Marketing Is More Than Coordinating Direct Mail, Email and Social

This is not just a problem with new channels. We have seen companies struggle with coordinating between established channels, like email and direct mail. I had a conversation recently with a VP of marketing whose company used sophisticated segmentation solely for targeting direct mail customers because of the expense involved, but proceeded to blast the same email to everyone on its list because email was “free.” The organization was very interested in further refining and optimizing its direct mail, because of the cost per piece, but was reluctant to consider even basic testing of different email treatments for different segments.

We see this phenomenon all too often. Senior executives will often talk a great game with regard to moving away from a “spray and pray” approach to marketing. Often, however, they fail to create and nurture an environment that is aligned around the customer. Why? Because they still focus, overwhelmingly, on maximizing revenue from each campaign, which means sending out more and more emails and offers, the domino effect of which results in over communication, message fatigue and both brand and margin erosion. This can be very counterproductive in terms of revenue and profitability. But the short-term pressures often overwhelm the long-term strategy.

So how do organizations become more customer-centric? Sure, data needs to be brought together in a single place. Even if the data volume and velocity of the data flow is high, today’s technologies can manage that. The data also has to be clean, which is increasingly doable, as well. The data must also be accessible and usable and recent advances in business intelligence and visualization tools have made this much easier. Finally, the data must be analyzed so the insights are useful and usable. But, perhaps most importantly, organizations must shift to embrace the customer at the center of their marketing and operations rather than try to change customer behavior to align to their structures.

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