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How to build customer engagement across multiple channels

How to build customer engagement across multiple channels

By James Critchley, CEO, cloud. IQ 

Multi-channel marketing matters more than ever right now. The British Retail Consortium found that mobile and tablet search volumes grew by 113% in the second quarter of 2012, compared to the same period last year and eBay predicts that one in three gifts will be bought on a mobile device this Christmas. 
 
Britain’s biggest high street retailers can see which way the wind is blowing and they are changing their business models in response. In the last few weeks we’ve seen Boots release its first gifting app and Littlewoods narrowing losses in the last quarter, noting that 15% of sales are now happening via mobiles. Marc Bolland recently announced Marks & Spencer is dedicating £800 million to spend on “dull stuff” (his description of technology) in a bid to make the company an ‘international, multi-channel retailer’.
 
But whether you have the vast budgets of M&S at your disposal or are a start-up with less than five employees there are some universal ways to engage customers effectively.
 
Use the right method and listen 
 
Digital Natives swap between devices and platforms every two minutes, proving multi-channel is not just a buzzword it’s a way of life for many. The most successful businesses can adapt and change quickly and this needs to include the method by which you communicate with your customers.  
 
Implementing cart recovery software can be a fantastic aid – letting you know at which point a customer dropped out of an online sale so you can retarget them via not only the right channel but also with the right message.  For example a customer who abandons the online process at the check out could be sent an encouraging message to make their purchase ‘before these items sell out.’
 
It takes 90 minutes for the average person to respond to an email and 90 seconds for the average person to respond to an SMS text message, but if your customer prefers to be contacted by email it’s worth waiting the extra 88.5 minutes for the sale.
 
Don’t ignore ‘real’ people
 
It’s important to remember that multi-channel means offline as well as on and – as the old adage goes –  people want to do business with people. The reality is that when we’re buying stuff, particularly something that costs more than a few quid, we usually want to talk to someone as part of the transaction. Doing so reassures us that we’re dealing with a reputable organisation, and in a recession it also give us the chance to check out if we can get what we want at a better price – the haggler in all of us comes out. This is why Callback buttons are proving so popular with consumers.
 
Callback buttons are not rocket science. They allow website owners to place a button on their site that customers can hit when they want to speak to someone, maybe because they’re experiencing issues using a site or simply want to ask some questions. The Callback button then automates the Callback process – connecting an agent to the customer.

Be available all the time 
 
Businesses need to be available to customers around the clock as online browsing happens 24/7 and competitors are just a click away. But that doesn’t mean someone has to be in the office the whole time.  Again, a simple Callback button can help – they can schedule calls for the next working day if the enquiry is out of hours and will keep trying if the customer is engaged until a connection is made. They ensure you respond quickly to a customer – before they get the chance to browse a competitor’s site. This gives Callback buttons a major advantage over basic web forms that rely on someone manually spotting the request and having the persistence to schedule a call.  Having the ability for your customers to get in touch with you over the phone either immediately or the next working day can improve customer conversion significantly -  studies show that 78% of people who buy, do so from the first company to call them back
 
Turn showrooming into an opportunity
 
The practice of ‘showrooming’ – where consumers visit a physical store to check out a product but then turn to their smartphones to find it cheaper elsewhere – is growing fast. If you want to benefit from this, it’s crucial that your online presence is optimised for mobile devices. Consumers quickly get frustrated having to pinch, grab and zoom around regular sites on small devices. It’s not that tricky to convert your site into a smartphone-friendly format, but surprisingly few businesses do this. Always integrate e-commerce functionality too, so the user can buy from you on the spot, rather than get a better offer from the store assistant!

Simple solutions are key

Technology providers often offer to help simplify a ‘crazy’ new world of multiple touch points. But have they really simplified things? I’m not so sure. Companies have been left with big bills and heavy recurring costs, having invested in new people to run complex, technical systems specifically designed for them. 
 
There are now simple tools to address this universal problem. Many of these are cloud based – meaning they’re delivered over the web and you only pay for what you use. These solutions are better suited to mid size organisations as they are simple, self-service and cost effective.

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