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There has been some confusion in what the difference really is between cross-channel, multichannel, and omnichannel marketing. There are important distinctions between the three, and each is implemented differently. Here is some help to differentiate between them.
Cross-channel marketing is perhaps the simplest. It involves the use of varying media to research and/or buy a particular product or service. An example of cross-channel marketing could begin with a cleaning service employing a telemarketer to call businesses to sell this service. Needing a cleaning service at the time, the customer then finds the website, searches for customer reviews, and eventually the cleaning service calls back upon reaching a decision. The customer has used three compatible marketing channels here to sell one product: telemarketing, the company’s website, and online reviews. Software such as Oracle Eloqua for B2B marketers may be useful when implementing cross-channel marketing.
Multichannel marketing is pretty much what its name suggests. By using multiple channels to market your product/services (a store, website, mail, online ads, etc.), the customer can choose the media they wish to interact with. Different people or departments that do not communicate with one another often maintain these channels: for example, when the person who maintains your website has no contact with your sales people, who have little contact with your marketers. Today’s outsourcing trend makes this scenario even more possible. A real-world example of this is the buyer who sees a product recommendation from a network contact who has bought from a website, then meets with a salesperson to find that there is discrepancy in the prices quoted. Although offering customers more relevant choices as far as which medium they prefer to use when making a purchase, multichannel marketing comes more from a marketing than customer-oriented perspective.
Omnichannel marketing is the most sophisticated of all approaches, and the most tailored to the customer. It aims for a streamlined, intelligent, and integrated approach, which is consistent across all forms of marketing. The different marketing channels employed must communicate with each other. Data is gathered on the customer from the multiple touchpoints on the differing media they use. What products they’ve looked at on your website, for example, or previous purchases, allow marketers to give them relevant information on all platforms they use. You can establish one profile of a customer across channels, simplifying the buying process. Marketing technology is essential in this approach, using such tools as segmentation, content management, predictive analytics, etc. The goal is to offer a holistic, consistent experience for the buyer.
All three marketing strategies require different approaches, and create a different customer experience. Depending on your business and resources, you may have a clear preference on which is most relevant for your company.
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