As consumer channel preferences shift and additional marketing touchpoints become available to marketers, reaching customers and prospects through the channels they prefer has become more difficult. Effective marketers need to employ programs that identify the best customers and prospects, identify their requests and ultimately deliver an appropriate message.
Trends in media consumption indicate shifts in consumer channel preferences, but good marketers look beyond the surface trends to truly customize their contact strategies. For example, email is the most preferred messaging channel across all age groups. Drilling down further, however, reveals that older groups continue to look to traditional media, such as television and newspapers, while younger consumers rely on mobile phones for receiving messages.
Today’s marketing has shifted from the use of one channel to the identification of nuanced consumer preferences and delivering messages to those customized channels. A single campaign might employ email across all age groups peppered with direct mail and television ads for older consumers and mobile messages to the younger demographic.
Customizing a cross-channel strategy to the preferences of particular consumer segments can improve loyalty and relationships, as well as return on marketing dollars. But the myriad channels available is challenging when it comes to navigating and coordinating a cross-channel strategy. Marketers can overcome these challenges by developing a deep understanding of consumers’ channel preferences and the unique regulatory environment surrounding each.
Finding and Implementing Preferences
Both consumer-provided data and in-depth market research can provide insights into likely channel preferences. Ask your customers how they want to be reached and pay attention to the touchpoints through which they engage with your company. In the absence of direct interaction with your target customers, a partnership with a market research or data company can provide insights into likely channel preferences on a geographic level.
When coordinating a consumer marketing campaign, it also is critical to understand the unique regulatory environment surrounding each marketing channel, particularly in the constantly evolving online space. Marketers should be very aware of industry self-regulatory guidelines around data privacy and consumer notice and choice when developing the marketing program. Restrictions on the type of data that can be collected, how that data can be used or the level of permission needed from consumers vary across channels.
For example, email and mobile are both permission-based channels that require marketers to consider opt-in and opt-out requirements. Additionally, while consumers are easier to reach online, marketers should be sensitive to the perception of a “big brother” feeling that can accompany reaching consumers through personalized online channels and take steps to reduce the risk of alienating their customer base.
As channel preferences and marketing budgets shift from print, direct mail and broadcast to email, search, mobile and display, the most savvy and successful marketers will be those who understand what consumers want and can effectively navigate the complicated landscape of changing consumer preferences and expectations.