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Multi-Channel Communication Rules Every Retailer Should Know

Posted by Drew Melendy on Feb 10, 2020 4:39:35 PM
Drew Melendy

Gone are the days where email was the only way for consumers and brands to reach each other through electronic means. Now customer service and marketing communications are sent through website chat, social media comment sections, Instagram direct messages, Facebook Messenger, SMS texts, and mobile app notifications.

So, how is it that businesses communicate across multiple channels without bombarding customers with bothersome messages and hurting the customer experience? This dilemma can feel overwhelming, but it really comes down to a few fundamental rules.

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1. Get customers’ consent to send marketing information

Customers expect companies to deliver messages and announcements that cater to their interests, such as promos or sales. However, the customer must be in control of the way they receive them.

Always get express permission to send marketing information to your customers’ inboxes. You won’t just pay with your brand reputation if you send unsolicited marketing messages. The CAN-SPAM Act, which sets the rules for all commercial electronic messages, can penalize you with hefty fines if you send out commercial messages without explicit consent. 

Note that this law includes all commercial messages. That means that it’s not just email marketing that you need to worry about. In other words, be mindful of less traditional marketing messages such as SMS texts and Facebook Messenger blasts as well. Customers must elect to accept these communications by opting in.

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2. Set expectations for the communications they receive

Setting expectations is a vital part of marketing communications. For many communication channels, it is actually your legal obligation to tell customers about the content of your messages and the frequency of them.

Besides following the law, it will also help you deliver better customer experiences. Customers are much less likely to be disturbed or annoyed by your messages when they know what to expect. 

But it’s not just marketing communications businesses need to set the tone for. They also need to do this for customer support since consumers expect it on all channels. Customers are in a hurry to get answers to their questions, so follow up quickly and be upfront about response times.

If you or your team aren’t available to answer right away, use automation to answer on your behalf. Automated email responses, website chatbots, Messenger chatbots, and comment auto-replies can all be used to address basic customer service requests. When those means can’t directly solve the issue, their messages should tell customers when they can expect a reply from a human.

Related Reading: 3 Ways Facebook Chatbots Are Winning Boutiques More Sales

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3. Provide a way to opt-out of marketing communications

Just as it’s required by law to provide an opt-in for marketing communications, you’re also required to provide a way to opt-out. Your opt-out should be easily accessible to give your customers a simple way to stop incoming messages whenever they feel like it. 

Woman at laptop looking frustrated over the number of marketing emails in her inbox.

4. Consider the frequency of your messages

There is a fine line between marketing and harassment. Don’t disrespect your customers by sending them an excessive amount of messages. That’s a straightforward way to lose their trust and business.

Each communication channel has its own best practices concerning the frequency messages. However, you can see how your well your current communication strategy is doing by studying reports for each channel. Take a look at your open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates on each.

Woman smiles excitedly over a mobile app push notification notifying her of a restocked item.

5. Assess the relevancy & value of your content

When people elect to give companies their contact information, it should be treated with dignity. Don’t just start sending messages whenever you feel like there’s something important to communicate. 

Your customers are providing you with their personal information, give them something of value in return. Ask yourself if your customer would actually find it helpful, interesting, or worthwhile. Otherwise, they will see your messages as just another form of junk mail and you'll earn a reputation as a spammer

Related Reading: 10 Ways To Stop Spamming and Start Selling

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6. Choose the right time to send messages

Your messages timing can mean the difference between someone skipping over your message in a moment of indifference or catching them at the peak of their excitement. Send messages that will engage your customers when you know they’re most available.

More importantly, you don’t want to send some of these communications when no one is awake. In the case of text messages or other noisy alerts, your customers want this less so!

To determine which times are best for your business use reports from your CRM or ecommerce platform. As with every business decision, use data to benchmark success and improve your business strategy.

The Takeaway

While businesses need to send messages to keep top of mind with customers, too many can be seen as intrusive and unwanted. By respecting subscribers’ privacy, delivering value, and being courteous with frequency and timing, you’ll be able to safely deliver communications across channels without overwhelming your subscribers.  

Topics: Marketing, Business Strategy

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