I have a friend who almost always refuses to answer her phone, and she’s pretty spotty on email, too. Text her or send a Facebook message, and you get an immediate response. And when we’re able to break from our busy schedules and actually sit down face-to-face, it’s so great.
She didn’t have to explain her preferred communication methods to me, it was pretty easy to figure them out. Our friendship isn’t any less genuine because we don’t talk on the phone, in fact, our Facebook message history is lively and quite hilarious.
If I chose only to communicate with her by email, I doubt we’d have much of a relationship. It would be totally one-sided – I might as well be talking to a wall.
Do you see where this analogy is going?
We have the opportunity to build solid relationships with all of our customers, and the best strategy we have for building those relationships is well-deployed, on-point communication. But how do we know where and how to communicate with our customers?Our messages are best deployed when we’re using the channels our customers prefer and respond to. Click To Tweet
#1 – There’s No “Standard” Mix
Just like our relationships, your business is unique in the channel mix that works for you and your customers. Maybe an email newsletter works great in a connected workplace or industry, but print might still be the way to go if the majority of your readers are lacking regular access to internet or computer knowledge.
Determining the right placements for your communication strategy requires work in figuring out where your customers are, and most importantly (so we’ll bold it) where they are most willing to interact with your message.
For example, email is nearly ubiquitous (meaning: it’s probably where your customers are), but it’s also very overused. In other words, are they willing to respond to your message here, or are you just another swipe into the trash?
Let’s try another one of a slightly different flavor: your website. Again, most customers have access to the web, but have you created a place online where your customers are motivated to interact with you, respond to your offers, and put their trust in you?
#2 – Finding the Right Mix For You – The Testing Process
Start with your customers. How do they reach out to you? What are their actions telling you about their preferences? If you’ve already established the basics like a website, inbound email, and phone number, examine which of those channels are being used most often, and consider building upon what’s bringing you success today.
Figuring out where you should be usually requires investing resources in establishing a presence, testing different strategies, and analyzing what’s working.
As you’re testing different communication channels, even the poor performers help inform where you should be. If email does poorly, but Sponsored Posts on Facebook do great, you’ve learned something. Additionally, if one segment responds well to email, and another gives you great feedback on a printed piece, you’ve learned more.
Try to avoid reading too much into a single test, too. Give each channel a fair shot at being a star. And while data is delicious, it can’t always tell you the whole picture – talking to your customers and gathering their honest feedback is critical to finding the channel mix that builds those relationships.
#3 – Be Willing to Bend
Being open to these results means you’re willing to listen to the voice and actions of your customers. Forcing a poor performing channel not only means wasted resources, but also risks alienating or annoying your customers, no matter your intention. On the other hand, ignoring a channel that works (or could work) means missed opportunity to build better, stronger relationships with your customers.
Bonus Tip: #4 – Ease Into New Channels
Don’t feel like you need to be everywhere, right away. It’s tempting to want a big list of social network icons on your home page, or multiple methods on your contact page, but simply setting up profiles or phone numbers or chat services doesn’t make those things effective.
The value is in developing a sound strategy and purpose for each channel, and a solid implementation plan, which includes the resources you need to give that channel a fair shot at success. Skipping over these important steps in favor of being everywhere, won’t get you…uh…anywhere.
Overwhelmed? Don’t Be!
There’s an endless list of ways you could be communicating with customers and prospects. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged by all we’re not doing.
Find a great creative partner who will work to understand your business goals and can help you design and execute a manageable plan for implementing the right communication strategy.