Select the Right Channels

Engaging customers or stakeholders in a digital world does not necessarily start online. In the previous two articles in this three-part series, we considered how to set digital goals, and know your digital customer. Now, if you understand something about the needs, concerns and online behaviour of your customer then you will be able to consider their possible journeys across multiple channels.

Start by considering the digital goals you have set, as outlined in the previous article. Where will your customer be when these goals are achieved? What channels will be most appropriate for the engagement to take place?

Your planned digital engagement might take the form of a brief exchange of information at the right time and place, such as a response to search activity or targeted digital advertising; or it might be a long-term exchange via social media, an email campaign or mobile app. Perhaps you plan to connect with customers via a platform where they are already engaged, such as on Facebook or a specialist social network. Or you might hope to introduce a new platform to them such as your own tool or channel.

Planning the customer journey

It might be helpful to consider the customer journey in reverse: having identified digital actions you hope they will take, think about your customer’s current situation. You will have learned about this in the previous chapter, ‘Know your digital customer’. What did you discover about their unmet needs, influences and other sources of engagement that will compete with or complement yours?

As with any planning, a practical way to design your customer’s journey is to identify the stages that connect the destination with the customer’s current situation. A simple example would be if you know that customers use Google to search for certain kinds of keywords, and your digital goal is for them to commit to talk with a healthcare professional about specific symptoms. In this case you might plan a journey to connect the two by providing appropriate resources linked with search results.

Or you might have found that your customers discuss their concerns about a disease or treatment in patient forums; or perhaps your customer is a doctor who uses professional resources for Continuing Medical Education (CME). Or your customer might rarely use the Internet but may be comfortable with text messaging via their mobile.

Make it easy

The key is to make it easy for your customer to engage, using channels they are already familiar with. If you do introduce new channels, you will need to make the transition to those channels easy. If, for example, you want to encourage customers to engage and connect with others in a new social media platform, provide them with help to get orientated. The value you add by doing this could enhance the effectiveness of your engagement and the customer’s willingness to take part in your initiative.

There are some good reasons why you might want to introduce new channels to your customer, especially if you want to introduce new ways of supporting or engaging the customer that will meet a currently unmet need. Think about the capabilities of each channel. Would features like location-based services be helpful? Is rich media a requirement? Do you want to engage a customer both at home and at work?

Some of the questions you will ask yourself when planning channels are technological; some are about practical user journeys. Ultimately it is about marrying the potential of each channel with the value that will be added to your customer through engagement, leading to your digital goals.

Finally, make sure that you set up your initiative to track the customer journey across every channel. This will allow you to learn about the role of each channel as engagement takes place, so that you can continually improve outcomes.

Creation Healthcare helps brand managers in pharmaceutical and healthcare companies to plan successful digital and multichannel campaigns. For expert help planning your next campaign, contact us.

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