Forget about managing your relationship with customers. Today, they manage the relationship with you! This new fact becomes real in every dialogue or customer interaction you have.
When your customer or prospect finds the information they were looking for – or were ready for – they feel satisfied and empowered. On the other hand, if they can’t put their finger on the right information they feel confused and frustrated, and rightfully take it out on the last place that didn’t deliver satisfaction – your website, your email, your direct mail, your call center, or on social media.
These dialogues happen at many touchpoints or on many channels – from the first visit to a retail store or the website, and dozens of other places, as well – both online and offline. Making multichannel marketing work means having a contact and messaging strategy for key customer segments and every one of the key touchpoints they are likely to use. You need an understanding of what makes those individual dialogues successful. For multichannel marketing to be manageable, process is critical, as the number of components will be large and will grow exponentially as you experiment with social and other digital strategies.
A must for multichannel, multi-segment programs is tight integration between creative strategists, marketing analysts, and the marketing technology team. Each marketing solution must be collaboratively designed with strong process management across each of these competency areas – and the creative design of campaigns is where this integration comes together, creating the moments of truth with your customers.
Milestones on the Multichannel Roadmap
1. Building a Journey Map for Your Customer and Prospect Segments
Before creative development begins, start by mapping successful outcomes for each customer segment. What actions do you want prospects or customers to take as they move through their relationship with you? What channels are they likely to prefer? What will define success for each type of dialogue?
2. Establish a Clear Creative Development Process
Build a campaign brief detailing the objectives for each channel. Multichannel campaign flowcharts that represent the interaction of each medium help everyone understand how the pieces work together. Make sure they include flows for response management, data capture and measurement. Make sure the creative design team understands the complete view of creative, segment, response and measurement strategy across channels so it can be smoothly implemented.
3. Develop a Response Management Implementation Plan
Absolutely critical to the success of a creative messaging plan is tightly-defined response management. Consumers may be able to respond in multiple ways to any given campaign, and you’ll want to make sure those responses can be captured and measured appropriately. Assume that in many cases, microsites may be needed, and data capture for analysis and return to the database must be coordinated as a part of the whole.
4. Personalization Management
Use customer insights wherever possible to create relevant messaging. Personalization by segment or audience group requires a segment messaging and contact plan be designed. Consider adding personalization to the testing matrix to establish the value or lift of personalization for each campaign.
A critical success factor for multichannel campaigns is creative asset management to drive consistent multiple versions and variable messaging through the final execution and response channels.
5. Automation: Nurturing and Triggered Messaging Plans
Often campaigns need to be piloted to prove their effectiveness, but throughout the planning process you should consider how your messaging will move from a one-time pilot to an ongoing communications stream. This is ultimately the best way to manage highly complex communications to multi-segment audiences.
6. Execution and Production Management
Managing multichannel campaigns manually is complex. Unfortunately there are no silver bullets for complete automation. Campaign execution tools today are integrating across channels more effectively then just a couple of years back, but coordinating social and multiple digital efforts can be challenging.
Evaluate the capabilities of each execution channel at your disposal. Can you utilize mobile apps or print-on-demand? Can you automate and streamline the implementation process of individual email campaigns? Evaluate the capability of your email provider to host microsites and/or social posting and identify a proof of concept pilot where these capabilities might be tested.
7. Test and Learn
Each of your campaigns or campaign elements should have a learning objective to build towards an ultimate roll-out to an automated multichannel program. Just because coordinating the multichannel campaign is complicated, doesn’t mean you should skimp on incorporating a testing and measurement approach into the campaign design.
Always think through the post-campaign analytics at the same time you’re doing creative and messaging development. If this is an afterthought you’ll be forever stuck in pilot mode and less able to streamline and automate to consistently improve your results and ROI.