Omniplatform and Journey Planning
This month on the Pickle Jar blog we’ll be looking at the idea of an omniplatform approach to content creation – making sure that you use all the channels you have in an integrated way to create more holistic, user-friendly communications.
In January we looked at audience research and how important it is to understand what your audience needs from you – which might be different to what you think they need. If you know what they want and what drives them to act, then it’ll be so much easier to engage with them.
Ellie has written in the past about creating personas to simulate your audience and their behaviour. The next step in using your audience research and the personas you’ve developed is to figure out the journey your audience takes, and where you can intervene to help them.
You might be familiar with the concept of journey planning – working out the different steps that a prospective customer takes before making a decision about a purchase. In this case we’re talking about students applying to a university or college, but the process is just as relevant to customers of any other kind. We believe that there are eight stages in this journey:
Your audience research will help you to work out the stages in the journey that you need to be making the most effort to reach students. For example, you might be capturing their attention in the early Awareness stage with targeted advertising, but failing to feed their curiosity with suitable information at the Credibility stage.
And that’s where an omniplatform approach will be your friend.
Put the audience first
The ubiquitous nature of mobile phones, tablets, and other devices means that the lines between channels start to blur. Your audience will expect to be able to communicate with you wherever they are, and in whatever way they want to – and they’ll expect the same level of service whatever they do.
Students don’t really think in terms of channels or platforms – they want to find a solution to their problem. They may try to reach you through Twitter, Facebook, an email, or even in person. Sometimes they might not even tell you they have a problem, but they’ll be talking about it somewhere you can see.
You will already be using a multiplatform approach (as soon as you’ve got more than one platform, that’s multiplatform), but omniplatform means taking this a few steps further.
All too often, the many platforms we use exist in silos. This might make sense from an internal point of view, but the student doesn’t see this. Your students don’t really care which department or office controls a particular Twitter account, or runs a particular section of the website – they just need a consistent experience with their university. This is why it’s important to examine the audience journey from the student’s perspective, so you can provide them with the right information at the right time – in a consistent manner.
This applies to the way your content is presented, too. You might have a website that looks wonderful on a desktop computer, but what happens if a student wants to access course information on their mobile? You might want to think about a system that allows users to bookmark useful information and access it across multiple devices.
I’m not saying you need to be present on every platform available – far from it. You might only have a handful of channels, or you might have hundreds. The key thing is to ensure that you communicate in an integrated fashion across all the platforms you choose to use.
The final stage…
The advantages of communicating effectively with your students at every stage of their journey with you are huge. By the end of their time with you, they should progress through all the stages to reach the final, ideal, position: Advocacy. You know you’ve given them a good experience when they become brand ambassadors and start doing your job for you…
We’re going to look at journey planning in more detail later in the year, but if you want more information before then, please get in touch.