Communication is an essential tool for companies and brands. Making yourself known to your target audience, recruiting new leads, launching a product, developing your brand image: the stakes are high. A company that communicates little or badly has very little chance of success. It is therefore a matter of getting the right message across, at the right time, to the right target by using the right communication channels. In this article, we come back to the notion of "communication channel" and the importance of adapting it according to one's projects in order to achieve one's objectives.
Communication is an essential tool for companies and brands. Making yourself known to your target audience, recruiting new leads, launching a product, developing your brand image: the stakes are high.
A company that communicates poorly or not at all has a very low chance of success. It is therefore a matter of getting the right message, at the right time, to the right target using the right communication channels.
In this article, we return to the notion of the "communication channel" and the importance of adapting it according to one's projects in order to achieve one's objectives.
1. Communication channel: definition
The notion of "channel of communication" was proposed by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver in 1948 in A mathematical theory of communication. They developed information theory by emphasizing the notions of transmitter and receiver and indicated that the information was measurable and the coding of the information had to adapt to the channel capacity. In other words, the communication channel refers to a channel through which the messages to be conveyed are transmitted.
Today, companies use communication channels to disseminate their messages to their targets. The media used make it possible to promote a product or service to a defined audience.
There are two broad categories of communication channels: media and non-media channels, which are discussed in more detail below. Within the media and non-media channels, there are sub-categories: online and offline.
a. The media
This type of communication encompasses all communication actions carried out through traditional offline media such as: print media, radio, television, cinema and posters and online such as online press, online advertising and social networks.
b. The non-media
These are channels that use direct (offline) contact: such as telephone, mail or communication events. Online are websites, mobile applications, chats, newsletters, e-mailing campaigns.
c. Multichannel and Cross-Channel Strategies
Companies generally use multiple channels to communicate. When a company uses one channel independently of the others, without linking the brand's channels together, it is called a multi-channel strategy.
When a company focuses on making the user journey from one channel to the other more fluid, it is a Cross Channel strategy. This is the case, for example, when a targued prospect sees an advertisement on Instagram inviting him to go to the brand's website to choose his product/service, then is redirected to the store to test the product.
In the case of these two strategies, it is considered that customers and prospects use different channels to make their purchases.
2. Which communication channels to use according to its strategy?
A successful communication strategy is based on a good knowledge of the communication tools that will help build customer loyalty.
a. Traditional communication channels: to be chosen according to your budget
These are the traditional media: billboards, print, television and radio. The costs associated with these channels vary enormously: public out-of-home, or TV and radio campaigns are very expensive: small brands often do not have a budget to allocate.
These are therefore three channels to be favoured if you have the budget, because the visibility of your offer/product will be tenfold compared to your usual audience.
Print media and press relations will be more accessible and very effective in raising brand awareness. In this case, take care of your press release so that the journalist spreads a clear message about your product/offer. If you can, add samples to make it easier to test the product.
b. Digital (online) communication channels: limited cost and a large audience
Digital allows companies to gain visibility at a lower cost. A well executed digital strategy allows to broadcast the right messages in real time and to react quickly in case of crisis.
- the brand's website
- social networks
- influence marketing (blogs, influencers)
- SEA (Search Engine Advertisement): paid referencing Google Ads, Facebook Ads etc.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) natural referencing
Digital channels allow consumers to view product information in one click, to immerse themselves in the brand universe or to compare products online. This is an opportunity for the company to offer an online showcase, to communicate on its brand image and to create a real community of brand "fans".
c. Direct marketing: a tool to reinforce traditional channels
This communication strategy is established on the basis of contacts gathered by the brand and establishes a privileged contact with the client or prospect. Indeed, once the customer or prospect has filled in his or her contact details on the brand's website, he or she can be contacted again to keep him or her informed of product launches or for communication around a brand event, for example.
The channels used broadcast a personalized message to the target through the :
- telephone (phoning campaigns)
- mailings (advertisements, invitations, discount code)
- mobile marketing (sms, push strategies)
d. Communication events (offline): loyalty and recruitment
There are two types of events with very specific objectives: loyalty and recruitment.
At loyalty events, the target is already acquired as a customer of the brand. It will therefore be a question of organising events to spread an exclusive message (the customer must feel that he is participating in some way in the brand adventure) with the aim of recommending the products or offers around him.
During lead generation events, most often free of charge, the objective is to test the products to discover new launches or new functionalities of a service for example. The prospect can leave with samples or branded goodies and be invited to continue the experience at home, on the brand's website or on social networks.
3. How to choose your communication channels?
In order to choose the right channels for its communication strategy, several key criteria must be taken into account.
a. What are your communication objectives?
As a first step, start by defining the objectives you want to achieve with your brand messages. Brand objectives can be, for example
- generate leads
- gain renown
- increase turnover
- brand awareness
- create a community of fans.
If your goal is to recruit new customers, without having a communication budget adapted to traditional media, favour a digital strategy. To do this, develop an original communication on your social networks, work on the natural referencing of your website and collaborate with recognized influencers in your field of activity to improve the e-reputation of your brand.
For example, if your goal is to evolve your brand image and your company is already well established, opt for a multi-channel strategy to get your message out to a wider audience. To do this, create TV and radio spots, work on your press relations and organize original in-store events to build loyalty with your existing customers.
b. Determine your target
Choose your communication channels according to your target. To determine your target precisely, ask yourself the following questions:
- who's your ideal customer?
- have you defined a persona ?
- who should type your message?
- how old is your audience?
- what's his sex?
- where does he/she live?
- what is its geographical location?
- what is his socio-professional status?
- what does he/she do for entertainment?
- what's his income?
The age group and generation are particularly decisive in the choice of communication channel:
- Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964): are spending more and more time reading online content and are interested in world news. They prefer desktop computers to tablets and mobiles.
- Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980): 80 % of this generation have a Facebook and Twitter account and use both fixed and mobile computers.
- Generation Y/Millennials (born between 1981 and 1999): are comfortable with social networks and shopping online, they consult online comments and opinions on products/services.
- Generation Z (born from 2001 onwards): they influence parents' purchasing decisions. The communication strategy should focus on mobile devices and the communication channels used are social networks with TikTok and YouTube in the lead.
For more details on this study, click here.
c. Adapt the message to be communicated
A successful communication strategy is based on a clear message adapted to the target and the communication medium. The message delivered must indeed be coherent according to the communication channel. Above all, it is a question of coordinating the message across the different communication channels. Each channel has its own specificities to which the message must be adapted. A radio commercial implies a clear oral message, whereas a successful social media strategy relies on powerful visual messages.
In order to communicate effectively with consumers, companies need a coherent communication strategy across different channels. The message must be clear and adapted to the target in order to trigger the act of purchase, to win the audience's support or to make the brand loved, all will depend on the communication objectives defined upstream by the company.