Channel Choice


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We inhabit a world in which media is fragmenting into a bewildering variety of choices. Companies are faced with an increasing range of channels through which they can communicate. At the same time, there is an increasing expectation among consumers that they should have choice when it comes to which communication channel is used.

What’s more, consumers are showing an increasing tendency to shop around and switch brands. Not only is it a growing headache for marketers to keep their existing customers, but it is becoming more challenging for them to then increase the amount of profitable business each customer does with a company.

With consumers experiencing more options than ever, it essential that marketers establish lines of communication with customers and prospects through multiple channels. This becomes especially important if brands want to develop their own loyalty schemes, engage consumers with promotions, and gather customer data for better targeting and insights.

So while establishing dialogue with customers through different channels can be vital for companies and their brands, the question remains: how important is it to consumers themselves? Very important, according to a survey of 2,000 UK consumers commissioned by Blueview.

Offering consumers channel choice does more than provide a platform for companies to speak with their customers – it helps gain their business in the first place and then ensure their ongoing loyalty. This finding comes through loud and clear in the survey’s results. If a UK company does not offer communication choice, then potential buyers are much less likely to purchase its products and existing customers are much more likely to switch to a competitor.

The survey showed that, when considering purchasing from companies they have never bought from before, 66% of UK consumers said they would be extremely unlikely to buy from a company that does not offer them their preferred channel of communication. And 61% said that, if a brand they currently use failed to offer them choice of channel, they would look for a competitor that does.

In other words, at the most basic level, marketers need to make multiple communications options available and find out what those favoured channels are across their customer base – whether that is through mail, email, web, phone or face-to-face.

And if customers and prospects are to be offered channel choice, then communication activity for each medium also needs to deliver the all-important high return on investment. Specifically, the messages, promotions, offers, events and incentives delivered through those channels need to be targeted, tailored and absolutely relevant to the recipient. This may involve anything from a customer birthday greeting with an offer, to a live event the consumer may be interested in, to a personalised URL with targeted information or a specific promotion. Each communication or contact should include an opportunity for the company to capture data and further refine targeting and relevance for the consumer.

Multi-channel, targeted communication needs to be data-driven. Tracking which content drives the customer towards a purchase and which doesn’t engage them provides valuable long-term insight into likes and dislikes as well as other factors like response times and redemption of offers.

The time has passed when brands could largely favour a single communication channel for dialogue with their customers. Smart marketers are now concentrating on achieving the optimal channel balance for their customer base. Capturing customer – and prospect – communications preferences is therefore a fundamental first step for leading marketers, as is intelligent analysis of that information and related data with the aim of boosting customer revenue and profitability.

Darren Ponsford
Darren is Strategy & Planning Director at Blueview Group. Previous roles include Group Director, Regional Development at Wunderman, with responsibility for Ford Motor Company brands; and Head of Marketing at Suzuki GB PLC, where he helped refocus the company around CRM and shift the emphasis to a fully integrated approach.


  1. Great inisghts, Kristen. It is critical that organizations can support different channels and methods of contact. Brought to mind a study completed by Forrester where they were examining the best customer communication output technologies. They would not even consider a platform unless it supported transaction, on-demand and interactive contacts. If interested, can download their report at


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