For your business to be successful, you need to be able to get your company’s message out there for current and potential customers to see. What does your company do? How can your company make customers’ lives easier? This is where having a strategic communications plan comes into play.
Surprisingly, many companies either don’t use a communications plan or don’t really know what goes into making one. In fact, corporate communication stats point out that 21% of internal communicators globally and 31% in North America admitted they do not use any type of formal planning. This means that more and more often companies are being reactive instead of proactive.
A proactive approach to communication will lead to much more success for your company. Let’s take a look at what makes up a strategic communications plan and how customer communications management (CCM) can help the process.
What Is a Strategic
Every organization needs a roadmap to guide them toward their goals, and a Strategic Communications Plan is the roadmap of a company’s communications efforts. It is the foundation of a company’s communication and marketing activities and clearly defines what information an organization shares, who it shares it with, and what channels are used to share it.
What is the purpose of a
strategic communications plan?
The “why” behind creating a Strategic Communications Plan is that it prioritizes the company’s goals, as well as identifying their audiences. More than that, your plan outlines the communications you will implement to reach your audiences, both internally and externally, and thus guiding you toward meeting the top priority goals.
What is the importance of a strategic communications plan?
Building a strategic communications plan is important for your business because it relays how your departments can work together to build solid communications with your customers. Your plan provides structure by detailing the roles and responsibilities of each department, and also paints the bigger picture of a unified strategy involving everyone’s efforts, what they are meant to accomplish, and the timeline of expected results.
Creating a Strategic Communications Plan
There are many resources out there offering help to create your strategic communications plan. Some are lengthy, while some are direct and to the point. There are even templates you can use to create your communications plan.
The problem is no two companies are the same. While each of these sites will give you a general approach to creating a communications plan, they will not address your specific needs. To create a communication plan that benefits your company, you will need to figure out certain elements that are unique to your organization and then determine which tools can help you execute your plan
What is your message?
To be successful, you need a clearly defined brand message from the very start. Your brand message is the essence of your company and what it has to offer to its customers. Defining that message clearly must be a priority, and then your strategic communications plan works to relay your brand message to your current and potential customers. Using customer communications management (CCM) software helps to relay your message by providing current customers with targeted information using an omnichannel approach.
Who is your audience?
After defining your message, you must identify the intended recipients – current customers and potential customers. Before sending out your message, perform a detailed analysis of your customer base. With current customers, CCM software will not only allow you to send targeted, personalized messaging, you can also provide dynamic documents and the ability to plot the customer journey.
What do you hope to accomplish?
You need to know going in what the overall goal of your communications campaign will be. Is it something you send out just as a branding exercise, or are you hoping to bring in leads? If it involves additional services for your current customers, what is the rate of success with which you will be comfortable? Correspondence management is vital in your approach.
How long will this last?
Obviously, the campaign you run is not going to be a one-and-done thing. Your message will be sent out in different ways over the course of a week or a month, maybe longer. Emails need to be written, as do blog posts and any other piece of collateral (eBook, whitepaper, etc.) that you feel is necessary. Most of your communications will probably come in the form of emails.
While the vast majority of communicators use email as a feedback channel, only a few of them use email analytics as a measure of their effectiveness. Since it’s such a vital part of your campaign, you need to monitor the open rates and click-through rates of emails you send. If the rates are lower than your goals, adjustments will need to be made.
CCM provides your company with detailed analytics and monitoring for all forms of communications. It enables you to identify problem points in the customer journey and resolve them to improve the efficiency of your communications.
Once you have everything in place, and everything has been approved, it is time to develop your strategic communications plan and implement it. Your company should make sure to follow a calendar for messaging, and the email analytics should be monitored as well.
How CCM Streamlines Your Strategic Communications Plan
By now you understand what goes into creating a strategic communications plan. It requires a lot of work, but, when done correctly, your company will reap the rewards. Using customer communications management software can increase those rewards exponentially, especially when it comes to delivering a good communications plan.
