7 Steps towards Personally Talking to Millions of Customers at Once
Your customer is walking into the store with a smartphone in hand, validating the store associate’s advice by looking up product reviews and recommended items, comparing prices across brands, calling customer service for help, and checking discount coupons received via mail or SMS, all while physically browsing the store. Given the circumstances, as a store owner or marketer, what would be the most effective channels to communicate to your customers?
If you don’t know the answer, the only person who can tell you is the customer. Simply asking customers how they want to be contacted and then monitoring those preferred channels is only the first step. Customer preference evolves over time and if there are only 100 or 1,000 customers, it’s still feasible to ask them individually about how things might have changed. But what if you have 10,000 or 100,000 or 1,000,000 or even 10,000,000 customers? What does it take to create a personalised multichannel mix for each customer at a scale of 1 million? Here are 7 steps to follow to create a successful multichannel communication.
- Optimise a single view of the customer
The first step is to make sure your data strategy is properly manageable by integrating the data to create a single view of the customer. The point is to implement a platform that provides a single version of the truth, that enables you to not only remain updated on the latest conversations with your customers, but also creates a way for you to track their interaction with the brand. This interaction can be analysed so that relevant messages can be sent at the right time.
- Gear up for contextual segmentation
Marketing segmentation has evolved into a very sophisticated science. With a powerful single customer view platform, you can move beyond traditional market segmentation to true one-to-one personalised marketing in a real-time context. The process of segmentation should also continue to evolve by combining demographic information with behavioural insights (e.g. features that are of interest) and key concepts that influence customer behaviour. As marketers, we should stop segmenting markets based on traits or stereotypical, traditional behaviour and instead begin with “What problems do this set of segment face” and “how can we solve them”. In other words, we have to look at context or situation and start creating segments around those. For example, Sam is 65 years old but is a triathlon biker. The traditional demographic model would have assumed that Sam is not interested in buying a triathlon bike, shoes or accessories, or triathlon travel packages. In reality a customer is a dynamic being and therefore we must treat our marketing campaigns as such. In order to adapt to this consumer reality, our segmentation should be redesigned not to fit particular traits of a group of people, but according to their motivation and behaviour.
- Recognise that a customer responds differently to each channel
It’s not just about a message or offer that you have to personalise. In order to increase the response rate, you have to communicate through customer’s preferred channels. If your customer does not like to speak with you on the phone and has asked you to send an email, what chance do you think you have to convince them to buy if you keep using telesales? It is highly likely that they will turn you down at hello. You have to understand that customers have their own ways to consume information, for example, telesales might work for some customers while others might prefer receiving information via email or text messages.
- Create dynamic content using customer’s rules
Treatments, rewards, and personalised offers for individual customers are possible through event triggers defined under customer’s rules. For example, a reminder SMS message sent to mobile subscribers to recharge before credit runs out with an offer for bonus credit based on their subscription plan and usage behaviour. The customer’s rules also include the choice of channel and timing under different sets of circumstances.
- Make it responsive
You send an email to customers. If it bounces, you send them direct mail, and if customers open the email, then you give them a call to follow up. That’s how you make your channel responsive. By tagging all your communications together and using multiple channels to provide information to customers when one of them fails, you can significantly increase response rate.
- Track results across multichannel
Response through each communication channel helps you to identify channels of customers’ choice and track their behaviour. Response data should feedback to the marketing data mart on a daily basis. It is also important to note that tracking performance on an unresponsive channel is equally as important as the channel with the highest response rate. This is because no-response data gives you a clue for a ‘not’ to-do list, which helps you to narrow down the choice of effective channels, thus minimising the marketing expenses while maximising the response rate. And since customer behaviour is dynamic and evolving over time, a fully integrated customer response will bring in new insights and keep track of your customer’s behaviour.
- Automate campaign management and production process
Managing multichannel communication on a regular basis is a continuous battle with a huge cost, if it is not being automated. To minimise time and cost for campaign management and the production process, you need a strong customer analytics team with an automated platform to enable you to create achieving multiple marketing campaigns.
With powerful analytical tools and strong business analytical skill, you can understand how each customer responds to multichannel. This applies regardless of how many customers you have. The need to effectively manage multichannel is critical for your competitiveness. You can design the most creative campaigns or send the best offers to your customers, but without the right channel and relevancy, your response rate is by chance, and marketing success is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of customer’s choice.
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