From the C-Suite: The Real Difference Between Omnichannel and Multi-channel Marketing

Guest Author:
Mayur Gupta, VP, Growth
and Marketing, Spotify

Each month, we share a top article that CMOs are talking about. Trending this month is a commentary by Mayur Gupta, VP, Growth and Marketing, Spotify, on why multi-channel and omnichannel strategies aren't created equally.

Today’s consumers find themselves in a continuous spin cycle of media channels and outlets competing for their attention - simultaneously exposing them to a multitude of messages, media formats and calls to action. I won't elaborate on the common knowledge that, wherever your audience is, that’s where you should be, too. Rather, I'll ask a question of your marketing presence: Is your brand simply existing on each channel that your customers are on (possibly with different strategies and teams managing them)? Or, is your brand creating an experience that spans these same channels, moving the customer through a cohesive story, wherever they may be? 

In my original article on this topic, I summed up the nuanced difference of multi-channel and omnichannel as such:

"Isn’t that the same thing? Not exactly. In fact, recognizing the difference between the two might seem arbitrary, but the distinction is incredibly useful in creating a meaningful brand impression.

Multi-channel simply means you are using different vehicles for your messaging – regardless of cohesiveness, strategy or, most importantly, the customers’ needs and behaviors. Omnichannel also encompasses multiple vehicles but requires a much larger commitment to a cohesive brand presence along each part of the customer journey in context to emotional and functional need."

Omnichannel presence provides a consolidated, strategic and readily identifiable brand message that is easy to get to know, interact with and trust - it's more than just being present, it’s creating an immersive brand experience.

  • Contextual relevancy comes with being customer-obsessed. Reaching the right person at the right time, has much less to do with individual platforms and much more to do with understanding the people behind those analytics reports. Applying your data to address the needs, wants and desires of your customers will help you understand what behaviors need to be changed. Then, you can move your team away from providing the same message on different channels toward leveraging a seamless content strategy with complementary, co-existing pieces that tell one story and inspire that change.

  • Universal Consumer Profiles give a holistic view of customer behavior. Consumers don't silo their online activity, so it wouldn't make sense to collect data in this way, either. Put in place internal and external systems that effectively share data, between all paid, owned and earned channels. Get rid of all data collection methods that don't fit into this unified customer view.

  • Having a unified experience means having a unified team. While it's common for many multi-channel brands to employ experts to tackle each channel, effective omnipresence requires a much more unified approach at every level. Adopting a team dynamic that allows you to represent your company and product as a singular, interconnected entity should be at the forefront of your mind.

  • The real goals are increased engagement and lifetime customer value. While consumers may very well make a purchase decision whenever and wherever the mood strikes, what turns a one-time impulse into a lifetime loyalty is the relationship that has been established during the customer journey. A multichannel approach guarantees that you are there - an omnichannel approach makes sure you are there for them.

It’s a big difference.

And you can be sure that a consistent customer experience that merges contextually with their lives and needs is a sure-fire way to earn people’s trust and keep it. Today's consumers are everywhere all at once - they’re Googling, snapping, listening to music, sharing peer reviews and even directly talking to our brands on social media. A marketing strategy dedicated to achieving, relevant omnichannel presence is the best way to produce a completely composed view of your company and its value.