Monday, 20 December 2010

Is Multi-Channel Communication the key to engagement?

services-multichannelBusiness advisory organisation Deloitte,  has just published details of their research into consumer spending. The study found that multi-channel shoppers spend a massive 82% more per transaction than those who use a store alone. "Multi-channel" means that the consumer uses more than one of a company's platforms, such as their shops, websites or catalogues.

It's a huge difference and has implications beyond the realms of retail. In this blog, we've regularly suggested that the Public Sector, and especially the NHS, should look to business to inform their Social Marketing and efforts to improve Public Health. The knowledge and expertise that business has in understanding and influencing the needs of the Public is a long established industry in itself, with years of well financed research into markets and the development of techniques to influence those markets. Examining research such as this and looking to how it can translate to their communications challenges, the NHS can save time and money doing it themselves.

In this instance, Deloitte's research shows the difference that connecting with people across multiple platforms increases their likelihood to buy a product. It's not too great a leap to presume the same would apply when selling an idea, such as those the NHS may be looking to promote in a Social Marketing campaign.

Ian Geddes, UK Head of Retail at Deloitte, said: “The multi-channel consumer is particularly well informed about the products they buy and this greater confidence is resulting in a higher value and a higher volume of purchases."

Expanding on this, multiple channels give a feel of more power to the consumer. Rather than receive a company led, singular sales message, the multi-channel consumer creates their own, choosing what and from where they take their information. They feel more in control, rather than being manipulated.

The same idea would apply to Public Health messages. Rather than a singular message from, say a television campaign telling people not to smoke, a coordinated range of channels is available, from which the Public can choose their own path to suit their needs. They then feel that they're in control of what they receive, rather than being lectured. If they then decide to make the "purchase", by stopping smoking, they feel it's their own well informed choice.

The NHS equivalent of the retail store may be a GP Surgery or Drop-In Centre, but NHS Hull went one further with the opening of Health Central earlier this year. The project is a unique and original concept in bringing health services to the Public, with a retail-style outlet situated in a busy shopping centre. Supported by various other channels, such as facebook pages and paper media, the facility has been a great success.

As we were heavily involved in the project, we shared NHS Hull's delight, when after six months it reached 10,000 people through the door. In effect, this is 10,000 "purchases", made possible by offering this new channel to the Public.

Innovative approaches such as this, broadening the range of channels available to the NHS, maximises their ability to engage with the Public. As the Deloitte report shows, multi-channel communications brings such significant benefits, that those running any campaign should always consider how they can take advantage of that potential.

No comments:

Post a Comment