Understanding channel permanence

Even the things that live in obscurity can be reasonably permanent. The amount of storage that is used to house junk email must be shocking. The digital era has created a degree of permanence for some things. An email that was sent years ago can be retrieved in seconds. Students in college classes right now are watching advertisements and videos from around the 1970’s forward. Advertisements from iconic political campaigns seem to live on and are still being consumed. Most political advertisements from state and local elections do not enough that degree of permanence.

Thinking about contact channels

“Every contact channel comes with opportunity costs…”

Things are going to get harder. We are going to begin some deep knowledge analysis. We are about to change directions and start focusing on different contact channels in more detail. This next chapter in posts will be dedicated to reviewing the capabilities of different contact channels. Each of the channels will be reviewed as a separate use case. Different combinations of contact channels will be evaluated outside of this chapter. Multichannel contact strategies will be evaluated based on specific examples. This chapter of inquiry is about building a solid foundation to understand the pieces being put together. If each review was written well, then each contact channel described will provide the reader with the information necessary to both think about and understand the contact channel in question. Each section may also include the data on how influential this technology is based on users, costs, and accessibility.

Evidence based decision making

This might seem simple. It might seem straightforward. It is one of the things that organizations consistently get wrong. Walking down the path of building evidence based decision making is not easy. Just like campaigns are not easy. They have to be built and maintained. The entire campaign strategy process has to be based on the foundation of a strong evidence based decision making process. The facts are the facts. We gather information to inform our choices.

Strategies happen. Some of them are executed well. Some of them are not. You pretty much have to accept that organizations develop decision making in a variety of ways. People make plans. Executing those plans require people to make decisions. Making decisions happens in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. Within any organization strategic decision making and risk management plan an important role.

Sometimes along the path we run into situations where an organization has not built a strong compendium of key performance indicators. Sometimes an organization has not advanced enough to be running based on a strategic plan. Maybe one was never drafted. Things work best when the two items are working in harmony. Organizations with both have a clear path to success. However, we will discuss operationalizing a strategic plan in more detail in the coming days and months.

Within any organization the logical conclusion of building out strong evidence based decision making should be a strategic plan. It should be a strategic plan that is driving by a compendium of key performance indicators. That builds the basis of operationalizing a strategic plan.

Understanding respondent tolerance

Campaigns effect people in different ways. Some of them are memorable and some of them might as well have never happened. Just like even the best television commercials most of them fade out of memory. Admittedly, I will probably always remember the Budweiser frog commercials from 1995, but that is the exception not the rule. Respondents have different levels of tolerance for communication. No respondent wants to receive 10 phone calls per day. Just like nobody wants to receive 20 emails a week from the same campaign. A well-orchestrated symphony lets you hear and appreciate the different instruments. It also lets you appreciate how they work together. Figuring out how to get your communication to stand out and work together requires careful planning and a true understanding of what actions are being taken.

Please take a few moments and think about how credit card companies communicate with you. Sometimes they send weekly letters. Occasionally, they seem to call you over and over again. Some of them send tons of emails about promotional rates and great opportunities. Some of the campaigns try to generate a very real and exciting sense of urgency. They ask you to act now for extreme savings. Now think about how pizza companies try to contact you. Just like credit card companies they blanket multiple channels with advertisements. Some of them are targeted and some of them are just mass appeals to as many people as they can possibly reach.

Every day I generate a wide variety of prose. All of it follows three basic channels of distribution. Some of it is for this functional journal that is also shared to Twitter and Google+. Some of it is just ideas jotted down in my notebook for later analysis. Most of those ideas will never be anything more than a scribble. Some of them could be the start of seriously contemplation. The kind of contemplation that involves knocking on the sky and listening to the sound. With some luck, one day, one of them could be truly powerful. Steve Jobs described wanting to make a dent in the universe. That happened. Steve had an incredible and lasting impact on the way we experience the world.

All of those ideas in my notebook could be a message that respondents might tolerate. However, to be honest… most of the ideas that draw my attention and are ultimately scribbled in my notebook are probably not going to appeal to a wider audience. They might be overly technical. They might be extremely targeted at somewhat arcane topics. They might not be interesting. The hard part of the process is figuring out how to deliver communications in a way that is tolerable to a target audience.

Building up a truly rock solid multichannel contact strategy is about figuring out how to communicate within people in ways that will be acceptable. That means figuring out what is powerful about the message and working from that base. It means figuring out why the respondent will want to interact with or experience the content being provided. Consider for a moment that some of the campaigns from both credit card and pizza commercials attempt to be targeted. Some of them even use highly advanced multistage targeting models for online advertisements. Some part of the strategy is probably effective. Most of the strategies are ripe with inefficiencies that test respondent tolerance. Oddly enough, both of those business areas seem to continue down the path of blanket coverage. That probably continue as long as respondents tolerate intentional over-communication.

Understanding programmatic strategy

Project management has become an increasingly well-defined field of study. It popped up and was everywhere within the business world. People have made careers out of it. Entire organizations engage in rampant credentials surrounding it. The entire project management process ends up being described as portfolios, programs, and projects. It is really all about the simple question of getting things done. If you think of campaign modules as a series of projects, then it is to understand the need for a program level strategy. Each of the project timelines has to be evaluated against the overall program. At some levels programmatic effectiveness defines the success or failure of multichannel contact strategies in the long-run. As short cited as this plan might be, the best possible fundraising day might be achieved by building a ten channel contact strategy that focused on contacting everyone on the list several times in a day. That plan might yield a single day record, but it would have disastrous consequences for the longevity of the campaign.

Sustaining engagement takes more than you think

Great campaigns keep people engaged. Interacting with respondents is about more than just keeping in constant contact. Engagement and more to the point sustained engagement is about keeping a campaign population active and providing them with different opportunities to be involved. Consider for a moment a misguided campaign that simply asks for money once a week for a year. Assume that the campaign strategy involved sending out a weekly message via a few different channels asking for a contribution. Campaign effectiveness would spike in the first few weeks and flat line by week 52. The campaign would be better off focusing on a series of planned events that had an ebb and a flow vs. trying sustain the same level engagement via the same message for an entire year.