News and views to improve the strength and vigor of all your direct response marketing activity.

Do your marketing and advertising communications and messages put consumers on a freshly paved surface with clear signs and smooth transitions from roads to highways and back without frustration or delay?

Or do prospects and customers find themselves stumbling as they go from one medium to another, hitting potholes, navigating confusing signage, or perhaps stuck in loops, making tortured progress and eventually exiting without completing the action you desire?

Many of us can picture from our own experience the joy of cross-channel comms when they work, and the nightmare when they fail …

  • The good: You see a TV spot that aligns across networks, backed by coordinated messaging from digital display, social media, direct mail, even transit ads, where you find your way across channels with a few clicks and one-time data entry.

  • The bad: A product or service email catches your eye. Curiosity engaged, you click to “Learn More,” but are taken abruptly to an “Order Now” form, or get plopped onto an all-purpose, one-size-fits-all home page. If you’re like me, and really interested, you might try to find your way back. But better than 50% of the time, I don’t have the time. And I ditch.

Your prospects, just like everyone else online, want the information they seek or to do what they set out to do in as few steps as possible. But all too often we get in the way.

How many of your prospects get disconnected stepping across channels? Confused, frustrated, and/or insulted, they stumble on their consumer journey. You’ve lost them — and a sale as well. As an added point of frustration, these sorts of disconnects are not limited only to fragmented messaging, but often apply to site design as well.

Diagnosing Cross-Channel “Fails” — Indicators and Fixes

Several red flags indicate that prospects are disconnecting with your message along their journey:

  • Bounce rates on key web pages higher than normal
  • Lead captures are below goal
  • Other KPIs (e.g., abandoned enrollments or time on a page) look “off” when comparing different channels

Also, be aware that consumers can flounder crossing channels in analog media, too! How are abandoned call rates from 800#s tracked to TV or mail tactics? What’s your percentage of unconverted leads from your fulfillment mailings?

So, what do you do to make corrections? Fails in tracking, data transfer, or other operational glitches often involve legacy systems aligning various internal and/or external stakeholders and sizable budgets. We’ll save those for another time (and an e-book rather than a blog post). For now, we’ll focus on making improvements to messaging and creative: items that you can impact relatively quickly and affordably.

5 Steps To A Seamless Cross-Channel Customer Experience

1. Recognize that a smooth cross-channel experience entails more than branding and graphics. A primary “to-do” often cited is to reuse images from a front-end tactic on a landing page. Easy for sure, but not enough.

The real solution is to pick up the consumer conversation. Where are people coming from? What are they looking for? A truly unique URL for every email, ad, mailer, etc. can be challenging to execute. To help streamline assets, put responders into persona-like groups aligning with steps in your sales funnel. Examples might include: General Info Researchers, Comparison Shoppers, Seeking Product/Model/Plan Details, or Buyers Ready for Quote.

2. Conceive and design web pages as connected destinations, beyond “content.” Effective web pages do more than simply host a video or gallery of downloads. They present assets to people, who arrive from different places – but not just anyplace. Keying from those personas above, give each a reason to engage based on their place at the top, middle, or bottom of your sales funnel. One construct is to use a headline to speak to the largest group, a subheading to engage another, and a lead sentence with a slightly different spin.

3. Lock-up keywords and CTAs. Some common front-end teaser phrases and terms (e.g., 5 Ways, Answers, or Pitfalls) are often worth crafting into a page’s copy to provide hooks for native or social media ads or print media to sync with. Conversely, if your team comes up with a dynamite front-end execution – revisit headings and copy phrases to tie-in. This gives both human readers and web crawlers the relevant terms they seek.

In parallel, when you choose front-end CTA terms — Learn More, Download, Get Quote — be sure users will find similar terms on the destination page you’ll take them to. Give them “handles” to grab onto and make obvious connections to the intent driving their visit.

4. Build lead capture into all URLs: from your consumers’ perspective. You want to capture contact info. Your customer may be happy giving it to you – if you present a worthy benefit. An example: For obvious reasons, an auto insurance client wanted prospects to share their policy expiration date. A prospect’s willingness to do that is very low, and resistance to share high. The copywriter’s solution? While it may seem unconnected, crafting the CTA “How fast can you get me a quote if my coverage expires on < fill in date >?” gave prospects a rationale to provide the desired detail. 80% of responders willingly entered their data.

5. “Break” the code on tracking. Clients often find this critical step a troublesome barrier. Fortunately, it can often be corrected without exorbitant time or cost. Full “DIY” details would take us well beyond this post, but the basics are fairly straightforward. In short, you’ll want a bank of 800#s and URLs, plus a dynamic call tracking tool. Married to well-designed website URLs and landing pages and following cross-channel principles noted above, tracking responders across channels may not be “easy,” but it is very realistic and practical to implement.

When all is said and done, our experiences show helping consumers travel across channels to generate leads — and sales — is very doable. And tracking response and revenue to measure ROI is a practical reality. Analysis of response and sales data in these cases show that engaging prospects across multiple channels does indeed convert leads to sales at a higher rate.

It works! If you’re wondering about the mechanics or developing high-performance programs, strategies, and tactics, please feel free to contact us for added insight.