Are you focusing on your audience’s channels?

I saved a Dilbert strip from May 18. Dilbert begins by telling his female colleague: “You never answered my IM.” She responds: “You should have emailed me.”

“I did. You didn’t answer my email.”
“If it was so important you should texted me.”

They next get to phones and finally he says, “So here I am [in person].”
“It’s premature to get your hopes up.”

Portion of Dilbert Comic, May 18, 2014

Dilbert, May 18, 2014

I thought about that when reading Real Magnet’s recent post (on their thought-leading blog Real Insights) titled The Rise of Channel-Specific Content. Every person has their favorite way of communicating these days. I may reach my nephew by texting, my best friend by email, a former work colleague on LinkedIn, an overseas friend on WhatsApp, and a sports buddy by tweeting. And does anyone talk on the phone for anything but a conference call these days? (Half that time you’re on mute.)

The idea of channel-specific content is that you are tailoring your content to fit that medium. No longer can we be satisfied to put the same message on all these different mediums—you’ll lose people. Writes Real Magnet: “Today, channel-specific content is a sound marketing practice as it shows respect for the way your audience uses the inbox, Facebook, Twitter and other channels.”

They offer three steps for adjusting to channel-specific content:

1. Understand and describe each channel. Tell your audience what they will be getting on each channel—limit the surprises. “…you may use your email list for a weekly newsletter, Twitter for customer service, and Facebook for promotions. Promoting them as such is a form of targeting, as your audience is signing up for the specific content you are providing in each. It also helps build anticipation.”

2. Use your email analytics to find the best-performing content. You’ve been measuring your open rates and click-thrus for a while now. You can do the same with your social media with engagement, retweets, likes and conversions.

3. Develop key metrics on channel engagement, not just message effectiveness. “…marketers are going to need to focus on optimizing each channel instead of each message. Develop and track a set of key metrics for each message that measures how much engagement you are driving in aggregate across the channel. For example, you might track ‘Likes per Post’ on Facebook, or ‘Mentions/RTs per Follower per Month’ on Twitter.”

Ryan Holmes, CEO of hootsuite, which automates your messages for different channels, wrote in a blog post: “Social media ushered in a new era of intimate, personalized marketing. Not surprisingly, consumers have grown less receptive to traditional ‘spray and pray’ mass marketing approaches. (Case in point: When 61,000 people were surveyed earlier this year by Forrester, fewer than a quarter said they trust email from companies.)

“To this end, the latest generation of marketing automation software is finding creative ways to bridge the gap: applying the intimacy, personalization and insights gained from social media on a mass scale…Companies that find ways to integrate social media and marketing automation effectively will be able to reach more customers and strengthen ties with existing ones in the years ahead. Companies that fail to do so risk being left behind as ‘mass’ marketing takes its place on history’s scrap heap.”

The question becomes can we be everywhere our audience is or will we have to choose the channels we do best? The quick answer would be yes, we have to try to be everywhere. Real Magnet isn’t so sure: “…marketers will begin limiting messages to the channels in which they work best, in order to make sure that every message contributes meaningfully to its channel’s engagement.”

Stay tuned.

By Ronn Levine

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