How to Play Whack-a-Mole

Irony can be really helpful sometimes. Take for instance an email offer I just got promoting a webinar touting “key considerations, strategies and next steps for optimizing offers across every marketing channel.” I run a company that specializes in cross-channel offer optimization, so that’s a pitch perfect message to me. How could I resist seeing how someone else approaches the hard work of leveraging data, offers, content, and all human touchpoints to achieve friction-less commerce bliss? Eagerly, I clicked through the email and ended up on a landing page that, of course, wasn’t optimized for mobile. Ha.

I’ve written a lot about mending the gaps in the consumer journey, and the primary feedback we hear is “it’s like playing whack-a-mole,” and we agree. You can’t solve these problems in an essay, a book, a webinar, or with a few conversations. That being said, here are a few rules of thumb to help you whack some moles that pop up in your consumer engagement strategies.

1. Keep it easy Back to that email. As I scrolled back and forth across oversized images to read a bulleted list that was making a mess of margins, I, the most relevant of possible targets, had to escape this format and disregard the offer. They lost me! The irony was yet another reminder of how being relevant and timely—especially in our mobile-crazy, distracted society—isn’t always enough. It has to be easy too.

2. Your consumer will be distracted. They say knowing is half the battle. Keeping it easy means you will also need to realize where your consumer is mentally—and that is a state of constant distraction. Consider a recent Nielsen survey that revealed close to half of smartphone and tablet owners use their mobile device while watching TV. Among tablet owners, 76% looked up general information, while 68% surfed the Web, and 53 % visited a social networking site. Call it multitasking, call it rapid fire mono-tasking or whatever you want, the bottom line is this: Brands increasingly have a significant set of challenges when it comes to being timely, relevant, and easy.

3. All roads will lead through mobile eventually. Consider what I found to be the most astounding data nugget from that same Nielsen study: 20% of tablet owners purchased a product or service that was being advertised. Whether you’re feeding information via email, TV commercials, direct mail, telephone, or billboards, chances are good that your relationship is going to be routed through mobile at some point. Be ready for that. Test that message before you send it.

4. Consistency is key. The old adage about children craving predictability is true and perhaps something no one out grows. If I want surprises, it better be delightful. While the way you say something can and should vary based on where it’s received, consumers want the same company experience wherever they go. This means using the same price listed in your commercial or on your direct mail piece as also appears on your website—both desktop and mobile versions. If I see an offer on TV, log in on my tablet, and can’t find the same offer on your website (whether it’s hard to find or not there at all), I’m off the train. My journey as your customer has ended. Extend this consistency across all channels and across all departments. Your sales team should be delivering the same kind of experience as your marketing team. This is key to eliminating confusion—and frustration—among your customers.

While consumers are leaping from one channel to the next, sometimes simultaneously, it’s critical that marketers consider the right message at the right time with the utmost consistency across departments and channels. We don’t want our customers falling through the cracks because we didn’t build the right bridge for them.

Mike Caccavale is CEO of Pluris Marketing and an expert in cross-channel offer optimization.

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