Choose Your Own Adventure: A Digital Strategist’s Guide

As digital strategists, we are often creating our own versions of Choose Your Own Adventure novels for clients. We look at the whole picture, know the goal destination, and then pick the different paths for customers to follow, optimizing their stories along the way. In the end, the right tactics lead to the conversion that marketers are anticipating from the beginning. Would you like to think of yourself as an author of your company’s Choose Your Own Adventure series? Read on!

Knowing the Final Destination
A book can seem daunting, just like a multichannel campaign or major marketing automation. The trick about writing a book is that it’s easier if you can visualize the destination, major plot twists, and key stops along the way before you start writing. As marketers, we know the end of our story as well – conversion. Conversion is not always a sale. Sometimes conversion is a site visit, and sometimes conversion is an RSVP to an event. So, as long as the goal is clear, the paths can be created.

Knowing the Characters
Just like characters in a book, the customers in your database all have their own backgrounds, motivations, and tendencies. As a digital marketer, it is important to understand how to create options for your characters and digital tactics. Knowing your characters will provide insight on best timing to introduce new messages and marketing touches that produce the highest conversions. Partner with your analytics team to help define segments, as well as trends within these segments.

Understanding the difference between a customer who opts-in from a paid media campaign and a customer who opts-in organically through a website page will help you position the messages and tactics accordingly to lead to a conversion. The paid-media opt-in may need more brand messaging and engagement tactics to learn more about what interests them, whereas the web history of the organically obtained opt-in can provide a more personalized context for their messages right away.

Defining the Paths
Now that you know your character, it’s time to think about their story. Think to yourself, “If I was this person, what would I want next?” If the answer isn’t clear, go through some decision tree methods for yourself. Do you want more information? Do you want an easy way to book or buy? Writing answers for each of these possibilities is the start of your “novel.” The channel is also important. The “where” of the next message is almost as important as the “what.” While email is a channel where customers can opt-in, many others may also have your company’s app at their disposal, or the opportunity for real-time communication with customers such as social media networks.

For example, a new product launches that can be ordered through the app. It is more likely to get a quick conversion if a message is sent through the app rather than sending in an email. However, customers who are not users of the app will miss the message if it’s only announced in that one channel. Then again, not all customers need to know the message on both channels.

A smart “Choose Your Own Adventure” writer will think about the cadence of the message and make considerations for:

  1. Those who don’t have the app
  2. Those who have the app but don’t have messages enabled
  3. Those who have the app but don’t see the messages
  4. Those who see the message on the app but don’t convert

By knowing your goal (in this case, announcing a new product), and identifying your characters (the different audiences within your app and email database), the tactics themselves almost fall into place. Next, it’s time to write the story.

Writing the Stories
Be sure to clearly outline the different touches customers can, or will, receive from the beginning. It’s easier to budget for time and effort if you can lay everything out first. Also, by thinking through everything from the start, you will probably find more holes to plug and different messages that could be combined within tactics.

Partner with a developer or platform engineer to take advantage of the tools your ESP has to offer. If you have a tool that allows you to connect if-then statements together, building the logic will be easier. If you don’t, it’s not impossible, but it will be more manual. One big piece to consider with manual deployments is suppression. Automated campaigns can let you write rules for taking the audience down by each touch, whereas with the manual versions, you will need to refresh the audiences after each touch to avoid over-messaging.

And that’s it! You’re only five steps away from visualizing, identifying, and planning your Choose Your Own Adventure novel – I mean, multichannel or multi-touch marketing campaigns.

5 Takeaways and Steps:

  1. Know your destination: Without knowing your goal, it will be harder to create the book because you’ll become diverged as you plan
  2. Know your characters: Identify your different audiences and what they need
  3. Define the paths: Identify the channels that will be utilized within the campaign and how customers can go in and out of them during the campaign
  4. Write the Stories: Execute the tactics
  5. Analyze and optimize

By Jess Ginburg

Jess delivers keen insights and strategies for clients in the QSR, Financial, Insurance and eCommerce industries.