5 marketing channels to prioritise this year

By Rohan Lock, Regional Director – APAC, dotdigital

If in 2021 you don’t have a website with a strong online presence, you’re going to lose out on significant sales revenue. And after the year we’ve just had, no business can afford that. But, what about the other channels in your marketing ecosystem – the ones that supplement your website and support and engage customers across the lifecycle? They need to be working seamlessly in the background so there are no disjoints in terms of data and customer experiences. Employing a holistic marketing strategy, where your marketing channels and platforms work well together, will give you a competitive edge. It will also help you better manage and take advantage of the tsunami of online orders since the beginning of the pandemic.  So, without further ado, let’s look at the 5 channels you must prioritise this year:

#1 SMS: Your first step on your omnichannel journey

SMS boasts a near-perfect engagement score that is not easily beaten. Think about it: you have a clear, undisrupted path to your customers who look at their smartphones 150 times a day without requiring an internet connection. So, why wouldn’t you send SMS?

Sending your transactional and broadcast SMS from your omnichannel marketing platform is easy. What’s more, SMS plays well with other channels – you can incorporate text messages into your wider marketing campaigns.

For example, as part of Accolade Wine’s Australia Day sale, an SMS notification was linked to 15 percent of the total Gross Sales Revenue (GSR) generated during the campaign period. The campaign was efficiently run, via SMS alerts, with direct links to the online store.

Top tips to get your SMS engagement off the ground:

  • Utilise customer data to make SMS highly relevant: whether that’s order notifications or location-based store promotions
  • Write clear and concise messages that recipients will easily understand on glance
  • Use branded ‘from’ names that make it clear who you are, communicating context to transactional recipients and broadcast subscribers
  • Promote SMS opt-in across all media/ channels, giving people the opportunity to sign up wherever the touchpoint

#2 Re-open the door to personal customer service online

In a physical store, a physical assistant is a valuable asset. They’re on hand for any questions you have while browsing and shopping. You can transfer this tailored customer service online with live chat. When done well, it can be a valuable asset to your online business – acting as a forum for feedback and helping answer customers’ concerns. Consumers love live chat because of its immediate response, and with increasing physical barriers in place because of the pandemic, that’s more important than ever.

One of dotdigital’s Australian skincare and beauty manufacturer clients, Jurlique, uses website chat functionalities to help customers find the best product. Having real-life beauty experts chat online with customers enables them to understand their needs and cater to them accordingly, which was advantageous during the COVID lockdowns, where face to face interactions became very limited.

Top tips to enhance the use of live chat:

  • Reduce barriers to sale with first-class customer service on your website; resolve queries fast and get customers back on track
  • Increase average order values with the use of smart product recommendations that incentivise even more browsing, enriching your behavioural insight
  • Improve your overall customer experience to drive positive reviews and word of mouth; this will help increase traffic and conversion
  • Boost conversion rates by up to 40 percent, providing in-store-style assistance online

#3 Email ROI you can always rely on

Email continues to prove its marketing worth in terms of engagement and ROI. No other channel has dominated the marketing landscape quite like email. And today, the channel continues to grow smarter, providing recipients with hyper-relevant product recommendations and swipe-able, interactive content. But in terms of omnichannel, where does email fit it? Think of email as the central pillar of your omnichannel stack, linking through to other important media and channels – like your website, SMS campaigns, Facebook ads and more – through the use of customer data. Soon you’ll have built a single customer view and with it a holistic suite of marketing messaging platforms.

Remedy, a market leader for fermented beverages in Australia and New Zealand, uses email to deliver consistent messaging, and engage with their customers with highly relevant content. This has built a stronger approach towards brand recognition and customer retention and has also resulted in 15% of company revenue come from email.

Furthermore, email and product recommendations go hand in hand because they both complement the customer journey. Just as you would use email to send customers a welcome message, order confirmation, and post-purchase review, you can populate product recommendations across this timeframe of the journey too. Promote bestsellers to new purchasers, showcase lookalikes to recent shoppers, and use trending products to prevent customers from lapsing.

Top tips for an utterly spellbinding email program:

  • Create a preference centre where you can capture customer interests to inform your email marketing content and frequency
  • People’s spending habits differ, and your messages and promotions should reflect that: use RFM personas to target different customer groups with more tailored content
  • Include smart AI-driven product recommendations in email – like ‘best next’, which recommends products based on what similar customers went on to buy next
  • AMP for email: pull in dynamic and interactive content where recipients can swipe, browse, and click on what interests them most

#4 Display ads: The relevancy channel that keeps on giving

Personalisation when done right can drive exceptional customer experiences that generate optimum revenue. Remarketing complements other personalise-able channels, such as email, because it extends the journey beyond the realms of the inbox. The idea is to keep relevant products and services front of mind, across different media and channels, and engage the user’s interest from a high-intent action (i.e. browsing on your website).

Top tips to master your display ads:

  • Create ads that are simple and visual; for best results make sure that the product is clearly displayed, supported with clickable copy and a compelling CTA
  • Your reach on display is endless, so make sure you test your ads; create separate audience segments based on topics and interests to see what works for whom
  • Leverage emotional triggers in your messaging; tap into those high-intent actions and re-surface those associated emotive feelings that buying the product will pander to
  • Incentivise with a discount or offer; the bonus of a money-off promo or free shipping etc. will add value to your proposition and seal the deal

#5 Push notifications: Delight and engage your biggest fans

Did you know that mobile app revenues are expected to rise to $935 billion by 2023? Bringing your storefront to the forefront of your customer’s screen makes business sense – you just need to make the app valuable and let it work its magic. The great thing about push is that you’re not competing with other messages like you are emails in an inbox – users will click on your message when it pops up, be directed to your app, and engage with your brand alone.

Top tips to get your push notifications spot on:

  • Get to know your customers shopping habits and be there, in-ap, at the ready; showcase your hottest drops and top-of-the-line products
  • Be personal but professional; use push notifications to inform customers about the important stages of their journey – like contract renewal, feature updates, and more
  • Stay front of mind; remind customers that you’re still there and of the multitude of in-app options available to them: from order replenishment to content and social
  • Be unpredictable; surprise is a powerful marketing tool, so don’t rest on transactional messaging – use push to drive value by saying thanks and offering exclusive perks

Mastering your suite of channels, like anything else in marketing, takes time, effort, and patience. The key is using data to connect your touchpoints, so that the customer’s experience is as smooth and seamless as possible. Today, that counts for a lot. And at a time when people are shopping exclusively online, brands need to be present more than ever. They need to reassure customers that they’ll get exactly what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.

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