Omnichannel is a term that's been floating around the marketing and sales industry for years. Some teams have adopted the strategy, and some have shied away from it. Throughout the tumult of the last year, it has gained a new relevance, and those who've long avoided the switch must now reconsider. Learning what exactly the famed marketing strategy is, is a good place to start.
The term is formed from the prefix, ‘omni,’ and the root word, ‘channel.’ To understand what omnichannel marketing is, let’s take a look at how each part of the word is defined. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,
Omni- when added to the beginning of a root word modifies the meaning of the world to indicate ‘all’ or ‘universally.’
Channel when used as a noun can be defined as “a means of communication or expression.”
Now, I’m sure that the word channel isn’t new to you. In the marketing context it’s often used to refer to the different means through which marketers share and promote their brands. So, when we put together the definitions of each part of the word and provide a little context, we find that Omnichannel simply refers to a strategy in which all channels utilized to promote a brand work together to create a more enjoyable and consistent experience.
However, everyone knows that marketing is never that simple. Subsequently, omnichannel marketing isn’t quite as simple as the above definition might imply. For instance, if you take the definition of the word too literally, you might believe that the strategy must include all marketing channels, which isn’t the case. In fact, experts encourage you to limit your channels to those that your audience interact with most while testing new channels as preferences inevitably change (another thing everyone knows).
Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for marketers to assume that omnichannel is just multichannel with a fancier name. They’re not entirely wrong, but they’re not right either (see, not so simple). The comparison is much like that of rectangles and squares, which I believe (I was never great at math though) went something along the lines of ‘all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.’ Maybe it was the other way around. Regardless, if you apply that logic you see that all omnichannel marketing strategies include a multichannel strategy, but not all multichannel strategies are omnichannel. If that doesn’t complicate things, I don’t know what will.
Ultimately, omnichannel is an evolutionary model of multichannel. It employs multiple channels, but rather than using them independently of one another, as in a multichannel strategy, it blurs the lines between each channel to create a smooth transition from one channel interaction to another.
Omnichannel Marketing is . . .
Feeling more confused than you were at the beginning? Me too. Let’s look at the simple definition again and try to wrap this all up into an easier, albeit far more boring, package.
Omnichannel marketing is a strategy in which all of the channels that are preferred by your audience are seamlessly connected so that they may work cooperatively to deliver a unified brand experience.
That’s our definition anyway, and we’re sticking to it.