A CCM solution gives you the flexibility to deliver a full range of automated and personal correspondence, and it also allows you to send personalized and relevant documents throughout the customer journey. And using omnichannel engagement, you can deliver documents optimized for whatever device your customers are using at any moment.
Reduce Customer Communications Complexity with CCM
A strategic communications plan that relies on staff that cooperates effectively, and on CCM software that streamlines each task, results in omnichannel communications delivered optimally for your brand. Whether it’s one document or a whole collection of them, they have the opportunity to shine when the work behind them is easy and efficient.
And with a CCM system in place, your marketing or branding team can specify a style sheet to be used across all documents and outputs, unifying your look and feel regardless of which team originates the document. Customer communications involve a number of moving parts. Developers, content writers, marketers, managers, and customer-facing employees are all stakeholders taking on specific tasks in this collective, large-scale effort.
But with such a wide range of talents to coordinate, each person using software from twenty different places, building strategic communications plans becomes a very intricate task.
Blending the efforts of several departments to meet communication goals should be the essence of your strategic plan, but establishing connections between the different types of software each department uses requires a roadmap of its very own.
Without CCM software, you could easily be wasting valuable energy, time, and money on something as fundamental as developing and deploying customer messaging. A plan involving many types of software used in different departments could not only compromise the quality of company communications but also take a toll on your staff.
CCM software makes document production less complicated and brings together all the departments involved onto the same platform, thus eliminating the complicated software roadmap that would otherwise go into your strategic communications plan. CCM helps companies reduce procedure complexity and enables them to produce high-quality communications.
One Unified Platform to Consolidate Your Strategic Plan
Many companies still house a combination of solutions from different outside developers, along with tools developed internally, to create unique systems that fit custom needs but are hard to update and scale. Integrating all of them in a strategic communications plan is a complex task, but unfortunately, one that may not last and will need to be updated regularly.
It could be that one of the solutions providers went out of business or no longer offers support for a legacy system, or it could be that one of the tools has become obsolete. The solution, in this case, is replacing individual solutions or ad-hoc–developing internal ones.
The tragedy is that the further systems get updated in this manner, the more costly (in both time and revenue) it becomes if/when they crash. And as an added disadvantage, any solution change requires rethinking and updating the entire strategic communications plan.
Moreover, these changes appear with little or no notice at all. Making updates to your communications plan might cause confusion among employees, which makes them prone to mistakes. Each change comes with an adjustment period, which you may or may not be able to afford if you want to meet your goals.
Another major aspect to consider is data security. Customer communications might seem straightforward to some, but they are directly linked to customer data, which must be kept safe at all times. Keeping customer data scattered across several systems makes your company more liable to cybersecurity breaches.
So instead of bolting on solution after solution onto your strategic communications plan, using a single solution that contains all the features you need in the same platform brings a cascade of benefits: data security, ease of communication between departments, and the ability to back a strategic plan that can remain in place for a long time.
Consolidate Company Efforts with CCM
Instead of throwing together various disjointed materials, your team can use a single unified platform hosting the tools they need. The end customer receives a complete, engaging package at every touchpoint. Single documents will deliver a personal experience, and a batch of documents will reach every destination with pinpoint accuracy, all because processes were simplified from the back-end to the front office.
The strategic communications plan focuses on individual customer touchpoints, each of which is a make or break moment in the customer journey. With CCM software, all of these points can be optimized with journey mapping and automation, ultimately strengthening the communications plan and enabling companies to reach their goals.
Build Your Strategic Communications Plan with Ecrion
As you can see, CCM software helps companies streamline operations and bring together departments to build strong strategic communications plans that stand the test of time.
Find out for yourself just how much easier it is to create and follow a strategic communications plan using Ecrion’s CCM software. Contact us today and talk to our experts about what Ecrion can do for you. Request a demo and try out our solution today! We look forward to helping you on the path to better communications.
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