May 11, 2017
With customers in the driver’s seat, they are setting the pace of when, where and how they interact with a brand. It’s forced brands to be in all places at once and available anytime. We’ve all come to expect a full level of service whether online or in person. And this expectation is driving brands to accelerate getting their message out via multiple channels, respond quickly to incoming inquiries and react to social in ways that can sometimes overlap and conflict with a message that is already posted somewhere else. This is especially true when you consider all the departments in your organization that have different touchpoints with your customers, whether it’s marketing, customer service, sales, product marketing or your PR team.
With all these factors, how can you be sure to deliver a consistent and timely message to your customers, no matter the channel? Excellent question, if I do say so myself.
Let’s look at a few steps you can take to avoid dueling marketing plans and communications so you can ultimately gain customer trust and engagement with your customers.
Align teams that touch the customer
It’s important for organizations to develop a customer-centric, omni-channel strategy and align every department that touches the customer under a chief marketing officer (CMO). The role of the CMO is to bridge the communication among all the teams so that there is clear visibility into plans, execution and touchpoints across channels.
Think of it this way, if you’re planning a party and have gathered a committee to handle different areas of the party from food, to dress code, to the DJ, to drinks and the schedule of activities—t here are a lot of moving parts that need to align so the guests feel prepared to attend and welcome once they arrive. If the person in charge of food is planning a menu of chicken wings and spare ribs, while the person in charge of dress code tells all the guests to come in “formal, black-tie” attire, you will likely have disgruntled guests who will either get their fancy clothes messy with sauce or go hungry to avoid any such incident.
Not having someone oversee all the elements of a plan and how they go together can cause confusion and frustration to those you are trying to have a meaningful connection with. When you’re thinking about your marketing plans, know the touchpoints, ensure they are consistent and make sure all departments are aligned.
Map the customer journey
Mapping the customer journey can help you visualize their experience across channels and ensure communications are timed appropriately and relevant to your customers. By anticipating possible actions by your customer along each step of the journey map, you can create the right content and offers.
The steps of your customer journey should be personalized to the needs and preferences of your customers. For example, a customer who has only purchased items on sale pricing should be approached differently than a customer who values prestige and luxury brands. Customers who respond better to email than social media or direct mail should have a journey with more email touch points.
Your customer journey should also be dynamic, with each next step of the journey dependent on what actions (or lack of actions) were taken by your customer in the previous step. Mapping out the customer journey helps you keep customers engaged at all times, ensuring they aren’t driving around in circles—or worse—left standing at a dead-end. The next step of their experience must always make sense and be personalized for maximum effectiveness (and profitability).
Invest in marketing technology
Truth is, it’s just not feasible to manage any of this manually through the crutch of a spreadsheet. There are too many variables that affect even the best laid out plans, let alone how you react to the changes in a way that keeps you on course while keeping your customers happy. When communications go out to customers from different departments, keeping the customer experience consistent is nearly impossible— unless each department’s efforts are transparent and shared.
To make the shift to omni-channel and consistent customer experience you have to coordinate a lot of moving parts and have the right technology in place to support your efforts. That’s why you need to invest in marketing technology to help you control and coordinate workflow across departments, coordinate marketing calendars, better allocate resources, manage budgets, collect data and track results, pinpoint your most effective efforts, monitor quality, automate and streamline approval processes, share and repurpose assets, and assign responsibilities for transparency. Wow, imagine doing all that successfully with a spreadsheet!
Hope these steps help provide you some direction and ideas on how you can align your teams in a way that supports all your marketing efforts and allows your customers to have a seamless, consistent and meaningful relationship with your brand.
Written by: Sherri Kolomayz, Digital Campaign Manager