A seamless cross-channel experience is something today’s consumers increasingly expect, with 27% of online shoppers saying they want a brand to provide services and products that help to simplify daily life.

According to Accenture Strategy, 51% of UK consumers are comfortable using multiple channels when online, even within a single interaction. Reaching these consumers is no longer about booking a prime TV ad space or running a homepage takeover.

Channel planning has grown both more complex and more important, presenting a tricky challenge for marketers who need to reach the right people, at the right time.

The secret to effective channel planning lies in mapping out the consumer journey and responding to the touchpoints that convert. Optimizing your channel planning in this way starts with some simple steps.

1. Identify your key personas

Start by knowing exactly who you’re targeting.

Create a handful of customer personas that bring these characters to life, drawing on key information such as age, gender, career and family to get a better understanding of who these people are.

From here, dig into more in-depth data to build out these personas – adding key insights into their needs, behaviors, interests and attitudes to translate what really defines them.

This will help you get inside the mind of your target customer and build that radical empathy you need to drive marketing that works.

2. Pinpoint the touchpoints that matter

To create a plan that delivers, you need to understand how, when and where your customers are likely to interact with your brand.

Identifying these essential touchpoints of the consumer journey means using data to guide your strategy from end to end.

When it comes to brand discovery for example, our latest statistics show that 43% of online mothers find brands through ads seen on television, or through search engines. In contrast, 3 in 10 millennials find brands via TV shows and films.

For product research, 40% of online mothers rely mostly on social media and customer reviews, while for millennials, search engines prove to be the most valuable tools.

This shows the key differences that exist among the various target personas at each stage of the purchase journey, and why it’s important to tap into this knowledge to deliver a message that sticks.

3. Determine the optimum channels

Your persona research will play a key role in telling you which channels to target.

This means identifying the channels your target consumers are most likely to use – from TV, brand websites and apps to social media platforms and review sites.

In today’s omni-channel world, consumers often refer to multiple channels simultaneously – for example, checking what people are saying on Twitter while watching TV, or browsing products via a laptop while messaging a friend via WhatsApp.

Our latest statistics show 60% of online adults are now using a mobile as they watch TV – a figure that has jumped by 14 points since 2012.

Knowing which channels your target personas use most (and how) will give you the insights you need to make an impact.

4. Develop the right content

Now you have the data to define your customers in as much detail as possible, you can develop the best content for the right medium.

Depending on the persona in question, this can range from branded content including ebooks, videos or blog posts to a series of display adverts. Knowing what kind of content will work best for each persona means analyzing their needs, perceptions and behaviors in detail.

Find out what topics interest them and develop content that educates, entertains and inspires.

  • Persona A who spends a significant amount of time on social media conducting product research might benefit from a an educational ebook or blog post addressing key questions they may be considering in this phase of the purchase journey.
  • Persona B, on the other hand, who spends a lot of time commuting and listening to music might benefit from an entertaining or inspiring ad that hinges on their interest in the outdoors, for example.

Optimizing your channel planning is all about delivering what your customers need, when they need it, and where – essential knowledge that’s driven by data.

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