Customer Engagement

How to choose the right channel to connect with customers

A great customer experience is the sum of all your parts. Every channel on which customers interact with your brand contributes to their overall experience. That’s why it’s important you understand what channels to use and when to use them.

The modern marketer should have a customer-first mindset. Understanding your customers’ needs and knowing where they spend their time is crucial. It will help your customer through the noise and narrow your focus on the channels and tactics that really work.

Marketing channels offer customers the chance to interact with their favorite brands. But every channel serves a different purpose.

With a range of channels to choose from, customers use different channels to achieve different goals. You have to let your customers and their actions guide your channel selection.

Email marketing

Goal: to stay up to date

Really there are many reasons customers choose to connect with brands via email. It’s their favorite communication channel for a reason. But, by and large, customers love this channel because it allows them to stay up-to-date with brand updates while maintaining control of the relationship.

They can choose when they look at their email, which emails they subscribe to, and when they want to unsubscribe.

Over recent years we’ve seen new subscribe rates plateau while unsubscribe rates have increased significantly by nearly 8%. There are a variety of ways this can be explained, but one key cause of unsubscribes is fatigue.

When brands continue to send the same sales-focused content customers become unengaged. To maintain engagement with this channel, make sure you’re personalizing your content. Dynamic content allows you to tailor messages to readers’ preferences. This will make them more inclined to click-through and explore your website, leading to more conversions and sales.

Live chat

Goal: to immediately resolve problems

The demand for live chat has skyrocketed in recent years. We’re living in a ‘need-it-now’ generation. Any roadblocks that appear on a prospect’s path to conversion could lead to a complete derailment. They could not only abandon the process but abandon your brand entirely if you fail to offer a resolution in the moment.

Primarily used by customer service teams, live chat is the channel that has finally forced marketing teams to stop working in silo. Customer service is just as important to the overall experience as website UX. If you want to create a customer journey that inspires loyalty, making customer services as accessible as possible is essential.

One way or another, customers want to engage in two-way conversations with brands. By adding chat to your cross-channel marketing kit, you’ll be able to anticipate customer needs. What’s more, having real people managing this aspect of the customer relationship can even help you grow your marketing lists. After all, if it worked for Converse, it can work for you too.

SMS marketing

Goal: to get relevant and actionable information

We’ve seen unprecedented growth in SMS marketing. In fact, the number of SMS marketing messages sent over the past year have increase by 160%, with click-through rates increasing by over 300%. This means there is more of an appetite out there for SMS than ever before.

But how do we get it right?

SMS can be considered a fairly intrusive marketing channel. Notifications and messages pop up on readers’ screens with every send. This means you could be interrupting them in the middle of a meeting, in a movie theater, or while they’re driving. Therefore, it’s vital that you only use the channel when you have something to say.

Appointment confirmation, reminders, and flash sales are great use cases for this marketing channel. Recipients want immediate and actionable info, right in the palm of their hands. Messages about seasonal sales like Black Friday and early access for loyal customers will help you drive more sales than email alone.

Choosing the right marketing channel

Every marketing channel is as different as your customers themselves. To maximize the potential of every channel you need to understand what customers need from each one. More importantly, you need to have systems that communicate with each other.

The ultimate customer cross-channel experience is connected. If a visitor logs onto your website’s live chat, they’ll remember an experience where they’re recognized as an existing customer. Likewise, if a browsing shopper receives a limited-time discount code via SMS, they’re more likely to finalize their purchase with your brand rather than continue shopping around.

To discover more about how customers are interacting with brands’ cross-channel marketing, emailing efforts, and more check out our latest report: The changing face of cross-channel marketing.

At a glance

Jenna Paton, Content Marketing Manager
Jenna expertly writes thought-leadership content about cross-channel marketing and customer engagement and manages the creation and execution of Dotdigital's content marketing strategy.

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