Written by

Candace Gerlach


23rd April 2022



To anyone who doesn’t have ‘marketing’ in their job title, omnichannel can feel like another jargony word that means.. well.. not much at all. 

And then you’ve got the added complexity of wondering what the difference is between integrated and omnichannel marketing. The answer is – not a lot on the face of it but quite a lot under the surface. And the differences are definitely worth noting.

Let’s break it down further.

Integrated marketing relates to the way you communicate your brand story across multiple channels so that it’s consistent and compelling. It’s not necessarily the strategy you lay out at the beginning of the process. It’s more about ensuring everything ties together across your paid, owned, and earned channels. From your website – to your social media pages – to your PR activity. It should all come together seamlessly to give people clarity on what you stand for and what you have to offer.

Depending on your budget, this would be a mix of online and offline marketing and advertising. Or you may be investing solely in digital marketing because that’s the most effective way to connect with your target audience and convert them into customers.

Integrated marketing requires measurement but the nuance here is that you are measuring the performance of each channel on your marketing plan. You need to have tracking in place, a way to consolidate learnings and make informed decisions, but the focus is on the strength of the channel rather than the customer journey. It’s worth noting that your messaging, visual branding, and creative approach – all play a role in the success of the individual channel performance and your overall objectives.

Omnichannel is about considering the customer journey and optimising the brand experience across all touchpoints – including brick-and-mortar locations, events, mobile and online. It requires data and technology, there’s no doubt that. But that shouldn’t be a daunting prospect. Yes, you will need to review your in-house capabilities and adopt new technology if the infrastructure isn’t there. But there are so many CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools out there now, each with different functionalities to suit your business needs, with varying price tags. You don’t have to be a global enterprise to get this right!

With the use of technology, you can store customer and prospect data, track customer interactions and start to build relationships. It enables you to harness every opportunity and provide a personalised brand experience that we, as humans living in the 21st Century, now expect. Not only does omnichannel make your marketing communications more targeted and personal, but it also enables you to use data more effectively and in turn deliver a better ROI.

So.. integrated and omnichannel marketing are similar in many ways. In fact, we’d say you can’t have an omnichannel strategy that isn’t integrated! But you could have an integrated approach that isn’t omnichannel. Time for a drink I think.

The thing to consider is that people will want to interact with your brand in multiple ways and by taking an omnichannel approach, you can enhance the experience and give them what they want. People expect your marketing communications to reflect up-to-date knowledge of their preferences, interactions, and purchases. Omnichannel delivers on this demand by helping brands present a consistent, informed message that offers a seamless experience through multiple channels; which helps to build positive perceptions, customer loyalty, and retention. 

We’re about to bring this to life further by looking at a brand that does omnichannel oh-so-well. Don’t be put off by the magnitude of this brand. Yes, it’s a global success, but omnichannel isn’t just for the big guys and girls out there. The example just so happens to nicely demonstrate the power of an omnichannel strategy and how brands use it to fuel their success.

IKEA – a real-life example of omnichannel excellence.

Back in 1943, a 17-year-old Swedish guy called Ingvar Kamprad opened his first tiny brick and mortar store. Now IKEA counts 424 physical stores in 52 countries around the world.

If this was just a physical store chain, the world probably wouldn’t know IKEA as it does now. It’s a huge success but its adoption of forward-thinking digital strategies and customer-centricity, makes it a brand that people can’t get enough of.

In 2017, IKEA launched what they call an ‘online shopping interactive catalogue’, as well as a shopping virtual assistant web application.

This is so much more than an eCommerce store that consists of a catalogue, a number of buy buttons, and a checkout page. It has a gift registry app, which is smart, taking into account that many young people will want to shop for wedding or homecoming gifts there.

Italso has a planning tool for those who are decorating a house or an apartment. Their customer service team is also on hand to help you – and for free. If that is not a customer-oriented strategy, then what is?

They have a blog and forum full of design ideas and entire projects that use IKEA products. 

The online catalogue with the brick and mortar stores, are united with an inventory management system because every product page shows the physical store nearby where the item is in stock (or out of stock, that also happens).

IKEA is present across all major social networks. Their Instagram feed is full of brilliant design ideas and they give product information too, so you can easily locate the item you liked in the catalogue and buy it. There and then.

They also have an extensive mobile app. It has a shopping list app integrated, a barcode scanner for easier navigation in a physical store, a place where you can register for the IKEA Family club, a special offer page, and an online catalogue. You can also search by photo. Which has been used by members of our team regularly. We like this. A lot.

We also love the IKEA brand and its approach to marketing. You can really feel the brand’s personality across every touchpoint. They don’t take themselves too seriously but they do enough to build credibility within the category. They’re heavily weighted towards Instagram which feels like an obvious place for them to play given they’re a visual brand and their target audience is there. Here’s a link to a campaign we particularly like. IKEA has worked with a normal, down-to-earth family to really bring its value and offering to life. They don’t have to talk about product benefits because it’s done for them in this story. It’s authentic, it’s real, it’s credible and it’s heartwarming.

If you want some help planning out your marketing strategy we’d love to help.

Book a call with our founder, Candace, and let’s talk!