The Marketer’s ORCs (Part 13)

ORC #10: Multi-channel or Omnichannel

As customers, our touchpoints with brands have exploded: from in-store to website to app, from the push channel like email, SMS, app notifications, WhatsApp to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok. Then there are the marketplaces where we can also buy products from our favourite brands. For a brand, the traditional approach of building demand through print and TV ads and then using distribution excellence to ensure availability to a retailer near us – that’s a world long gone. This is the multi-channel world: brands have to be present where we as consumers are. In fact, shoppers don’t think of distinctive channels. For them, it is a continuum: a search on Google followed by a website visit and then perhaps a purchase in a nearby store. This is the omnichannel world – the same customer across multiple touchpoints. How does a marketer deal with the modern customer?

A post on Talkative explains: “Multichannel refers to the use of more than one channel to market and communicate information about a brand. These multiple channels are not integrated with one another. A billboard, for example, is not directly connected to a business’ website – they are separate channels used to increase awareness of a brand. Omnichannel also refers to the use of more than one channel to communicate with customers. However, in this case the multiple channels are integrated to create a seamless experience for the customer. In other words, a customer can pick up on one channel where they left off on another.”

I wrote in Building the Hotline Right: “Gone are the days when there was a single channel that brands used to engage with customers. The digital customer of today is omnichannel. While each of us may have our preferred channels, interaction goes across channels. Brand properties now encompass not just websites and apps, but also the social media channels. From Facebook to WhatsApp to Twitter to Instagram to YouTube, all are creating ways to enable commerce. Communications are leading to conversations which in turn shows the way to commerce. The primary push channels are also becoming 2-way: email to Email 2.0 and SMS to RCS. WhatsApp is opening up rapidly for business enablement. Push notifications are being enriched with media. Across all these channels, brands need to create a unified view of each customer by feeding data into a CDP (customer data platform) and then building AI-powered journeys and next best actions for segments (of one).”

The future of marketing is omnichannel personalisation. Success means creating a unified customer view and then making predictions on next best actions and providing continuity in experiences across channels. This will need marketers to shift from point solutions focused on specific channels to a unified martech stack – a transition from Martech 1.0 to Martech 2.0. As I wrote in Digital Marketing and its Discontents and Disruptions: “The past few years have seen marketers implement various opportunistic point solutions on their website and in their apps for marketing automation and journey orchestration. The multitude of solutions has created a suboptimal customer experience. It has fragmented data, rendered AI less effective and limited the availability of a unified customer view. What marketers now need to upgrade to is a Martech 2.0 solution which provides a single stack to do it all and provide a superior customer experience with differentiation for Best customers and thus drive more stickiness – and eventually transactions.”

While some brands will seek out best-of-breed solutions, for most brands the future lies in having a single integrated stack which extends from offering hotlines to automation to improved site search (like the kind that Netcore does). Every single customer’s needs can only be met with a platform that combines data from all touchpoints, uses hotlines to move conversions funnels to the inbox, and creates differentiated experiences in-store and online. At its heart needs to be the thinking that a customer’s lifetime value is what should become the revenue stream for a brand. Only then can marketers become supersize profits rather than leading the loss brigade in transferring good money to “Badtech”.


Conundrum: customers today have a choice of multiple touchpoints – how does the marketer get a single view across all the channels

Insight: siloed point solutions of Martech 1.0 fragment the customer experience

Solution: the need for a unified Martech 2.0 stack to create frictionless shopper experiences

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.

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