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Digital & Social Communications – ignore, adjust or optimise?

We are more connected than ever, yet actually reaching people has never been harder!

 

Digital social email sms automation methodsCertainly that’s what we see from both ours and our clients’ perspective and it was brought into sharp focus preparing for leading a session on how technology can help growth with the Worldwide Association of Girl Guides and Scouts (WAGGGS) last week.

In the session one of the main subject areas was the diversification of digital communications channels – phone, email, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook, Pinterest, Viber, Twitter, Instagram and QR codes were a handful of the 20+ methods mentioned by the audience.

I suspect if we had more time we could have looked at regional differences and also teased out the differences between what is used, and what is of use – which are, of course, completely different things.

Yet, there is little doubt in our mind that when we look at the current digital landscape, this developing complexity is a continuing trend resulting in more fragmented and complex communications.

So, given this, any business or organisation need to consider an appropriate response; we have identified three possible reactions to these developments:

1. Ignore: keep on keeping on

The first response is to keep doing what you are doing. Let’s say your preference is email – you can simply say: ‘no email means no email’. It’s the recipients’ fault for not having an email address, so be it. Clearly it is they who need to change.

Yet, this approach ignores two really important considerations. Firstly, these are not just anonymous users, they are your stakeholders – the life-blood of your organisation. Even if the win is short term, and the blame is passed on, you are distancing yourself from them. And, the medium-term result is that many will drift away and become less engaged or participatory. Hardly ‘inclusive’?

Secondly, your reach through your stakeholders to others is increasingly reliant on digital. Email tends to be the most user-friendly method, but not being a ‘social’ tool, has little ripple-effect opportunity for others to like, share or post.

2. Adjust: start pedalling…

So, the next response is to adapt to suit the range of channels – don’t just email, but also text, call, post and tweet. Make sure everyone is reached, ideally through at least one channel. Setup accounts in different social media, manage all the responses.

The problems start mounting, though. Firstly, this is reliant on the individual having the capacity to manage all these channels and, if they have other work to do, it isn’t reasonable to expect them to be spending all their waking hours managing this diversification of dialogue.

Secondly, the increasing range of channels makes this approach self-defeating. Just as they master the ten channels in front of them, another three get added. Then one changes. Then five of their recipients move from one to another.

In the context of the meeting with WAGGGS, most of the frontline staff are volunteers, and many have ‘day jobs’ and  need to focus most of their attention on preparing and managing the actual events (not just the communication of what is happening). They deal with small groups, with sometimes as few as ten recipients. Catering for all options equally and doing it all manually is not going to happen.

3. Optimise: use the modern method

So, if we know that we cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach, but we also realise that managing all these channels is going to be too onerous on those using the systems, what can we do about it? We need help, the right kind of help. Selecting the right solution is crucial to delivering the right stakeholder experience.

The answer is ‘software’ as it can not only help manage the sends, lists and channels, but should be able to make it faster to send in the first place. It could even make this ‘multi-sending’ more efficient than sending one email. However giving the answer ‘software’ is not very helpful for the purposes of meeting this specific need.

So, let’s look at the constituent parts to help identify the right solution:

  • Cloud based: the software needs to be in the Internet so that it doesn’t limit the user to a single machine or location to be managed
  • Global: the software needs to be available wherever it is needed. The company office doesn’t need to be global, but the software needs to function across boundaries without license issues
  • Versatile: the software needs to be a multi-channel communication solution. Most just do email. Some offer chat and SMS. But you need more options than that.
  • Intuitive: the interface needs to be easy to use and easy to understand. With simple e-learning the user can get to know the system and be able to start sending without the need for great technical knowledge
  • Programmable: the system should involve some kind of decision-making system where users can either programme in specific logic for sending, for escalations (i.e. if no response to email, send text) and even receiving responses. This is more than just automation – it is smart, flexible logic

 

Summary: the future, realised

Love your marketing channelsThe truth with most customer software is that it was built at a time when most businesses wanted solely to move from spreadsheets or paper notes to something that stored information digitally. When we were running our WAGGGS session, the name of a very well-known CRM software platform was mentioned. Although this particular business is very successful and ideal for operating business follow up, it doesn’t have the capabilities needed to truly deliver.

What is needed is something where the emotive is not replaced by the mechanical, but is facilitated by it. So that the recipients don’t think that they’re being managed by a robot, but they are being reached by their point of contact.

That’s what we did when we created Omny.Link – we wanted to develop a modern software, built with stakeholders in mind, that didn’t claim to do everything in a ever-expanding box of tricks.

It helps organisations build from the ground upwards. Connect up what you want to connect, deliver what you want to deliver and uses a decision engine to run everything as seamlessly as possible. So why not use your preferred email solutions, your preferred website CMS, your preferred reporting tools – but using APIs and our open-source solution, it all gets connected up: your way!

Which means there’s a much greater likelihood of reaching your stakeholders in the ways they want to be reached. So you see, you don’t have to sacrifice connectivity in your bid to reach people, you just need the right technology.

Omny.Link – do more with your stakeholder communications.

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