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Posted on • Originally published at strapi.io

Single Source vs. Multichannel vs. Omnichannel Publishing

Consumers have a variety of opportunities to engage with content these days—social media sites, e-commerce sites, SMS messaging, just to name a few. It’s a necessity to make your content easy to find on a variety of channels and easy to use on a variety of devices, but consumers also have a growing expectancy for content to transition seamlessly between channels.

To determine the efficiency of your current publishing methods, let’s first define a few terms.

Single-source content is content from one or more sources collected in a central repository or content hub. Content hubs centralize content in one location making it easier to manage, update, and share. Content pulled from the hub can then be published in various formats through different channels, and changes made to the original content are propagated to all output sources.

Multichannel and omnichannel publishing strategies both use multiple channels to reach potential customers, and it’s not always easy to tell the difference between the two. Multichannel publishing is a content delivery method that distributes a single piece of source content to multiple formats for distribution on multiple channels. This helps you maximize reach through increased brand awareness and create more leads.

Omnichannel publishing aims to create a user experience that flows seamlessly across all channels and devices. It links every stage of a consumers’ experience, whether they are consuming content in an email or on social media, using a desktop, smartphone, or tablet.

A headless CMS like Strapi acts as a single source of content for your organization from which content can be assembled and published to as many channels as you choose. Strapi is a content-only backend repository that allows you to create content and provide it as data over an API to any of your choice of frontend technology.

In this article, I will provide an overview of single-source, multichannel, and omnichannel publishing, then discuss how a content hub can improve the reach of mobile platforms via multi- and omnichannel methods.

Working with Omnichannel and Multichannel in Tandem

Multichannel marketing gives you the opportunity to increase sales by reaching more customers in different places. It targets content directly to the reader using separate and independent channels.

Multichannel Content Distribution

To demonstrate the concept of multichannel distribution, let’s look at a fictional clothing store in a retail scenario.

Fashion Trends, an online clothing store, is promoting a new fashion line. Visitors to its website are met with pop-ups announcing the new line, and it features prominently in the hero section of the homepage. Subscribers to its email list receive promotion information for the new line in the weekly newsletter, while in its small brick-and-mortar boutique store it places full-length banners and sales associates hand out flyers.

Fashion Trends also sells products through its Facebook store and on Amazon. It runs sponsored ads on both websites promoting the new line and shares information about the line on its Facebook page and other social media channels.

Using this multichannel strategy, Fashion Trends is reaching customers on several channels including its website, physical store, email, social media, and marketplaces like Amazon.

But a multichannel experience doesn’t offer an integrated experience. Customers can’t purchase an item online and pick it up in-store, online discounts may not apply in-store, and if they move from the online store to the Facebook store, they’ll have to re-enter account details and reload items to their shopping cart.

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An Omnichannel Content Approach

An omnichannel content approach is about unifying all content channels so that they work in parallel to enhance and personalize the user’s experience. Any progress the user makes on one channel remains as she moves to other channels.

Using the previous scenario with an omnichannel approach, Fashion Trends engages with the customer through the channels mentioned—website, physical store, email, social media, and external marketplaces. But here’s the difference.

Let’s say a first-time visitor to the website receives a ten percent discount through an email opt-in, receiving the discount QR code via email. The customer realizes the boutique is nearby and drops in to see the new line face-to-face and try on anything she might like.

In the store, the customer falls in love with a few pieces from the line and heads to the cashier to purchase. Remembering the discount, the customer presents her mobile phone with the QR code to the cashier. The cashier scans the QR code, applying the discount to the entire purchase.

Whereas the multichannel strategy focused on getting the product line in front of as many people as possible, the omnichannel strategy unified the customer’s experience, allowing her to use multiple channels together.

How Strapi Headless CMS Acts as Single-Source Publishing Tool

Manually managing content for multiple channels can be a time-consuming, error-prone process that results in inconsistent messaging and duplicated content. With Strapi headless CMS, you can manage and publish your content to several channels from a single source.

Instead of trying to wrangle scattered content from across the organization, a headless CMS allows you to organize your content into one central location, where it’s available to authors, marketers, developers, and anyone else who needs it. Data is unified into a single content hub and available to serve multiple channels.

Marketers and editors can focus on content while developers can focus on presentation. Editing is easy and done only once to the source document, reducing the potential for error. Updates to the source content are updated on all output channels ensuring consistency.

In our multichannel fashion store scenario, a product description stored in the content hub need only be created once and then used in the in-store banner, social media promotion, website hero section, and email newsletter. Updates to the product description at the source will be reflected in all the channels where that product description is being used.

A headless CMS solution also supports an omnichannel strategy. Strapi stores content as structured components that can be used independently or combined to cater to a user’s preference or capabilities to deliver a better optimized and more personalized omnichannel experience.

Reaching Mobile as Platform

The smartphone propelled an explosion of mobile device use and most digital content consumption now occurs through a mobile device. By 2022, the time users spend on mobile apps is expected to increase to 227 minutes per day, up from 215 minutes in 2020.

As conventional websites take a backseat to mobile apps and social networks, consumers expect mobile content to deliver a faster, optimized experience that’s easy to navigate and simple to use. But there are a few challenges with publishing content to mobile platforms.

Content created and published through traditional content management systems is difficult to adapt for other digital platforms and usually requires creating a separate system for each output. This presents a problem for mobile content as creators have to reach users on several platforms (Android and iOS) and devices (smartphones, tablets or smartwatches, or other IoT devices). Creating and managing several content systems for each platform and device can quickly devolve into a digital nightmare.

As technology becomes more advanced, it’s not guaranteed that future mobile devices will look and operate like the ones we have now. Content needs to be created and stored in a way that ensures you can still reach consumers on future devices.

How Omnichannel and Multichannel Increase Reach on Mobile Platforms

Mobile has made communication easier than ever, and these days nobody leaves home without a mobile phone. At the beginning of 2021, over ninety percent of the 4.66 billion active global internet users accessed the internet via a mobile device. As mobile growth increases, omnichannel and multichannel strategies can help you maximize your reach on mobile platforms to find new customers.

Effectively integrating multiple mobile channels can help more customers discover your brand or product. Push notifications, email campaigns, SMS messaging, and over-the-top (OTT) messengers like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger allow real-time communication with customers and can increase engagement levels.

Email is still one of the most multifaceted methods of online communication and by connecting email to other mobile services you can create a fully immersive brand experience. With an open rate of ninety-eight percent, SMS is still one of the most effective means of communication, but OTT messenger apps like WhatsApp generate three times more daily traffic than SMS, creating more opportunities for communication and interaction with customers.

Analytical insights gathered from mobile platforms help you better understand your audience. User analytics in apps help you gain insights on app usage and other metrics so that you can tweak and optimize your content strategy based on the type of customer attracted to your brand and the metrics that have the most impact on customer reach, experience, or engagement.

Connecting with consumers through multiple mobile channels creates more opportunities for sales. Consumers can purchase what they want when they want using whatever channel they choose. Being able to start a task via one channel and completing it on another retains audience focus and interest and allows users to start their journey from anywhere and enjoy the same personalized experience.

Conclusion

A single content hub backed by a headless CMS provides the flexibility to merge multichannel and omnichannel methods. Strapi headless CMS lets you manage content at the component level to give you more control over your content.

Content structured into small modular blocks can be combined to create original content structures and reused across multiple content types. Blocks of content can be assembled and published through multiple channels and remain available in the content hub in formats ready to respond to customers interacting through omnichannel experiences.

Whether using multichannel, omnichannel, or a combination of the two, you can use Strapi to create, manage, and publish content from a single source wherever it’s needed.

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