Why you need to focus on channel integration

Do you know how many marketing messages you are exposed to every day?  Go ahead—look away from the screen and take a guess.

In doing research for this post, I came across estimates ranging from 3,000 to 20,000. That’s probably way more messages than you guessed. What this tells us—although it’s not necessarily new information—is that we are exposed to many more messages and offers every day than we can possibly process.

In 2012, Google served 30,000,000 ads. In 2013, ComScore said that “5.3 trillion impressions were served in the United States.” The Radicati Group estimates that the number of emails sent and received per day will total over 205 billion. According to that same study, you will receive an average of 88 emails from businesses (ads) every day (of which 12 will be spam). So even though we don’t know the exact number, the amount of messages you receive every day is yuuge (to borrow a word from the zeitgeist).

Now set aside marketing for just a minute and think about this topic as a consumer. How many ways do you receive information every day? You receive texts, emails, social posts and phone calls. You peruse web sites, watch TV, stream movies online and see billboards on your way to work while listening to the radio. You read newspapers and magazines. That’s eleven different channels by my count—and that’s before you break those channels into Facebook, LinkedIn, news sites, opinion sites, cell phone, office phone, etc.

As a marketer, you need to make sure you’re considering all these channels (and more). But perhaps more importantly, you need to think about how consumers use these channels in an integrated way.

How often have you had conversations with friends and families that start in one medium (text), move to another medium (phone call) and finish on another medium (email)? What was that conversation like? It was probably pretty consistent in terms of experience. Why is that? Well, because it’s a conversation that moves from one medium to the next based on the last interaction and the people involved in the conversation don’t change.

My wife’s “voice” doesn’t change from text to email to phone call to text because it’s the same person communicating with me across each medium. (On occasion my daughter will get hold of my wife’s phone and send a barrage of emoticons, but that’s a whole other issue!)  Even though the channel is constantly changing, we’re still engaging in a real-time conversation.

Your brand needs to do the same thing. The key is consistent messaging across channels.

Your customers are having a conversation with you across several channels much like we interact with our friends and families.  Since 73 percent of consumers use multiple devices to complete an activity, you need to create a consistent voice and message across all channels. Channel integration is what we’re after, not touch-point management. Your customers are listening to your brand’s “voice” and developing expectations about that experience: they expect consistency and a conversation that moves to the next step regardless of channel.

The customer neither knows nor cares that you have an email team, social team, e-commerce web/digital team, direct mail team, etc. What she cares about—what she expects—is a seamless conversation.  Do you meet those expectations?

While we have seen improvements in consistency of message within channels, few brands offer the seamlessness the customer is looking for across channels. What we see is focus within each channel on how often they should communicate with a customer (e.g. how many emails should I send to a customer each day/week, how many times should I display this banner ad, how many times do I present this message on Facebook).  Don’t get me wrong, these are questions we answer for customers all the time, but rarely do we see brands focus on how each channel continues a conversation with the customer.

So instead of focusing on how many emails to send or how many web impressions to present or when to get that direct mail piece in the mailbox, focus your energy on how to integrate your channels to engage your customer in a seamless conversation regardless of device, channel or location.