Going Multichannel

A recent survey commissioned by Adobe and administered by Keynote Services looked at how consumers are using mobile sites, apps, and emerging technologies. All of the data was interesting in one way or another to marketers who want to take advantage of multichannel touchpoints in reaching prospects and customers. 

But it seems to me that the results were particularly interesting from a CRM point of view.

The study points to the not-unanticipated fragmentation of the overall mobile landscape as to where, when, and how people use mobile devices. New technologies always spark a plethora of uses, not all of which were necessarily intended. Younger demographics prefer smartphones; older demographics spend more money on them. Tablets are emerging (“poised to gain market share”) in a smartphone-dominated market because of people’s preferences for website interaction on a larger screen. 

And that’s our first CRM hint: let’s look at consumer preferences, and design the consumer experience accordingly.

As the study becomes more specific, examining media services, travel services, financial services, and shopping, even more interesting data is revealed. Study participants were unenthused about issues ranging from speed and performance to transaction processes, the ability to load websites on a phone, the ability to enter data, and navigation. 

Survey respondents cited a need to easily access product information and price, an easy checkout process, positive customer ratings and reviews, good visual information, the ability to easily make the purchase via the mobile site or app, and keyword search for products as being important to them when shopping online via a mobile app. 

Again, all of this seems to be obvious from a CRM point of view: never in the history of marketing have customers been so clear with marketers about what they want. Good customer relationship management is, in that sense, easier now than ever before, and this nascent multichannel forum gives us the opportunity as marketers to, just maybe, get it right the first time.

Let’s take a step back and consider the fact that “multichannel marketing” isn’t anything particularly new. Pre-digital marketing used what was known as a “media mix”: a customer could see an ad for a new perfume in a magazine, receive a piece of direct mail with a coupon for the perfume, see another perfume ad on television, and finally receive something from the local department store featuring the perfume. The point then was the same as it is now: that products need to be placed in consumers’ paths at several different times and in several different ways—the old “reach and frequency” adage. But the difference between the old media mix and today’s multichannel marketing is something that’s far more fundamental than how or where something’s being advertised.

The difference is in a profound power shift away from the marketer and toward the consumer.

In the old days, the marketer chose what information the consumer could access about a given product, and could control what consumers heard and learned, skewing information about the product to be positive. With the advent of social media, that ship has sailed. Consumers now have access to layers upon layers of information about products, to conversations about products, to complaints about products; they know what competition there is out there and have compared competing products side by side. 

Consumers are now in the driver’s seat. Not only are they better informed about the product, they’re also dictating the process, informing marketers of when, where, how, and how frequently they wish to be contacted.

It’s a brave new world, and best practices would dictate that marketers take time out of their rush to conquer whatever platform comes next to actually listen to their customers. To learn how to make those platforms work for those customers. To understand how customers want to view, discuss, compare, and shop for a product.

That’s not just good CRM—it’s good sense as well.

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