Reply-focussed communication

Good website communication hinges on the information flowing from the right initiation point.

Just set aside transaction communications – ‘Your sofa is now in stock’ – for a moment. Nearly all marketing and business messaging was, traditionally, company initiated. A new product launch or brochure, a seasonal sale, a press release or case study… An organisation has something to say and sends out its message. This is the traditional initiation point for brand communication. It also assumed that the recipient wanted to receive the communication in question.

But website communication turns this on its head. It is customer initiated. People (punters, customers, web users) set out online ‘to do’ something – book a holiday, buy a book, donate to charity, acquire knowledge. We mention the latter 2 as the term customer initiated communication applies just as much to those not looking to buy something.

By its very nature, this type of communication requires a different treatment. It must be reply-focussed. Imagine sitting down to eat with a group of people and asking the person on your left to ‘pass the salt’. You expect them to reply, even if the reply is less than helpful: ‘Sorry, I have short arms and can’t reach it.’ You don’t expect them to say: ‘I have a labrador called Bert’ or ‘My girlfriend is in Dubai’. Communication is only satisfactory when it follows a logical sequence. (Rap lyrics not withstanding.)

‘Aah’, I hear you say, ‘how do I know what the customer has said, so we can make the right reply?’

Well, just by asking that question you’ve passed Reply-focussed communication Elementary grade 1. Simply asking it enables you to view what you’re saying online – and how you say it – from a more helpful perspective. Add to that what you know about your customers through data and journey tracking, and your on your way.

Email can be company initiated, but even with email you can’t just use a traditional offline approach. But that’s another post.