Your customers live in a sea of distraction and over saturation. Is your marketing the steady ship on a clear course? Or are you more like the foam that breaks on the shore and then dissipates never to be seen again?
The answer to these questions circles back to your vision of your company's marketing. Do you have a discrete, tactical answer for every different marketing channel OR is there an overarching strategy that guides all your marketing actions? Quite frankly, there are some businesses that use multichannel marketing as an excuse for fragmented and sloppy marketing execution.
The first key to a good multichannel strategy is to get your organization to think differently: make "insight over information" one of your slogans.
Here is one practical way to get them thinking in that direction. Ask your important staff (which hopefully is all of them!) to look for patterns in customer feedback across all channels.
To help the process, create a simple log sheet to help uncover key patterns. Each log should contain columns to note the channel used for the interaction; type of customer interaction; resolution (a simple positive or negative will do in most cases); and a space for comments. You can also add any other columns that are specifically relevant for your business or particular media format. Using this log helps re-train your organization's brain power the right way: instead of seeing each customer interaction as a discrete event, your staff begins to look for patterns that can be used to improve customer experience. By tracking channels, you'll also see other trends emerge that will help you drill down and focus your efforts.
(By the way, recognizing patterns is also helpful in a negative sense: you won't overreact to isolated incidents that are not really relevant to your overall strategy and execution).
Okay, so insight is great, but what do you do with it? In some cases, creating scripts, or at least guidelines, for particular kinds of customer interactions will be possible. You can also look for ways to broaden messages that were successful on one channel and test it on another. For example, you should be tracking Twitter activity by type of message. So if posting a link to a certain kind of article has consistently led to an uptick in response, you need to be using similar articles in your email newsletter. Another example: if your Pinterest account has a visual that has led to a loads of traffic, that is a graphic that you need to consider using across all your channels on a somewhat regular basis.
So looking for insight and patterns will give you strategies, scripts, and guidelines to transfer successes across channels. But an inevitable question arises when you start talking about using similar, or even identical, content across multiple channels. At what point does this go from being a "smart, stay-on-message" process to a "stale, you're-being-a-pest" approach?
It can be argued that there is a fine line here, but that is probably a little overblown. If you are going to lean one way, go towards staying on message. Your customers and prospects will tell you by their actions and responses if you are getting stale and as long as you are tracking and measuring, you won't go too far off course. (Remember also to take off the sales hat regularly, and give them free, valuable content. Valuable content providers are never in danger of being seen as pests).
Setting Specific Goals and Themes
Once you've discovered patterns and then made a commitment to stay on message, the final step is to put it altogether in a framework. What follows is a guide to help you get started.
-Have a quarterly marketing theme or offer: Using the data collected, select one basic marketing message that your entire organization can rally around and push forward whenever they see an opportunity. Commit to a certain number of messages in every channel revolving around your theme or offer.
- Twitter - if you send 4 tweets a day, make sure at least one is dedicated to the theme
- YouTube - commit to making at least one video that revolves around the theme
- Email - make your feature articles in your email newsletters cover that subject
- PPC - consider a short, track-able campaign highlighting the theme or offer
- Blog - creatively amplify the message and committing to a certain number of posts on your topic
One word of caution: there is a difference between being consistent and being a "one-note" bore. This is where a commitment to doing a certain percentage of messages in each channel that matches your current marketing theme comes in to play. The variation will actually serve to highlight your message, while the commitment will keep you on track and executing properly.
-Write the scripts: Give your staff (and yourself) the tools they need to be successful. This means providing guidance on interacting with customers and prospects in each particular channel. This can be as simple as providing those who tweet on the company account examples of what works and general themes you want pushed. Or it can be as detailed as a phone or email script for dealing with a particular kind of customer interaction. Consider also creating a blog style guide that includes a list of acceptable topics for posts.
-Friendly Competition: One of the most underutilized assets of most businesses is the creative power of the staff. Many organizations have hardworking and productive people, but these employees are never asked to go beyond their normal tasks and be part of the fun of generating creative marketing ideas. Here are a few ideas for changing that culture by using a little competition:
- For Facebook and/or Pinterest, have a contest to see who can come up with the visual that will garner the most clicks, comments, and Likes.
- For Twitter and/or Google+, give a prize out for who comes up with the best idea for increasing followers or circles.
- If you have front-line staff that has interaction with customers, have a contest among them for that can get the most email or SMS subscribers.
Once you start looking for ways to create fun incentives, you start seeing them everywhere.
Summary: Avoiding Multichannel Chaos
To keep on track with your message and marketing execution, remember to:
- Analyze and track customer interaction
- Create your strategy for all your channels around this analysis
- Commit to a certain number of messages per channel and find creative ways to deliver
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