The more people you reach, the better - that’s always been the strategy. The bus creeping past you with the latest cut-and-paste Hollywood blockbuster plastered along its side. The wacky furry animal commercial, which may or may not be about insurance, in between reality TV segments. The first 14 pages of a magazine dedicated to handbag adverts. The Facebook video that gets a bunch of thumbs up and stock emoji reactions. And yet, despite the saturation, this kind of reach is important - after all, broad reach is often where many of your potential customers come across your brand, or for example, how you get them to download an app.
However, this somewhat manic and non-personal broadcasting is just one aspect of reach, and belongs very much at the top of that funnel. What you do next to communicate with your potential customers is just as important. We are living in an age where businesses can and should use the enormous amounts of user data they collect via digital channels to reach deeper into customer relationships. Or put simply, a reach that talks to people at an individual level on a channel that suits them best. It’s what customers expect these days, and the relentless advance of technology plays a major role in how you communicate as a brand.
We are living in an age where businesses can and should use the enormous amounts of user data they collect via digital channels to reach deeper into customer relationships.
So how do you this? Well, you can of course continue with what you are already doing, although we wouldn’t recommend it. This almost certainly consists of email, but the days of it being the dominant customer communication tool are fading, as lower opt-in and read rates mean that it doesn’t reach everyone - in fact far from it - while SMS is quickly becoming a relic. And above the line marketing, like TV, radio, print etc is, by its nature, not targeted. On-site marketing relies on people coming back, which is precarious at best. So as it stands your targeted communications are probably only hitting a minority percentage of your customer base, perhaps as low as 10%. How do you improve on this? Well, you need to cover more channels to expand your reach - which is where other technologies step in.
New Channels Expand Your Reach
At the center of it all is the smartphone. Recent research claims that there are 2.53 billion smartphone users worldwide. Pretty much all of your customers have one that they will spend on average around 4 hours a day using. That’s a hell of an amount of a potential audience that can be reached. Furthermore, if users have downloaded your app, it enables you to collect a huge amount of behavioral data about them. You can then use this customer insight data to communicate in ways never before possible at such scale, by building accurate and relevant audiences based on past and present actions with specific payloads and targeting them with personalized and contextual messages. For example, a film streaming service could target users with campaign cross selling films to fans of particular actors e.g. users who have watched at least 2 films in the past 60 days starring Jennifer Lawrence would get a message encouraging them to watch her latest film through the app.
But the smartphone has been joined recently by other channels that will help you expand your reach even further, for example: smart watches, web push, voice assistant devices and OTT media. It can be easy to get carried away by the novelty of these new technologies, or indeed the opposite and see them as passing trends, but the reality is that they are legitimate new channels that are growing in popularity. In the US alone, 44 million voice assistant devices (Google Home and Amazon Echo) had been sold by the end of 2017, and more than 49 million homes in the US use at least one OTT service. These kind of numbers are not to be ignored, and should form part of a truly cross-channel marketing strategy. The dynamic orchestration of campaigns across these new channels, delivering highly targeted messages on the optimal channel for a specific customer, makes your reach incredibly powerful. And data collected through these new channels can also be used to open up a wider reach for more established channels, for example more meaningful retargeted ads for your online audience, or richer and more personalized emails.
The upside will be improvements in the numbers that matter to you, such as an increase in LTV and a reduction in the average cost of acquisition per user. Having spent an eye watering amount on acquiring users it’s vital to keep as many as you can, and then deliver targeted nurturing campaigns to convert new users into paying customers.
And yet there are still enterprises that stare back blankly at the question “what are you doing on mobile?”, let alone other newer channels. If you think that focusing the majority of your efforts and budget on email and TV is still the way to maximize your reach, then there is a good chance that you are wrong. Put simply, if you aren’t taking mobile and its new friends seriously, then you aren’t taking reach seriously. Oh, and one more thing: 2017 saw higher ad-spend on mobile than TV for the first time in the UK. The reach is expanding.