The Debate Surrounding Multichannel, Omnichannel and Cross-Channel

In the digital marketing industry, the terms multichannel, omnichannel and cross-channel marketing are used interchangeably to convey real-world challenges brands encounter in their attempts to keep up with customers who move fluidly across today’s fragmented landscape.

While these three concepts are related to one another, there are important distinctions that set them apart.

Direct Marketing News recently examined this topic in an article entitled “Have Marketers Outgrown Multichannel?” In the story, the following definitions are suggested:

  • Multichannel: a marketer-centric approach that focuses on the inner workings of how campaigns are constructed across different channels.
  • Omnichannel: a consumer-centric approach that puts the customer’s holistic brand experience first, across all online and offline channels.
  • Cross-channel: an inter-relational approach that is aimed at using a particular channel to empower the use of another in marketing campaigns.

Semantics aside, it’s critical for brands to understand what multiple channels and devices mean for their customer relationships throughout the entire lifecycle of acquisition, commerce, loyalty and retention.

Check out Experian’s “2014 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Report,” which found that 80 percent of marketers are planning to run cross-channel marketing campaigns this year.

A growing number of Signal clients are asking for our help in overcoming obstacles to collecting, connecting and acting on customer data across touchpoints. Signal Fuse™ is helping them to unite cross-channel customer activities in real time, and then use those insights to drive more engagement, conversion and loyalty.

Marketers, how do you differentiate between these terms, and which are most important to you?

Originally published May 12, 2014

Carol Jouzaitis

Carol Jouzaitis was previously VP, Analyst Relations at Signal.

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