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What is Omnichannel Marketing? (+4 Best Practices for Ecommerce)

Whitney Blankenship
Content Marketing Manager
Reading Time: 13 minutes

If you’re like a lot of marketers, you hear omnichannel marketing thrown around all the time. With different definitions per industry, it’s you’re probably lost in the jargon.

You’re probably thinking that this is just “another buzzword” that doesn’t really mean anything. However, I’m here to explain

  • Exactly what omnichannel marketing means
  • How it’s different from multichannel marketing
  • How you can implement that strategy for your own business.
difference between Omnichannel marketing vs Multichannel marketing

Let’s get started:


With the rise of new terminology in the digital marketing world, it can be easy to get lost. Many marketers confuse multichannel marketing with the definition of omnichannel.

So let’s break it down:

What is Omnichannel?

Omnichannel is the idea of using all of your channels to create one, unified experience for your customers. This includes both traditional and digital channels, point-of-sale, in-store, and online experiences.

What is Omnichannel Marketing?

Omnichannel marketing creates a seamless message that adjusts to your customer based on their behavior through your sales funnel, providing the ultimate personalized customer experience.

Omnichannel Marketing Definition:

Omnichannel marketing is using digital and/or traditional marketing channels to send a relevant message to a brand’s customers regardless of the customer engaging with the brand, nor the channels used to engage.

Here are a couple examples to illustrate how this works:

  • A customer getting an email or SMS message about a promotion while in-store shopping
  • A customer getting an SMS about a promotion with a mailer in their mailbox with the physical coupons
  • A customer being retargeted on Facebook with the abandoned product
difference between Omnichannel marketing vs Multichannel marketing

Omnichannel marketing is an approach that provides customers with a completely seamless and integrated shopping experience from the first touchpoint to the last.

That means that each channel works together to create a unified message, voice, and a brand for your company.

The customer of today is omnichannel. They bounce between channels when interacting with an ecommerce brand, and today, marketers are just beginning to respond to that behavior.

Think about it – when was the last time you went to an online store and just purchased on your first visit?

Customers have to build up trust with an ecommerce brand before they feel comfortable enough to purchase.

Using an omnichannel marketing strategy means a few different things:

  • When a customer comes to your brand, no matter what channel, you are present
  • Each channel the customers uses to interact with your updates and automatically responds to the customer’s needs
  • You get a deeper level of personalization no matter who the customer is, what channel they’re using, or where they are in their customer journey

Wait, I thought this was multichannel? Are they the same thing?
No. There are clear differences between multichannel and omnichannel marketing.

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Multichannel vs. Omnichannel Marketing: What’s the Difference?

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Unlike multichannel marketing, omnichannel marketing keeps the message relevant by having each channel update as the customer engages with your brand. Multichannel marketing has largely static messages across several channels, but those channels don’t update and personalize with your customers’ needs.

What’s the difference between omnichannel and multichannel?

The biggest difference between multichannel and omnichannel marketing is that multichannel puts the brand at the center of the strategy and sends the same message out to customers on all channels. This makes multichannel marketing completely different from the omnichannel meaning.

Omnichannel marketing puts the customer at the center of the strategy. In an omnichannel marketing strategy, the message changes and adapts to how the customer has interacted with other channels. SMS marketing strategy should be part of omnichannel communication.

This means that as your customer moves through their customer journey, your channels will automatically update so the next one offers a message that’s relevant to your customer.

There are tons of omnichannel marketing examples out there, but let’s create one to illustrate this difference:

A customer signs up for your mailing list, and opts to receive SMS messages

  • You send a welcome message with their first-time discount via SMS and follow up with email
  • The customer comes back and browses, signing up for push notifications, but ultimately  not purchasing
  • The customer clicks on a retargeting ad and comes back, adding products to their cart
  • The customer receives a cart abandonment message via email and revisits their cart
  • Order and shipping confirmation updates are sent via SMS

From there, any of those used channels could be used again to bring the customer back in for a repeat purchase.

With an omnichannel concept in place, your customer can get a personalized message that’s directly relevant to what they need at any given time, no matter what channel they’re on.

Do customers actually respond to an omnichannel strategy though?

Omnichannel Marketing Statistics: How Does an Omnichannel Strategy Work in Ecommerce?

Omnisend recently put omnichannel marketing to the test. After analyzing over 2 billion campaigns sent over 2018, a few clear trends presented themselves.

