For a message to be really effective, it must be sent using the right medium, or channel. Choosing that channel can be difficult, because there are so many to select from, and the number keeps growing.
Part of the challenge is the mixture of systems in use by customers, suppliers and business partners. Some have a preference for email while others are happy to exchange texts or tweets from their phone.
To help you decide which option could be right for your message, we’ve put together a short guide to help you choose the right channel.
Email is, in many ways, the digital replacement for letters and internal memos. It’s an effective way to pass on information to an individual or group. The contents of an email are visible only the sender and the recipient, making it relatively easy to keep private.
Marketing through email newsletters is becoming increasingly popular, and again, it’s replacing much of the promotional mail that used to come through the letterbox.
The limitations of email are that it can only be read from a screen, and it’s easily lost in an inbox packed with other messages. It can also be over-used, with messages being sent to too many recipients.
While most people have at least one email account, access is not universal. Some people choose not to use it, preferring either paper or one of the newer, shorter forms of messaging.
Mobile phones have made it very easy to speak to almost anyone, wherever they are. A short phone conversation is often the quickest way to discuss issues and resolve problems. It’s also an effective way of passing on information with the knowledge that it’s been received.
However, it has the disadvantage that comes with all verbal communication – there is no written record of what’s been said or agreed.
Some are deterred from making what they consider to be ‘difficult’ phone calls because of their interactive nature. However, there’s a human element to a phone conversation that can lead to the resolution of situations which, if discussed in written form, could escalate.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a host of other new social media systems are the new way for businesses and customers to talk. They are becoming very popular as both marketing and customer service channels.
One of the big differences between social media and other communication is the public nature of most exchanges. This has to be carefully considered by any organisation getting involved with it.
A large proportion of social media activity is carried out from mobile phones. As these devices become personal information hubs for their users, it’s becoming increasingly important to have ways of reaching people through them.
Texts are proving to be another way of getting short, timely messages out quickly and effectively. They are more likely to be read by the recipient than emails or social media posts.
They can be extremely useful in customer service situations, keeping customers up-to-date with what’s going on. However, mobile phone users are not so happy to receive marketing messages via text.
The ‘old fashioned’ letter still has a place in the world of digital communication. Words on paper are now considered to carry more weight, because they are more unusual. A letter, or other paper mailing, is also less likely to be binned unopened, in a way that many emails are.
There are many new innovative forms of communication which uses technology to stream line business activity. Some interesting communication initiatives include invoice finance to work extremely efficiently.