New technologies have made it easier for consumers to use different tools to access information, products, and services easily and quickly.
The first contact with our brand is even made simultaneously, through different channels and devices, opening up a whole range of options to grow our business.
In this context, two concepts emerge from the evolution in the relationship between customers and companies: omnichannel and multi-channel; two strategies that, when well applied, guarantee the user an increasingly authentic experience, adjusted to their actual needs and with a high level of relationship.
Both terms seem to be similar, but there are marked differences that we must take into account when choosing which of the two alternatives best fits our business objectives.
What is multi-channel?
Multi-channel communication refers to making different channels available to the customer, whether physical or digital, to reach the brand on multiple platforms.
The options range from traditional media such as radio, television, and press, to direct marketing strategies using emails, instant messaging such as Whatsapp and social networks -Facebook, Instagram, Youtube-, among others.
However, each channel is treated separately, even having its own goals. Hence the importance of carefully adapting the message to the channel from which the information is sent since this will mean a different experience for the customer.
Multi-channel focuses on maximizing the performance of each channel independently, without considering an integration strategy with each other.
What is omnichannel?
Omnichannel focuses on the customer, with the primary objective of satisfying them in the best possible way. So, no matter where you are located or how you communicate with our brand, you will find no difference between the different media when it comes to interacting with us.
Companies that apply this technique align their messages, objectives, and designs across all channels and devices, assigning equal value to each experience and creating an entire brand ecosystem that includes the online and offline environments, enhancing hybrid experiences.
The omnichannel strategy goes beyond the pretense of closing sales and aims at customer loyalty to ensure recall through personalized experiences; therefore, it involves more effective tools and perfect coordination between them.
Once implemented, its advantages include the generation of new insights and action plans, the collection of real-time customer data, and a broader strengthening of the relationship with our products or services.
Multichannel vs. Omnichannel
Achieving smooth communication is vital for high customer satisfaction and a quality relationship. For this purpose, both approaches can be used. However, the difference in the functions of each one makes one strategy far outperform the other.
One of the most common scenarios arises when we are faced with the dilemma of what is best for our company: choosing diversity or promoting coherence?
As we will have seen, it is essential to diversify the multiple channels and use them to their advantage in multi-channel. In this way, we find that, in social networks, content invites dialogue, the website provides more exhaustive information. At the same time, mobile-friendly sites seek to achieve more straightforward navigation.
On the other hand, Omnichannel generates a unified experience across all channels, spreading the same message on websites, on social networks, or in the offline environment. This approach proposes that the company’s different teams – marketing, sales, the team in a physical store – know each message and spread it so that there is no break in the discourse.
The debate between multi-channel and omnichannel also raises another question: to have our brand at the center of communication or, on the contrary, to be entirely client-centric?
Opting for a multi-channel strategy requires understanding each channel’s characteristics and maximizing its performance separately. The premise is: “the more channels we enable, the more customers we will have,” as this focus focuses on attracting the most significant number of customers by talking to them through the maximum number of channels.
Meanwhile, omnichannel is about in-depth knowledge of the customer, which then allows them to offer personalized attention. Here, it is essential to have tools that facilitate direct communication, such as a CRM platform that unifies data and allows different company teams to access that information.
Benefits of one model and another
Which of the two strategies is best for my business? The answer lies in the benefits of each one since the real difference lies in how communication and sales channels are managed.
With multi-channel, the brand can segment customers, offer channels that are more in line with their needs, and create a specific spot for each of them.
You can also define specific targets for each product and improve the relationship with the customer who has a preference for a given medium. However, we cannot ignore that the multi-channel approach has the disadvantage that, since there is no connection between channels, the message received by customers can be confusing, being a much more sensitive issue when it comes to a complaint or complaint, which could affect the brand’s reputation and customer loyalty to it.
On the other hand, the range of benefits of omnichannel ensures consistent interaction, strengthening coherent and seamless communication, projecting an excellent image for our brand.
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This strategy ensures a two-way interaction, where feedback is paramount, and the customer feels involved at all times; this translates into a greater degree of brand loyalty and loyalty, finding a quick resolution to their problems.
In addition, we must remember that a loyal customer becomes an excellent validator that will attract other customers.
The omnichannel approach also promotes efficiency in processes; since the same information is handled across all channels, the customer service time is reduced, increasing the speed we deliver solutions. This point increases the positive impact of customers on the brand.
Conclusions on Omnichannel and Multichannel Marketing
The panorama that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented us with reveals data to help us decide between an omnichannel or a multi-channel strategy, especially when we talk about techniques adapted to the reality of consumers.
In the case of igloolab, as a company specializing in pharmaceutical marketing, we have relied on interesting measurements that have guided us in the trends our clients’ behavior exposes.
For example, a study by Icon Group noted that, globally, the pandemic had caused an unprecedented change in the composition of the promotional mix and that despite being a transient situation, almost 45% of physicians interviewed in 9 countries reported that they preferred a hybrid model in their future interactions with the pharmaceutical industry.
In this regard, it has become an urgent need to broaden the spectrum of experiences we provide to our customers and be much more efficient in disseminating messages. The secret of effective communication, in our case, has been the structuring of disruptive digital strategies focused on omnichannel.
Implementing this technique has helped us boost our customers, as it facilitates the cross-organization of communication channels and allows them to be present throughout the entire buying process of their prospects. In addition, the omnichannel model provides data that opens up the possibility of better understanding users’ reasons and buying preferences.
In this sense, making different formats available to our public to keep them connected to brands is a challenge of significant impact achieved by expanding the hub of scientific content to other horizons: Podcast, videos, images, PDF, articles, studies, clinical cases, games, surveys and votes, customer persona and data advanced, among others; but always keeping the message coherence and solidity in the brand.
From our experience, the omnichannel strategy represents an advanced multi-channel scheme, going one step ahead and translating into high-quality standards that increase users’ levels of loyalty and loyalty.
Luis Alfonso Ruíz CEO de Igloolab