobile app, word of mouth or a promotional event. Multi-channel marketing channels are in competition with each other, and customers must choose which channel they would like to work with for their purchasing journey. Many multi-channel companies use social media and email marketing.
This type of marketing is more suited for small startup businesses who want to increase their brand awareness. However, it is becoming redundant for more established businesses, which brings us to cross-channel and omni-channel marketing.
Cross-Channel: Multiple and Connected
In 2018, most retailers already started using cross-channel marketing to some degree. For many though, there may still be room for improvement with regards to increased accessibility of cross channels.
Cross-channel marketing is similar to multi-channel marketing with one difference: the communication channels are connected. These channels record and communicate information between each other and allow a cross over simplifying the consumers purchasing journey.
An example of cross-channel marketing would be receiving an email survey after shopping in-store which asks about the purchasing experience. The survey could ask about the customer experience and offer a discount on the next purchase to be made in store or online. If purchased in store, the store will have a record of the email and the discount offered. A second example of cross channel marketing is a “click and buy” approach. Consumers are able to purchase online by clicking on an ad which reverts to the website and collects the item in store.
These channels are no longer competing with others but rather complementing each other and cross channel marketing makes the consumers purchasing journey a lot simpler and more accessible.
Omni-Channel: Multiple and Interactive
Omni-channel marketing is the most advanced type of marketing and focuses on building a stronger relationship between consumers and the brand. This type of marketing takes the purchasing journey to the next level for consumers. They are able to use several channels for the same order which provides an integrated shopping experience. One channel serves another. For example, if a consumer goes into a store and finds a pair of shoes but the store doesn’t have his/her size, it can be ordered online immediately by the sales person. All the customer has to do is give all his/her personal details and pay for it. It will then be delivered to the consumer’s home.
Omni-channel strategies allow customers to access real-time information, wherever and whenever necessary, no matter the channel used. This type of marketing breaks the gap between online and offline. The goal of this type of marketing mixes a brand’s channels to ease the consumer experience. “Click & collect” allows clients to order online and get the product in-store for example. Or a consumer can try on clothes in store and later purchase them online.
This type of marketing is becoming increasingly popular, while customers are demanding complete transparency and accessibility in the way they shop, and omni-channel marketing provides them the ultimate customer experience.
Omni-channel businesses are meticulous in ensuring their consumers receive the same experience and messaging through each and every channel. A consistent brand image and messaging ensures an increased sense of familiarity and relationship with the brand. The message portrayed must be consistent to ensure the strategy implementation is successful.
Multi-channel, cross-channel and omni-channel are unique marketing strategies that all aim to reach consumers and potential consumers by leveraging multiple channels. In order to increase customer retention, marketers need to move more to omni-channel marketing which gives the consumer the ultimate purchasing journey.
Whether you use multi-channel, cross-channel or omni-channel marketing, the most vital goal is putting your customers experience at the forefront of your marketing strategy. The buying process should be as simple and instinctive as possible to ensure your marketing efforts remain relevant and top of your game in your sector.
“Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving”. David Ogilvy