Digital marketers know how important it is to deliver consistent brand messages across digital channels. But simply talking about engaging customers through these rapidly emerging channels and actually deploying an effective cross-device marketing strategy are two entirely different stories.
The difficulty of deploying a cross-device approach begins with the seemingly endless proliferation of digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. According to Nielsen, consumers in the U.S. spend an average of 60 hours per week consuming content on the devices that give them the ability to access information about your brand 24/7 from anywhere in the world. Couple that with the average American owning four digital devices, and you’ve got a scenario where potential customers may be engaging with your brand several times a day on several different devices. This modern dynamic gives consumers the power to engage in both inbound and outbound marketing at their discretion, taking the ball out of marketers’ hands and placing it in the customer’s court as they search and shop for products and services on their own terms. The rules of engagement have changed. If your brand is going to keep consumers interested in your products and offers, then you are going to have to effectively coordinate your messages across a number of digital marketing channels. So how can your enterprise keep messages consistent for cross-device marketing?
Big Data Doesn’t Have to Mean Big Problems
Before a wide variety of affordable digital devices surged onto the market and into the hands of eager consumers, marketers kind of had it made. That’s not to say that our jobs were easy, but marketing departments definitely had more control over what customers could learn and find out about their brands through outbound marketing channels. Those were the days when customers had limited access to products or brand information, few price comparison points, and limited delivery options. Now that customers have the ability to interact with brands in real-time through the digital devices of their choice, what was once a one-way street has diverged into two, with many enterprises struggling to keep up with the influx of potentially valuable consumer data. Such data can help marketers engage with consumers in more relevant and incremental ways—as long as marketers are prepared to handle it. Digital devices create many opportunities for marketers to engage with customers, capture information, and receive feedback to deliver better offers in the future. But the proliferation of digital devices means companies must be fully equipped and prepared for a steady stream of incoming consumer data around the clock.
Consistent Messaging Across Diverse Digital Screens
The essence of cross-device marketing involves creating content to meet the needs of every digital channel. Although content should be repurposed when applicable, focusing on unique ways to deliver the same overall message on different digital screens means integrating your message into content designed for the specific digital device you are targeting. For example, if you’re creating an email targeting desktop users, you’ve got more leeway to work with images and text than you would on a mobile device. Large images that look great on a desktop or laptop may render a mess on mobile, and small digital screens on smartphones mean every line counts, leaving little room for fluff. Further message refinement might be necessary when engaging consumers through a social network, and even more so when sending push notifications. You have the ability to get creative here, as long as the overall message remains consistent across digital channels. Another consideration when approaching connected screens is message context. Ask yourself questions like, “Who is my audience?” and “What is the context of that audience?” Push notifications should be straight to the point for audiences on the go, whereas landing pages may provide in-depth information for consumers sitting still. Always consider different screen sizes of cross-device channels while keeping your message in the right context.
Start With What You Know
As if engaging consumers on smartphones and tablets wasn’t enough to keep your marketing department busy, the steady wave of digital devices isn’t expected to let up, well, ever. According to analysts at Gartner, an estimated 25 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020. That’s 25 billion potential touch points for marketers to engage consumers on. Talk about having your work cut out for you. But having access to billions of digital devices doesn’t mean you should attempt to connect with customers on every single one. When it comes to deciding which channels to focus your digital-marketing efforts on, go where your audience will find you. If your audience doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter, then don’t invest time in those channels. Your primary focus should be on starting with what you know before expanding your efforts to determine where your audience is most receptive. Never invest time where you don’t have a receptive audience.
Create Consistent Cross-Device Messages That Truly Connect
The concept of connected screens and cross-device marketing doesn’t mean taking a single, specific message and duplicating it across as many digital devices as possible. Rather, cross-device marketing is about taking your overall message and keeping it consistent by following the customer journey incrementally across different devices. This means creating an incremental interaction based on previous interactions on one channel that will influence the next. Take a popular hotel delivering messages across digital channels to enhance the customer journey. Perhaps they’ll create emails to remind future guests about their hotel reservations, or deliver succinct reservation confirmations through push notifications. This hotel may even consider pushing SMS to make hotel check-ins a breeze, while wrapping things up with social media engagement, allowing customers to express their satisfaction with their recent experiences. All of these messages may vary in appearance and length, but they share a key takeaway: keeping messages consistent isn’t about having the exact same message across every single channel. Work to improve the way your company processes data, consider the most effective digital devices and channels to engage consumers on, and start with what you know.