Ten Tips: The Business-to-Consumer Channel Challenge

One of the major challenges facing B2C marketers, both offline and online, is channel integration.   While this may seem daunting, the good news is that there are great opportunities for smart marketers to use social and mobile media channels as an extension of their traditional marketing plans to create a more dynamic customer experience and consistent brand image.  Here are ten tips to make sure your multi-channel marketing programs are balanced and effective.

1. Your Online and Offline Channels Need to Cross Promote

Unify your brand presence by promoting equally from both on and offline.  For example, promote online shopping and special offers in your catalog or print ads.  On the website, promote in-store only events and specials.  Keep your branding consistent.  What your customers see in your store should be reflected in your look online.

2. Ensure Consistent Customer Policies

Customer service, credits and return policies should be consistent regardless of where your customer shops – online or in-store.   Update and synchronize any copy, scripts, store personnel and procedures.

3. Publicize Online Promotions Internally

Make sure your sales and support teams are knowledgeable about current online promotions.   Incorporate your promotional updates into weekly staff meetings, email announcements and training literature.

4. Tell Your Customers How to Find You

Tag your social media and web presence on all communications, from emails to direct mail.    Provide links to your store locations and hours on all online venues and a QR code for printed materials.  On your website, make your hours and locations easy to see.  If you are using Foursquare & Yelp, make sure a field test is done at the location tagged.

5. Knowledge is Power

Knowledge of your customers and their preferences gives you the unique ability to market at the RIGHT time, with the RIGHT offer, in the RIGHT channel – for them.   At every point of contact, you have the opportunity to collect information on your customers.  Offline marketers often collect information but fail to pass it on to the online team.   Instead, develop permission-based policies for in-store and online data collection.  Develop a customer database.   Use customer profiling tools (such as Mosaic from Experian) to develop a psychographic and demographic profile of your customers.

6. Personalize

Speaking of customer data, watch your customer’s buying preferences and make them offers to reward their style.  Catalogs are great at driving customers online where they place their order.  Reward them accordingly.   Reach out to customers via multiple channels such as email, direct mail and in-store.  Leave extra catalogs in the store for shoppers to share with their friends or take home.  Make sure there is a dedicated store code on the address panel so that you can track response.

7. Coordinate Discounts and Offers

Be ready for the discount mindset and consumer expectations that are a standard in today’s retail marketplace.   Savvy customers expect to see the same or more content online than off.  Add online promotions to maximize multichannel purchases, but make sure to promote them through your offline outlets.  If you are promoting an in-store ONLY offer online, ensure that the message and terms are clear.  And, vice versa, if an offer is truly ONLINE ONLY, the discount must be clearly stated.

8. Develop Business Rules for Results Reporting

Integrate your reporting and create business rules and a consistent format that will allow you to easily compare results over time.   Avoid creating a separate bucket for online results. Instead review response within all channels and marketing contacts, as well as individual promotions and product specials.  Look for the most effective combinations or patterns.  You’ll be able to look at not only channel results, but which promotions worked best in various channels.

9. Embrace Social Media’s Emergence

A few years ago, talking about your social media presence may have seemed a bit ahead of the curve.  Now it can serve as an essential part of your branding and actually bring customers through your store doors – whether they exist in bricks & mortar or in the cyber world.  Putting together a cohesive social media plan that integrates into your current marketing strategy should be on everyone’s checklist.  If you have a current social media strategy, be sure that you review it frequently for opportunities and growth.

10. Your Customers are Talking. Are You Listening?

Even if you never intend to have a social presence on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp or Foursquare – you have one.  Social media is a democratic medium. If you don’t engage with the social media channels, one of your customers will start the conversation about your brand without you.  Join in and use the feedback you receive to your own advantage.  Twitter can act as a micro-focus group to let you know what people like about your product or brand.  If you find complaints, you can convert negative comments into brand evangelizers if you take care of and/or acknowledge their issues.

For more information this topic or a copy of the white paper, please contact greatideas@dtrio.com.

Victoria Hoshal

Victoria is director of business development at d.trio.

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