8 ways to build a contact strategy that optimises your customer journey

A contact strategy is a core component of any customer marketing programme – it’s where you design, build and govern how you will deliver personally relevant communications to your customers across the customer journey.

With lots of communication channels, customer segments and ever-changing, more complicated customer journeys, it can be a daunting strategy to develop.

Follow these 8 steps to simplify your approach and build a contact strategy that will have a measurable effect on customer experience.

Let’s start by clarifying some key definitions:

  • Contact Strategy (CS) – specifies how you will contact and communicate with your customers and prospects. Its purpose is to deliver the right message at the right time to a customer. And it should include how you will measure and optimise these communications over time. Your CS should be a direct consequence of your marketing strategy and marketing objectives.
  • Customer Journey – the path that consumers take to becoming a customer and (hopefully) becoming a regular, recurring customer for your business. You will acquire and build relationships with consumers through a multitude of touchpoints. Customer journey mapping is the process of documenting this: capturing how the journey as it is now and specifying how you want it to look in the future.

The 8 Steps

The process assumes that you already have:

  • An understanding of your performance across the customer journey 
  • Strategic priorities – based on opportunity or risk.
  • You have built personas to use as guide for your ideation sessions

If this isn’t the case then complete these steps first. 

1. Choose a customer journey stage

Trying to build a CS for the entire journey at the same time is going to be impossible. And worse you will end up with something generic. Instead, select a key part of the journey – at a macro level these could be Attract, Convert, Nurture or Keep. You will need to have mapped the journey to start this process so stop and complete this before embarking on the process.

2. Break the stage into steps

Now break your chosen stage into steps. Let’s take the Nurture stage as an example. This could consist of the following steps.

  • Welcome
  • Onboard
  • Repeat purchase (make a second purchase)

Pick one of these steps and start move to the next stage. 

3. Build your value proposition

So you know the step in the journey that you want to concentrate on, now you need to build your value propositionValue proposition development should start with the customer or prospects and an understanding of their needs, pains and goals

4. Segments

This is a bridging point between your personas and your segmentation. Read this post to understand the distinction between the two tools. The key point is that personas are qualitatively-led and archetypes of consumers. For your strategy you need something that is quantitative and can be rule driven within your data and marketing automation tools.

Data analysis is therefore needed to segment your personas

5. Specify your communications

There are two considerations here:

  • Are your communications ‘core’ or ‘test’? Core communications are the mainstay of your strategy. Tests are constructed to help you measure and optimise.
  • Secondly, what are you communicating? These could be core services, pushed incentives or rewards that you wish to offer to certain segments at a certain step in the journey. 

6. Build business processes

You need to build controls into your strategy and this happens at this stage. Consider how you govern who gets what (priorities) and how you ensure that suppressions and opt-ins are built in. 

7. Qualification

Now specify the type of communication you will deliver at this step. We categorise a communication as a campaign, an event or a trigger. Each has a different level of appeal, targeting and purpose.

8. Channel selection

Finally, you get to decide the communication channels that you will be using. Email, SMS, direct mail, push notifications etc and their combinations.

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