In today’s world, there are more ways than ever to connect with customers. Phone calls, emails, social media posts, traditional print, text messages, push notifications and handwritten notes create a dizzying array of options for outreach. 

With so many options, many of us just choose the easiest approach: email. However, with the average office worker receiving 96 emails per day, according to the Radicati group, a technology market research firma strong multi-channel strategy may be required to break through the din.

Even better, a multi-channel strategy could be your first step in creating a positive experience for a prospect or reinforce a relationship with an existing customer.

Before launching your next campaign, take the time to think through the five C’s of multi-channel outreach. This simple framework assists in organizing how your marketing will tie to your other initiatives and optimize it for efficacy.

1. Customer

The first “C” of outreach is “Customer”. Who will you be contacting through your campaign? Traditionally, this might be blasting a giant target list of potential customers.  However, this could also be a campaign to thank existing customers when they make their third purchase, or e-commerce prospects when they abandon their shopping cart. Before proceeding, decide exactly who will be receiving the communication and when.

An evergreen strategy to thank repeat buyers will look very different than a one-time outreach strategy.

2. Content (and Customization)

Now that you have a clear view of your target, it’s time to draft your messaging outline.  At this stage, come up with the key points you want to communicate. As a strong multi-channel marketing campaign obviously requires multiple touchpoints, don’t draft the final communication just yet, as the next three C’s will certainly impact your messaging. 

According to a 2017 study by Segment, a company that helps brands manage customer analytics, 71 percent of consumers get frustrated when their shopping experience is impersonal, and 40 percent of U.S. consumers actually buy more expensive items when their experience was personalized. How can each message be customized and personalized to appeal to your target?

3. Channels

How are you going to get in front of your customer? If you’re targeting a younger audience, perhaps a mix of email, text and social media messaging might be the right approach.  Older demographics might rely heavier on phone outreach and traditional print. If personalized experiences are critical, perhaps handwritten notes should be considered.

By its very nature a multi-channel campaign should spread cross channel, with each touchpoint building on the last. 

4. Cadence

Multi-channel outreach requires a plan for timing. When should each piece be received? Should a text message follow an email? If so, how long should you wait? Will a phone call follow a print piece? If sending multiple pieces in a row, determining the over-all engagement timeline is critical.  

A well thought-out campaign can keep your brand top of mind. A poorly constructed campaign could be annoying and create “campaign fatigue” or be considered spam.  

5. Control

The final “C”, “Control”, is here to keep you in check.

In an ideal world, each customer would have total control over how they are to be contacted. While certain communication mechanisms, such as email and text messaging, are highly regulated and demand a full understanding of rules and regulations, be sure to use common sense in all of your outreach efforts, even those with less regulations.

Developing an engaging multi-channel strategy can easily separate you from your competition.  By personalizing each interaction, you can drive sales, increase engagement and improve customer loyalty. All it takes is a little planning.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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