How can you know that your marketing efforts reach customers at the right time, i.e. when they are ready to listen to your arguments? I’d suggest to explore the potential of the company’s owned channels. Making these the center of the marketing communications mix may hold the key.
57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier, according to a study by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) (picture below). The study was made in 2012, but there is no reason to believe that the number has decreased over the last 3 years, rather the opposite.
Hence we can conclude that customers are active online at any time, which means that your marketing messages need to be there all the time. Let’s increase the ad spend!… Or not? A more rewarding strategy is likely to apply a converged communications approach where the owned channels are given at least the same attention as paid and earned activities. In fact, I’d even suggest to make the owned channels the center of the marketing communications mix.
“Owned channels” are basically any channel that the company controls itself, e.g. company web site, micro sites, own magazines, own blogs, and the company’s social media channels. Their main feature is that they are owned – the company controls both the visuals, the message, and the timing. The question is: Do you give them enough attention?
5 reasons to prioritize owned communication channels:
- They present your story
The stories a company tells through posts and comments, blogs, videos, infographics, etc, live for a very long time online. Don’t be surprised if an article by one of your experts is picked up and shared a few years after it’s been published (compare my links above). Furthermore, active social media presence can promote a more engaging side of the company, thereby continuously building the brand.
- They’re your flagship store.
The corporate website is nothing but the company’s flagship store – the company’s center on the internet. It’s the home of facts, news, and interesting stories and it serves as the company’s main presentation. This is where people go when they don’t really know you, as well as when they are your loyal customers. Considering its importance, a serious effort should be made to keep it updated.
- They’re your main spokesperson.
How many of your assigned spokespersons meet with customers and market influencers every day? How many of your assigned spokespersons speak with potential employees or partners every day? How many of your social media managers are trained spokespersons? Your social media managers speak for your company every day, about basically all parts of your business. Considering the importance of these people, a serious effort should be made to give them proper training, keep them proud, happy, and engaged, and have a plan for on-boarding of new ones. The social media managers are valuable.
- Their followers like you
I wouldn’t say that the best KPI (Key Performance Index) for a social channel is number of followers, but it’s important to have a certain amount of followers mainly for two reasons:
The followers like you already. They have volunteered to listen to you not once or twice, but every day. They are likely to be among your best spokespersons in the market if you treat them well.
The followers will tell you when you’re doing things right. Or wrong, which is even more important. A note from one of your social media followers can be an alarm that an issue may arise, or just a brilliant idea that you’d like to take further.
- They are still there when your campaign budget is gone
There is one more reason to focus on owned channels: They are continuous by nature. They’re open 24/7 whether you want it or not, and this is an asset in itself. Your paid campaign banners will stay for as long as your budget holds, your ‘earned’ efforts (often PR) will pay off in bursts, but what you publish in your owned channels stay and can be reinforced over and over again.
The role owned (social) channels can fill better than paid or earned, is to continuously nurture an everyday relation with the followers. New content has to be added on a regular basis, but not necessarily new angles every time. It’s more important just to be there. To give them the friendly ‘everyday’ you.
Making owned channels the center of the marketing communications mix will allow company marketing to answer when the customer is prepared to listen.
So a question to consider: Do you give owned channels enough attention?
First published on LinkedIn May 19, 2015