Finding Your customers channel (image by Vocab)

It’s time to break out the candles, dim the lights and start chanting… then in an ominous voice ask how well do you know your customer or prospect? When the room starts to shake–the candles flicker then continue and ask the questions that’s going to spin your head completely around… what is the most effective channel to reaching your customer or prospect?

Most likely your choices are vast and deep from search based ads, content networks, email, direct mail, mobile, and social just to name a few. You might be using all but are you using all to reach all your market or are you segmenting out your channels for greater effectiveness?

Hope for Haiti and Mobile

Do you remember the Hope for Haiti campaign? To donate $10 you would text to the organization and they would place a charge on your phone bill. A Pew study found that 14% of donations totaling $30 million where made by Americans using their cell phones. This compared to 12 percent by telephone. Nearly 23 percent said they donated via the Web, and 5 percent did so by e-mail.

This campaign was vastly successful across multiple channels but I want to highlight the mobile channel. The mobile outreach was successful because the people behind Hope for Haiti understood that these consumers wouldn’t donate $10 by sending a check, on the web or over the phone but would donate given the channel that they understood. They made it easy and perfect for this American Idol generation.

Twitter Moms and Your Channels

Are you making it easy for your customers to do business with you in a channel they prefer?

Next is a study from that gave a little more insight into Twitter moms. Noting that several studies from MarketingSherpa and Razorfish have found consumers follow brands for deals and special offers– found there is more to this channel for this vertical market. The “Twitter Mom’s” top reason for following businesses on Twitter was because they provide useful content. While about two-thirds said they liked to see businesses tweeting links to sales, moms most wanted companies to share links to interesting articles or news.

Even more can be gleamed from this study. For this channel (Twitter) if your market is a mom then you should be interesting to them, have personality, and not post to frequently. While great advice in general it wasn’t what the general thought was surrounding this group.

How to Figure Out Your Channels

Ask. Ask your best customers. Where do they spend time. What technology do they use and why? Go deeper, not so much as what they tell you but what do they show you.

Market Research. Today as a business owner or marketer your opportunity to find information and demographic data is more available than ever. The key with market research in today’s world is understanding that one source never tells the whole story. The study from above exposed that a core what was a common reason why a consumer followed a brand or company–instead it showed that you can make a case and strategy for driving awareness and word of mouth marketing. I would suggest that you schedule time in your calendar to do market research.

Test and Verify. Every time I think I know a consumer or a target market I’ve been surprised. Without real data and real interactions you have just a guess and assumptions. Create a strategy that enables you or your company to test new channels. You might not think that you customers would respond to a mobile coupon–this is the main reason why you should try and test it out.

In Conclusion

Going forward think about your channels and segmenting out your audience. I’d go further with some channels as well. With social you have Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and much more. Search you have Google, Bing/Yahoo (as the merging happens here over the next few months). Mobile you have direct, text, and the ad networks like Admob. My main aim of this post is to hopefully help you get focused on thinking about segmenting your market and testing different channels of approach to reach them.