If a new word arrives which requires acres of copy to explain why it is different to another one, even the least cynical among us might think that someone is trying too hard. When looking for the definition, or even explanation of what omnichannel is, I found a proliferation of phrases such as ‘is essence’ which mostly lead to contradictory explanations.
Multi-channel, the hyphen being down to personal preference it appears, is simply using all platforms to promote a product during a campaign. The message is identical however presented. A specific design is used for the poster image, the email marketing campaign, Facebook, etc and customers are comforted by consistency.
The similarity with cross-channel and total email marketing was striking and makes one wonder if omnichannel is just the next buzzword. A free pdf I downloaded which promised to explain what the word means turned out to be a slightly modified version of the free pdf download for multi-channel, even retaining the title.
There are any numbers of analogies put forward but one that is particularly apt concerns Starbucks. It is not so long ago that someone proffering a mobile phone to pay for a latte would have raised eyebrows. Now all it does is make you wonder what offer you may have missed.
The function of omnichannel is to integrate all platforms in marketing, not only for the sale of a product but for the whole user experience. Instead of depending on a customer following a set procedure, such as opening a marketing email, clicking on the link and then paying for it, they are encouraged to use whatever platform they find best suits them.
Your latest email marketing campaign might be first read on a mobile phone. Most are it seems. The odds are that the person will then reopen the email on a laptop. With omnichannel, they can check stock at their local retail outlet, turn up and compare various colours before buying the item using the email marketing offer.
It is user focused as never before, which, the evidence seems to suggest, is the way to better ROI. Some changes are necessary though, most importantly that internal departments and units work together. There should be no prizes for the final sale. Infighting, restrictions and individual targets will hurt profits.
The difference between omnichannel and multi-channel is significant but it is not an either/or case. You will still be able to use multiple channels, and should come to that, unless your returns show that it is not productive.
As one might expect with anything that uses email marketing in any way, data is big for omnichannel, and this points to a modification in method of presentation. You will need to hone each individual platform for the particular users; targeting in fact. We will want customer progress to be as seamless as possible despite having to modify the presentation according to the users’ preferences.
As is the norm with hyped buzzwords, there is a temptation to ignore in the hope that it will go away, but this one is here to stay. We’ll have more to say on this.