We found that customers responded much better to an omnichannel marketing strategy. Marketers using three channels or more in their campaigns, omnichannel campaigns earned 18.96% engagement, compared to marketers using single-channel campaigns who only received 5.4%.

Engagement doesn’t mean more revenue necessarily. However, when compared between single-channel and omnichannel campaigns, campaigns using three channels or more earned a 250% higher purchase rate.

This means that not only were customers engaging more with omnichannel campaigns in 2018, but these same campaigns were encouraging more purchases and revenue generation for marketers too.

Not only did customers engaging with omnichannel campaigns purchase more often in 2018, they often spent more when they did. Customers engaging with campaigns involving three or more channels spent on average 13% more than those engaging with single-channel campaigns.

Omnichannel marketing chart showing data of customers who engaged with campaigns using more several channels

If the higher average order value and purchase rate wasn’t enough to convince you, perhaps customer loyalty might. Customers appreciate the level of personalization offered by an omnichannel marketing strategy, and it shows in the retention rate.

Omnichannel marketing chart showing single channel vs several channels

Marketers using campaigns involving three or more channels had a 90% higher retention rate than those using single-channel campaigns.

Everyone knows your most valuable customers are repeat customers- they’re cheaper to convert, they spend more, and they bring new customers with them through word of mouth marketing.

If an omnichannel marketing strategy can bring in the customers that are going to be most valuable to you, or better, transform your customers into more valuable customers, this is definitely a tactic worth trying.

But where should you start when implementing a marketing strategy?

Looking for more omnichannel statistics? Check out the full report!

How to Best Master Omnichannel Marketing in 2021? 4 Foolproof Steps 

The move to omnichannel marketing is far from only on the consumer side. Even smaller growing ecommerce marketers are seeing the benefits of launching an omnichannel marketing strategy, and as many as 60% have stated that they’ll be implementing one.

Unlike a few years ago, omnichannel marketing is now more readily available for growing ecommerce businesses. But as with anything, when implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy, it’s important to lay a good foundation for it. So how can a retail store implement an omnichannel strategy?

Start by getting everyone on the same page.

#1. Lay the Right Foundation for an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy By Getting Your Whole Team On Board

It’s important to get every member of your team on board with your omnichannel strategy. Putting your customer at the center of your strategy means also putting their data at the center of your customer operations.

Why? Because every member of your team can use that data to create a better experience for the customer.

  • Marketers need that data to send the most relevant message to your customers at the right time
  • Product needs the data for merchandising the products customers appreciate the most
  • Customer success needs the data to keep a consistent conversation with customers

And so on. The more each of your team members knows about your customer, the better overall each of them will be able to respond and interact with them.

Finally, a great omnichannel marketing strategy starts from the ground up. You can’t have your team members working in a silo because that’s counterintuitive to what omnichannel marketing is at its fundamental basis.

Your channels work together to create a better customer experience through omnichannel, so should your team members.

#2. Analyze Your Customer’s Data, and Learning Everything You Can About Them

In order to implement a great omnichannel marketing strategy, it’s important to learn everything you possibly can about your customers.

If you don’t have data starting off, don’t worry. You can collect this data as you go too.

How to start:

  • Overhaul your customer experience: Go through a full purchase on your site, interact with all of your channels, and put in a ticket with customer service. Pull in external people to help evaluate your customer experience.
  • Gather customer feedback: Get it straight from the horse’s mouth. Ask your customers for feedback at several stages of the customer journey. Offer surveys and incentive for customer feedback to encourage responses.

Finally, when your customers do volunteer information or feedback, it’s critical to actually listen to that feedback. If you make excuses about how you can’t or shouldn’t correct a problem, nothing will ever get better.

Listening intently also affords you an opportunity to publicly share solutions by choosing to start a blog and publishing content that provides additional value to both your customers and subscribers who may soon become paying customers.

Your customers are the reason for your success. Treat them like a priority for it.

#3. Appropriately Target Your Messages

A huge part of getting your omnichannel marketing strategy right is targeting and personalization. Since omnichannel marketing offers a deeper level of personalization, it would be a complete waste of the strategy to neglect it.

The best way to target your message, now that you have all that nifty data on your customers, is to segment your subscribers into different smaller lists.

