How to Use Cross-Channel Strategies to Engage Your Customers

How to Use Cross-Channel Strategies to Engage Your Customers

We often talk about the importance of building relationships with customers, but usually brands act less like a friend and more like an acquaintance. While moving toward a meaningful customer relationship requires effort in several areas, orchestrating intelligent cross-channel experiences is a good place to start.

One of the key trends in the Braze 2024 Customer Engagement Review is that cross-channel messaging is rapidly evolving, which means brand needs will as well. Looking at our own friendships, as an example, we can discover relatable lessons on how to grow customer relationships.

In a typical week, we might text a friend to make plans, respond to their late-night Instagram reel, or even FaceTime them. When we show up in person, we remember all those touchpoints, so it’d be strange to act like each communication lived in siloed channels in your friendship.

As brands develop relationships with customers, the approach should feel the same – a cohesive understanding across disparate and non-linear touchpoints. Here are a few lessons marketers should apply from human-to-human interactions to build better brand-to-human interactions.

Lesson 1: Pick up where you left off

As brands evolve their cross-channel user experiences, it’s important to do so with an orchestration layer that understands a customer and takes their full ecosystem of engagement and marketing touches into account. Every time a customer engages with a digital touchpoint, it should enhance the brand’s understanding of the relationship, yielding valuable data to reflect upon in the future.

As brands start to profile their users to deliver more resonant content, measuring engagement at a content type, topic, and style level can help them deliver more personalized interactions. This enables the brand to give the customer what they need, what they like, and what they want, moving beyond a signal-reaction strategy to thinking about the long-term relationship.  When a customer opens a retail email featuring a promotion, it doesn’t necessarily imply that they would like to receive more promotions or that they will only shop with a promotion. Instead, it might show they are interested in a specific piece of content, or a category which you can build on in subsequent email campaigns.

Lesson 2: Set the right message for the right medium

We generally adhere to unspoken rules around what channels we use for communicating with our friends. A quick question, for example, may better be suited for a text message than an email. Brands should have a plan for how, when, and why they leverage different channels, putting the customer’s needs at the center of their strategy.

Factors like urgency, opportunity, and the customer’s history of engaging with a channel should also play into this decision. For example, in-app and SMS notifications can swing between wildly intrusive and exceptionally convenient depending on their content. A good cross-channel strategy should consider what message is being sent, what channel is most appropriate, and whether customers will respond based on past behavior.

Lesson 3: Don’t be self-centered

Everybody has that friend who somehow always steers the conversation back to themselves. Similarly, when brands talk about focusing on customers’ needs, they mean “which of our products this customer needs.” This is a prime example of when brands need to use their messaging as an opportunity to differentiate themselves with what they send and when they send it.

It can be difficult for marketers to develop content that doesn’t explicitly tie to the brand, but offering value beyond products can be a powerful relationship-building tool. By planning and evaluating your channel and content mix, brands can experiment with the right balance of promotional and infotainment content to make customers feel like the brand is involved in their life – even when their wallets are not.

Stitch it all together

Executing a seamless cross-channel marketing strategy can be difficult. Having the right technology stack, a strong customer data strategy, and stellar strategy and creative teams is a great place to start. Remember, there are multiple ways to start small and make a big impact.

For brands trying to implement a cross-channel strategy, we recommend three key starting points:

  1. Look at your audiences through three lensesdemographic, behavioral, and motivational. Identify why they may engage, what they need, and how they may respond through their preferred communication channel.
  2. Tag your content by motivation to test different approaches at an audience (or ideally, customer) level. If you can figure out that a customer opens discount-driven emails but likes health-focused social posts, you can build a content strategy for that group that maximizes both their interests and your profit.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask. While preference centers aren’t the hot topic that they once were, they can still be a highly valuable tool for getting data points on what types of content, channels, and products the customer desires.

By treating customers like friends or family, brands can provide long-term value that leads to happy, healthy relationships both online and off. 

Struggling to understand your customer data?

Merkle's data management solutions can help you gain valuable insights and personalize your marketing efforts. Contact Merkle to learn more.

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