At one time or another, we all crave attention. We feel alone, so we reach out to friends and family in any way we can. From Facebook and Twitter, to phone calls and text messages, we do our best to make sure our voice can be heard by anyone willing to listen. But, just as such actions can make someone seem desperate, companies that exhibit similar behaviors are seen as annoying and relentless--two characteristics most brands typically try to avoid. Such organizations have clearly embraced emerging media, but this strategy (or lack thereof) can often deter customers and cause them to tune out future messaging entirely.Here, 1to1 Media speaks with John Oechsle, president and CEO of Swiftpage, to explore what impact excessive outreach can have on long-term loyalty and ways companies can effectively leverage numerous channels without risking overload and attrition:
1to1 Media: How can excessive outreach hinder a company's ability to connect with its target market?
John Oechsle: If you aren't careful, excessive outreach can quickly lead to valuable clients tuning your message out. For example, if you have a client who prefers to be contacted by email but you also call, tweet, and text him to ensure your message was received, you run the risk of him tuning you out altogether. Even if your target contact doesn't have a preferred method of contact, bombarding him with the same communication across multiple channels may adversely impact his interest in receiving your message.
Furthermore, as the technologies we use to communicate continue to mature, functionality that allows the user to block messages sent via social, phone, and email is becoming increasingly prevalent. The more you cross the line by excessively reaching out, the more likely you are to be added to a blocked list, thus preventing your target audience from receiving future messages from you or your organization.
1to1: How can companies juggle the proliferation of contact channels without overloading both themselves and their customers?
JO: Make sure you have the data, tools, and other resources available to not only determine who your target market is, but how they'd like to be contacted, when they'd like to be contacted, and for what purpose. The right customer relationship management tools can even help recommend what steps to take next once you've received a response from the object of your outreach. Perhaps even more importantly, the right tools can help you determine how best to approach secondary outreach to a customer who hasn't yet responded. It's a delicate balance between making sure your target audience receives the message and taking the necessary steps to ensure you don't conduct excessive outreach, which may erode or even ruin the relationship.
1to1: What sort of benefits/challenges will social and mobile offer as these channels become more widespread and popular?
JO: As brands lend a listening ear to the chatter that is taking place on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and various other social media platforms, communicating with current and potential customers has become a necessity. Responding to a tweet demonstrates that your brand not only keeps pace with evolving technology platforms for communication, but also cares enough to ensure customer service does not fall through the cracks. Studies have shown that companies who respond to their customers are more likely to retain their business in addition to reaping the benefits of good word-of-mouth.
Unfortunately, not all experiences are positive when it comes to communicating through social media and mobile. When blunders such as the recent Home Depot "fail" occur, the public wastes no time in sharing and questioning the values of that business. While users, in general, appreciate the responsiveness of brands online it's important that companies recognize that a customer may be turned off if they are contacted too often. For example, when companies implement mobile texting for offers or discounts, customers will appreciate the occasional door-buster, but the daily or even weekly messages will cast a shadow over that relationship.
1to1: What are some essential elements companies must keep in mind when developing an effective--and less annoying--contact strategy?
JO: Developing an organized and well-thought out process for outreach is essential. Everyone needs to be on the same page so as to guard against outreach to the same target audience by multiple individuals or the same person who was unable to maintain a proper record of whom they've reached out to and whom they haven't. It's important that organizations understand the audience they are reaching out to, as well. You wouldn't necessarily reach out to twenty-somethings working in the technology space with the same frequency or through the same channels as you would a retired carpenter in his seventies. Before conducting outreach, make an effort to identify and understand your audience to put yourself in the best possible position for success.
Finally, simplicity is always an essential element of effective outreach. If you make things too complicated and attempt to drill down too far, you may narrow your target audience too far and miss out on reaching valuable contacts, make a mistake and end up conducting over-outreach anyway, or ultimately give up on your CRM system due to its cumbersome requirements. A simple, efficient solution--whether it be software, a system put in place organizationally, or some other method--is the best bet for avoiding over-outreach over the long-term.