E-mail and social are invitations to multi-channel conversations


There's no doubt we live in a cross-channel world where consumers flit from e-mail to social media to mobile and back and forth with traditional media. When futurist Alvin Toffler first warned about the technology revolution causing "information overload", it seems he may have forgotten the human ability to adapt.

Rather than curling up in a fetal position and sobbing, most of us have taken an assertive approach and decided to dictate terms to media as opposed to having media dictate to us.

The reason for this lies in the fundamental nature of new media - it is interactive and not passive. Information overload isn't so much a problem with volume as it is participation. We are input-output creatures and when information is being pushed to us without any consideration of interaction, we overload and become zombies.

Just observe a TV viewer and compare them to a PC user. In general, a PC user is at least moving and seems to be animated because they must interact with the device in order to use it.

The passivity of traditional media is the biggest weakness. The linear nature means that you have to wait for it to feed hungry brains the snacks of information or entertainment craved.

The cross-channel customers decides

On the other hand, we have digital media. In the online world you choose the channels, the pace and the order of the information flow. Today's consumer has a whole new vision of what comparison shopping means. Today this means multiple channels of information and then cross referencing that information via a number of channels to be sure they have made the right purchase decision.

Today we have consumers going into stores then using their smart phones to price compare. They'll text a friend and ask them about a product or do a quick search for any negative comments or posts about the product. The consumer is now in control of how they interact with your brand.

Now they expect you to understand this and be available to work at their schedule and pace. The days of the TV pitchman are done. At best a TV ad for example is an introduction. And it's not just traditional media either! Even e-mail marketing is really just an invitation to a conversation. And so are social media interactions. Once the introduction is made, the cross-channel consumer decides how that conversation will go (if at all) and what channels it will take place in.

You can initiate the conversation, but you don't control it once it has begun. You must be prepared to answer the multi-channel consumer across whatever channels they travel and be prepared to respond. The consumer has the power and smart companies know they not only need a plan, but the technology to ensure the answers are there on every channel when the questions are asked.

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Summary : The hottest topic in marketing and communication is without any doubt social media marketing. Although many businesses are still testing the waters, many others have successfully integrated social media in their marketing mix.