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Do You Know Your Customers’ Channel Preferences?

ChannelUsing multichannel marketing to stay in touch with customers and increase engagement? Effective marketers are. But how do you know which channels to use and when? How do you stay abreast of the ways your customers want to receive information from you? Are you just guessing?

Customer-centric marketing starts with knowing your customers’ channel preferences and working within them. For example, if your customers consistently order out of your product catalog, don’t switch to email simply because you think it saves money. If your customers are more likely to remember appointments when sent text reminders, don’t send them a postcard.

Brands are becoming increasingly sensitive to these issues. According to Experian Marketing Services’ “State of Cross-Channel Marketing Report” (2014), the number of brands collecting customers’ communication channel preferences increased by 50% year over year.

Channel preferences include not just which channels customers use, but the types of messages sent and how frequently. According to Experian, brands are 65% more likely to allow customers to select the types of messages they would like to receive and 48% are more likely to let them choose how often they would like to receive email.

Asking (and honoring) channel preferences not only increases response rates, but it improves customer loyalty. By respecting customers’ preferences, you show that you care. In fact, those who don’t honor channel preferences risk higher levels of customer attrition. According to Accenture, 44% of insurance customers, for example, say they would switch providers if they couldn’t use their preferred channels during the claims process. Channel preferences matter.

How Can You Find Out Your Customers’ Channel?

Watch what they do. What offers are customers responding to and by which channels? Did they respond to the catalog or the email? The postcard or the Facebook ad? Add channel response as a field in your customer database. If customers consistently use certain channels for certain types of interactions, you need to know that.

Ask them. Use surveys, feedback forms, customer service interactions, email, and even the point of sale. Each time you interact with your customers, give them an opportunity to provide or update their preferences. (This is also a great way to gather additional data, such as mobile numbers!)

Knowing customers’ channel behavior and preferences is foundational to any multichannel marketing program.