Customer contact strategy is the next important frontier for online marketers

Your customers today seamlessly move between a range of electronic channels, engaging with your business through social media, display ads, search, email and many other points of contact as they go.

May 28, 2012

By Richard Mullins, director at Acceleration

Your customers today seamlessly move between a range of electronic channels, engaging with your business through social media, display ads, search, email and many other points of contact as they go. If your business can’t keep up with them, you are by no means alone.

Most brands today still operate their online marketing in silos, with little connection between the different channels they use to communicate with and market to their customers. They drive campaigns in isolation, not looking at the ways that the same customers have interacted with them across different channels.

Often, different teams are responsible for managing different channels, and customer data from different touch-points and systems are not consolidated into a single view of the customer. Most marketers are not looking at the overall story of customer conversation across all channels, but are instead looking at each chapter in the story separately.

This means that most businesses are losing out on opportunities to boost the overall performance of their marketing by tracking customer engagement at each point of contract and then tailoring content at each point to the customer’s need in that context. We should no longer assume that a customer had a single point of entry into our business, but rather that he or she followed a process of conversion that involved a number of steps across multiple channels.

Thus, if you start looking at interactions across all these channels in a holistic manner, you can drive better return on investment from every customer contact point you use. You can begin to understand how each touch-point contributes to a conversion, and deliver the correct content for the stage that the customer is at in the lifecycle at each point of contact.

Whereas what used to matter to us what that we were consistent in our messaging at each touch-point, what is really important now is that we engage with the customer in a manner that is relevant to his or her context. We should understand the conversion funnel and where the opportunities lie to acquire and influence customers.

For example, if a customer searched for a product and visited the Web site without buying the item, the next ad we serve should be a remarketing ad with a discount or some other incentive geared towards getting the customer to convert. But if the customer bought a product after the initial search, the next ad should be geared towards up-selling or retention.

Getting this right isn’t easy. It depends on putting the right workflow and technology in place to track and analyse customers across a range of channels so that we can understand content and engagement options for each channel and how it relates to the broader strategy.

It demands that we put processes in place to deliver the right content to the customer based on their engagement at a given time and touch-point. Customer contact strategy are emerging as one of the most important aspects of our online marketing as we try to manage marketing across a growing choice of channels.