Once objectives for a new digital strategy are defined & before racing into tactics like Facebook or Twitter, consider Channels vs Touchpoints. View your customers behaviours and how to influence each phase of their journey.

(At the end of this article there’s a visual flow diagram which summarises everything very simply)

I’d like to start by drawing a comparison between Gutenbergs printing press of the 1450s and the Internet today (courtesy of Sir John Hegarty at BBH). The printing press was originally conceived with the one objective: Printing Bibles. It was at least 25 years after its invention that it was adopted for mass printing and hundreds of years later for newspapers, magazines & doorstop flyers. The press was a huge technological advancement of its day or a channel so to speak, and the communications or content were touchpoints, that engaged with the readership. Multi-channel Marketing is similar with Twitter Linkedin and Pinterest as channels for the content we produce.

Social Media – is a free & easy press for publishing noise about brands and products – and that’s the problem. Used incorrectly Social Media is almost useless. In the best cases, it can ignite or wipeout a brand. However, Brands are quick to draw insights about the effectiveness and value of social media before looking inward at how targeted or engaging the content they publish is.

Measure how consumers behave and join in

I recommend using a social measurement tool before creating content. Google’s ThinkInsights or Experians Mosaic tools can help you to understand what your consumers engage with, but equally watching what your competitors are doing can also give you readings. Studying the social sphere saves on assumptions which are often value-less and waste time. Once you have a view on audience needs and behaviours you can plan a critical path from awareness & influence to eventual engagement & ultimately – selling. These four quadrants make up the multi-channel buyer journey (visualised below) and your social content ought to be feeding one of these areas otherwise it has no purpose.

Before you race into tactics and actions though, first consider, which of your ideas are are Channels and which parts are are ‘Touchpoints’. For instance, you can see here Facebook is not a tactic. You don’t a ”do a Facebook post’ without an idea first and considering which part of the buyer journey you are fulfilling.

Channels vs. TouchPoints – explained

Let’s start with an example. A successful ‘touchpoint’ could be described as a picture of a cat dressed as Chewbacca holding a mini light-sabre and me asking my friends for comments or captions. Theengagement rate that comes from this is no accident.

This is because:

  • Rule 1: it’s very, very funny
  • Rule 2: most of my friends love Star Wars. Finally
  • Rule 3: I have invited interaction.

When people like or leave a comment this is known as a Touchpoint, and for me this is the only valuable type of social media. The table below shows the ‘content marketing matrix’ as defined by Smart Insights.com, which is an ‘almost exhaustive’ plan of every channel available to marketeers – don’t get confused between channels and touch points though!

So how is this relevant in the multichannel sales journey?

The above examples are very simple, however, they do illustrate there is strategy in every successful social media communication – very little is achieved by accident.

Depending on your consumers stage in the sales journey, you can plan which type of channel to use and deploy the most relevant content. Think about the quadrants; Awareness, Influence, or Point-of-Sale and what Post Sales Strategy you’ll use to ensure you have enough targeted content for each phase.

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment or ask a question.

Other Useful resources

http://www.first10.co.uk/testimonials/content-matrix-infographic/

http://www.experian.co.uk/assets/business-strategies/brochures/Mosaic_UK_2009_brochure.pdf

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Emarketing-Excellence-Planning-Optimizing-Marketing/dp/0415533376/ref=pd_sim_b_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=00VSHSR8W1K4MEZYQG59

http://www.google.co.uk/think/industries/

By Paul Stratford
Google+