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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Do Customer Communication Preferences Matter? You Bet They Do!

My friend Phil admits he’s “not a phone- person.” So when I want to connect with Phil and find out the latest and greatest about his startup adventure, I email him to set up a face-to-face lunch.
My friend Sarah travels quite a bit and is impossible to reach on her cell phone. The best way for me to keep up with Sarah’s life is to read her Facebook statuses or follow her on Twitter.
And while my mom tells me she’s quite tech savvy among her friends, my mom thinks email is too impersonal and insists I pick up the phone at least once a week.
In today’s digitally connected world, you are confronted with juggling various communication preferences on a daily basis. Your friends only want to be texted; your family will only accept a phone call. With so many ways to stay in touch and share information, it’s not surprising that each person has his or her own distinct communication preference.
Chances are you have a pretty good idea of how your closest friends and family like to correspond.  But when it comes to business relationships, do you know which form of communication your clients, customers or prospects prefer? If you do happen to know, do you honor or ignore their preferences? And if you don’t know, do you think using their preferred communication method would have an impact on sales?
You already know the importance of engaging and building relationships with clients, customers and prospects, right? Well, it turns out delivering the right marketing message via one’s preferred communication channel is an important part of the sales and marketing equation. Here are a few benefits to using your customers’ preferred communication method:
Build Trust
Sales guru Bob Burg sums it up best. “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.” If I know Phil is not a “phone guy,” and I really want his attention, then leaving him multiple voicemails is a waste of my time and his.
As you foster relationships with prospects and even existing customers, ask them for their communication preferences and then correspond with them through their preferred method.
If your primary method of communication with customers is via email through your marketing automation platform, then determine how frequently your customers wish to be emailed. And be sure to measure and track their communication preferences when you launch new campaigns. Simple acts like this build trust by showing people you respect their personal preferences.
Increase Share of Mind
Research suggests consumers are exposed to 3,000-20,000 marketing messages each day via a myriad of communications channels (e.g. mobile, print ads, emails, social media, online ads, and more). So how can you increase the odds of gaining share of mind?  Assuming you have the right message (and let’s hope you do!), make sure you deliver it in the format your prospects are most likely to pay attention to. If I need to grab Sarah’s attention, I will send her a tweet or Facebook message, not a postcard.
Improve ROI
How many hours do you spend crafting and perfecting the messages you deliver to prospects? If you outsource this type of work, how much money do you spend retaining an agency or copywriter to come up with compelling copy for all of your marketing programs? Now imagine delivering your message via email marketing that never converts. Or imagine posting your most intriguing and persuasive content on your Facebook page and no one makes a comment. Crickets…crickets. Given how much time and money you invest upfront, doesn’t it make sense to spend just as much time figuring out your prospects’ or customers’ preferred communication medium?
Test your communication methods over time to determine which ones work best with your target audience. Today you may think the best way to reach your customer base is through outbound marketing techniques, but tomorrow you may realize that Twitter is really where they are spending their time.
In short, it’s challenging to break through the communications overload. And when you consider how many customer preferences you need to manage en masse, your head might spin. But with the right tools and approach, it’s possible to connect with your customers and prospects on their own terms. After all, if you don’t it will cost you sales, money and relationships and then your boss will deliver an undesirable message to you and it will sting no matter which communication channel he uses.
Do you know your customers’ or clients’ preferred communication? If so, how has this information enhanced your sales or relationships?

About the Guest Author: 
Dayna Rothman is Content Marketing Manager at Marketo. She runs the Marketo content initiatives and webinar program, and is also the managing editor of the Marketo blog. Dayna has extensive experience in content marketing, social media, marketing automation, and inbound marketing. She has an MBA from Golden Gate University and lives in Oakland, CA.

                               Follow me on Twitter: @dayroth | Connect on LinkedIn: Dayna Rothman 

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