This makes it easier to send personalized messages by having smaller groups based on similar traits. These traits could include:

  • Profile data: any information you might have on who your customer is, like demographics, age, gender, marital status, location, etc.
  • Campaign engagement: how your customers interact with certain campaigns and channels
  • Shopping behavior: where your customer is in their customer journey, how often they shop, when they purchased last, etc.

You can even combine some of those segments to create even smaller, more precise segments.

From this point, you can set up automations to trigger when a customer performs a certain action or goes through a period of time with no action.

This way, you can send the message your customer needs at any given time in their customer journey.

When you make sure that the messages you’re sending are always relevant, your customers will better respond to them.

#4. Test, Measure, and Test Again

As with anything, your omnichannel marketing strategy will improve over time as you collect and analyze more customer data. However, this means you actively need to test different messages, headers/subject lines, images, times, etc.

Test your processes regularly to see which of your segments best respond to which kinds of messages. If you track and measure your data regularly, you are bound to find the perfect formula.

Update and re-audit your customer experience regularly to get the most out of your omnichannel marketing strategy.

Today’s consumer is not only more inclined to purchase with an omnichannel experience, but they’re expecting it.

In fact, we found that 86% of customers are willing to pay up to 25% more for products and services just to have a better customer experience.

We performed a case study for Net-a-Porter around their adoption of omnichannel marketing. Net-a-Porter set up an omnichannel experience around three principal channels:

  • Mobile app/social network
  • Email marketing
  • Ad retargeting

By using a Net-a-Porter social media app, they were able to find products that most resembles the products being shared between customers and then recommend those products. They would then follow up with email and use retargeting ads to meet their customers on other channels.

In 2017, Net-a-Porter profited from a nearly 17% growth with more than €2.5 billion earned. 50% of those sales were via mobile, while email, retargeting, organic, and various other channels made up the rest.

What’s more, Net-a-Porter customers were more than ready to pay more for a better experience: Net-a-Porter earned the highest AOV among online retailers at €328 per order.

Here’s how they did it:

Get your free copy of ‘5 Ecommerce Marketing Automation Case Studies’ today.

Omnichannel Case Study #1: Net-a-Porter

Net-a-Porter is one of the first online-only luxury clothing stores.

When they started out, they had a pretty big challenge: how can they create a luxury brand that is exclusively online?

After all, luxury brands communicate high quality, exclusivity, and unique appeal.

Online brands (especially in the early 2000s when they launched) seemed very far away from those qualities.

Their desired outcome

Net-a-Porter had quite a few important things they wanted to achieve, but for them there were three crucial things that would allow their brand to really be a leading online luxury brand:

  • to improve sales
  • to increase brand loyalty
  • to create lasting customer relationships

The challenges for Net-a-Porter

They identified two important challenges to getting what they wanted.

First of all, there was quite a lot of competition online that wanted to position themselves either as luxury or the best online brand.

Secondly, because of the nature of online shopping, customers tended to bounce around from one brand to another in trying to find the best deal.

Overcoming that was intimately connected with positioning themselves as luxury, which is not based on price, but on quality.

The omnichannel solution

While the usual marketing automation would have worked wonders for email, Net-a-Porter wanted to make sure they achieved their goals efficiently while providing a great customer experience.

That’s why they naturally turned to omnichannel marketing.
First, they set up their approach to include three distinct channels:

  • their mobile app/social network to keep customers inside their ecosystem
  • email marketing to make sure they follow-up on customer behavior on their store
  • ad retargeting to catch visitors who abandoned their site before buying

Perhaps the most famous part of their omnichannel marketing strategy is their mobile app/social network called The Net Set.

Omnichannel marketing strategy in mobile app/social network called The Net Set

This allows users to interact with each other and share images with each other.

However, the app also recognizes the products being shared, finds the closest match in Net-a-Porter’s inventory, then recommend it to users so they can buy it.

But an overlooked part of their customer experience strategy is their emails, such as the welcome email below.

welcome email sent by Net-a-porter

Combined with their mobile app and retargeting ads, they’re able to provide users with an always-available experience.

Also, in order to make sure that customers do get an experience on all of their channels, they often send reminder emails or messages in-app to connect on their other channels.

Net-a-porter omnichannel marketing strategy

Net-a-Porter’s omnichannel results

It’s not difficult to see the results of Net-a-Porter’s fantastic omnichannel marketing strategy.

(Which, by the way, you can use for your online store using Omnisend’s features for free)

In total, as of January this year, Yoox Net-a-Porter had revenues of more than €2.5 billion (more than $3 billion) in 2017 alone, with a 16.9% year-over-year growth.

