- Rather than focusing on communication channels to drive your sales and marketing strategy, your strategy should be the factor that ultimately drives your channel selection.
- Despite the growing importance of personalization, only about 12.3% of total color printing contained variable data that was customized to the individual recipient.
- Highly personalized communications tend to be more helpful and relevant, which can lead to greater customer engagement and higher overall response rates.
By German Sacristan
Now that the internet has become ubiquitous, the number of communication channels has only accelerated—much like the obsession surrounding them. What is the best way to reach today’s consumers, who are “always on” yet in some cases experiencing digital fatigue? How can marketers ensure that their communications are having an impact, particularly when consumers’ communication preferences are individual and ever-changing? It might seem challenging to tackle something that is still evolving, but it is important nonetheless. How do the various communication channels work together, and how does each contribute to an effective marketing campaign?
Channels are the vehicle for communication. They’re the method through which the message is delivered and received by the audience. Although the communication channel—or channels—is an integral part of marketing, the focus should be on the strategy of reaching the consumer rather than the channel itself. After all, the best email campaign in the world won’t make much of a difference if the majority of recipients are mass-deleting the message without even glancing at its contents. The same goes for printed communications—an amazing catalog won’t generate sales if it ends up in the recycling bin without ever being opened. Rather than obsessing about the method of communication, the strategy of the campaign should ultimately drive the channels that are used.
Developing a Strategy for Communication Channels
Some marketers spend a lot of time obsessing about marketing channels as they strive to compete for their customers’ attention. As such, it is not unusual for these marketers to track their campaigns for effectiveness and try to determine which channel or method of contact has the greatest likelihood of generating a sale. The problem with this approach is that all communication channels—unless they are used incorrectly—can be effective and result in a sale. It would make little sense for a salesperson to attempt to pinpoint the single customer experience that resulted in a sale, particularly since the success of that sale is likely attributable to multiple touchpoints (including phone/video calls, emails, texts, direct mail, interactions with the website, and in-person visits).
The biggest issue with an obsession over communication channels is that it may drive some marketers to choose a channel without first considering the overall strategy. This is a little like renting a car without knowing where you’re going or what you might need to take with you. Rather than focusing on communication channels to drive your sales and marketing strategy, your strategy should be the factor that ultimately drives your channel selection.
For marketers, the first steps should be figuring out what they need to say, who they want to say it to, how often they want to reach out, and when they want to connect with their audience. Only after these steps are complete should they focus on choosing the right channels to deliver their messages. As noted earlier, all communication channels can be effective when used correctly. They also have different strengths and weaknesses, so it is more important to develop a thorough understanding of each channel rather than attempting to pick a winner. No single communication channel is right for all campaigns, so marketers can improve their effectiveness by first considering the strategy and then selecting the most appropriate channels.
In most cases, the success or failure of a given campaign is not solely attributable to the communication channel. There are many other factors that are equally or even more important. One thing is for sure, though—word of mouth is huge. The ability to use someone else’s words (rather than your own) to promote your offerings can be quite powerful. Today’s consumers place a great deal of credence in the opinions of their peers, so word of mouth is a truly effective way to establish brand recognition and additional credibility.
Personalization is Key!
According to Keypoint Intelligence’s most recent marketing communications research, personalized and relevant content was the factor that made consumers most likely to read or review a piece of printed direct mail. Despite the growing importance of personalization, other research from Keypoint Intelligence determined that on average, only about 12.3% of total color printing contained variable data that was customized to the individual recipient.
Figure 1. The Importance of Personalization
It is perhaps not surprising that some marketers simply aren’t comfortable with high levels of personalization. It’s simpler to create generic messaging that can be sent to as many people as possible, whereas highly personalized campaigns require more strategy as well as additional time and effort. Although it does initially cost more to create more engaging and personalized messaging, this strategy may be more effective and cost-efficient in the long run. Highly personalized communications tend to be more helpful and relevant, which can lead to greater customer engagement and higher overall response rates. Marketing messages can only be effective if they are consumed by the intended recipient, and highly personalized content that is targeted toward an individual recipient is much less likely to be ignored.
The Bottom Line
Everyone knows that it is cheaper to send an email than a direct mail communication, so print service providers must focus on the relevance and value of printed communications. The best marketing campaigns capture the attention of their intended recipient, deliver relevant content, and make it easy for people to buy. Ultimately, the communication channel that is used to convey the messaging should come secondary to the strategic vision that is driving the campaign. It’s not about choosing one channel over another—it’s about focusing on your strategy so you can select the perfect combination of channels to deliver optimal results.
German Sacristan is the Director of Keypoint Intelligence’s Production Print & Media group. In this role, he supports customers with strategic go-to-market advice related to production printing in graphic arts and similar industry segments. German’s responsibilities include conducting market research, industry and technology forecasts, custom consulting and development of analyses, editorial content on technology, as well as support to clients in the areas of production digital printing.
Join the discussion Sign In or Become a Member, doing so is simple and free