Any marketing initiative has buzzwords, and sometimes those words can seem at best vague and at worst empty. Multi-channel and omni-channel are two common terms you’ll hear floating around in discussions on customer communications. To cut to the chase: There is a difference, and the difference is important.
Multichannel communication refers to the use of different types of channels with your brand or product at the center of this communication. These channels include mail, email, websites, phone calls, social media—any means of connection between you and your customers. A multichannel approach gives the customer a choice in how to reach your company or product. Each of these channels is distinct and (hopefully) strong, but they working toward the same end—you.
Omnichannel communication is about creating a fluid customer experience across these channels. It’s common now for a modern consumer to switch frequently between channels. (Think of how often you are on your laptop and then look down at your phone.) An omnichannel approach aims to make that switch seem natural and consistent. In other words, the customer’s view and experience are central to the process, and data is used to make that experience integrated and remove the “feeling” of channels.
If multichannel is more about availability, then omnichannel is more about consistency. While multichannel centers your brand or product, omnichannel centers the customer.