50% of those sales came from mobile, with the rest comprised of email marketing, retargeting, organic and many other channels.

Order values also increased to €328 (or about $400), which is one of the highest for any online store, beating even the likes of Amazon.

Online retails industry by market positioning

As Net-a-Porter shows, the omnichannel marketing approach really works.

Omnichannel Case Study #2: Mainline Menswear

Opened online in 2004, Mainline Menswear is a British ecommerce business that is focused on the men’s fashion niche.

As with all online retailers, Mainline Menswear found it rather difficult to find footing in the ecommerce space and needed to boost their traffic sales.

Their desired outcome

Two of the most important things for Mainline Menswear were intricately connected, uniquely so for ecommerce stores: traffic and sales.

More specifically, they wanted to increase their sales, and one of the best ways to do that is to increase traffic.

Of course, they didn’t want to fall into the get-any-traffic trap, where they increase any traffic, just not the ones who actually wanted to buy.

They wanted to increase their sales by increasing the amount of actual shoppers who would be more motivated to buy.

The challenges for Mainline Menswear

Besides the understandable challenge of increasing competition from similar brands around the web, Mainline Menswear also realized they couldn’t really reach their customers like they’d want to.

After all, while email marketing boasts some great numbers, it’s also true that everyone is using email marketing.

That means all brands are fighting for the same inbox space, and most are losing this battle.

This understanding of their main challenge—not necessarily low traffic or low sales, but high competition in the same marketing channel—led them to understand what their solution should be:

Omnichannel marketing.

The omnichannel solution

Mainline Menswear decided to try to beat their competition by being more creative and resourceful.

Instead of doing a large, expensive campaign that would get their users’ attention via inbox, they decided to get their attention by using the thing that nearly all of their ideal audience had:

Their mobile phones.

For their Winter Sales (Boxing Day 2013), Mainline Menswear decided to move beyond the standard marketing automation channel and use a combination of coupons/promotions via SMS, retargeting ads, and cart abandonment emails.

Mainline Menswear email example

Instead of using just one great channel (email), they decided to stack it up with a few channels.

But they also decided to make it a seamless campaign, so that users would have a great, connected experience on all 3 channels.

Mainline Menswear’s omnichannel results

On Boxing Day (December 26) 2013, Mainline Menswear decided to send a sales campaign via SMS, instead of the usual email campaigns they often did.

They began to see results immediately.

For their Winter 2013 Sales campaign, Mainline Menswear saw:

  • a 45% increase in direct traffic
  • a 27% rise in overall traffic
  • an amazing 93% boost in their mobile traffic

Their sales also increased significantly, with their campaign having led to one of the busiest days in Mainline Menswear’s entire history.

This because the rise in quality traffic allowed their email marketing and retargeting to kick into high gear.

Not only that, but utilizing the omnichannel approach lowered the average customer acquisition cost, and it’s an approach they’ve utilized repeatedly since.

Biggest Takeaways

Using omnichannel, you get to provide users, shoppers and customers with a unified experience.

This not only leads to better user engagement, but also (as you can see from the above case studies) better sales and brand awareness.

Omnichannel marketing will allow you to:

  • Seamlessly integrate different channels
  • Provide users with a unified experience
  • More easily control all your channels
  • Improve your ROI
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Build a long-term, sustainable business
  • In short, omnichannel marketing will allow you to take your online store from a good business to a powerful, sales-driven business that can establish and grow its customer base consistently.

By being omnipresent on the channels that your customers are the most comfortable with, and getting your entire brand behind creating an omnichannel experience, you will be able to give your customers a level of service that will set you apart from your competition.

It’s the only approach Amazon and other big players use, and it’s available for you right now, whenever you’re ready.

By being omnipresent on the channels that your customers are the most comfortable with, and getting your entire brand behind creating an omnichannel experience, you will be able to give your customers a level of service that will set you apart from your competition.

When in doubt, there is always a great omnichannel marketing software to help you out.

It’s the only approach Amazon and other big players use, and it’s available for you right now, whenever you’re ready.

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Whitney Blankenship

Sr. Content Marketing Manager for Omnisend. When not writing awesome content, Whitney is reading up on the latest in digital marketing, ecommerce, and social media trends. Obsessed with pop culture, art, and metal. Powered by coffee. Fastest Googler in the West.