Marketers: You Get What You Give
Email is by far the main way customers want to talk to brands, finds recent research. If marketers don’t know 86 percent of their customers prefer this channel — the figure from the survey, which may differ by company — then they need to take a closer look at what they’re giving their customers. That way, they’ll improve what they’re getting, according to CMO Council and Bazaarvoice research announced on Tuesday.
“Shopper Marketing: The New Rules of Engagement” includes survey results from consumers and marketers. Not surprisingly, consumers are in control of the shopping experience; but unexpectedly, many marketers who say they’re listening and providing value really aren’t, according to the research.
Marketers May Consider Data as Equaling Insight
Marketers may think they already have all of the information they need on their customers, but they may not.
“Customers have established a clear exchange rate for their customer data: value and relevance,” reads the research.
If brands aren’t providing value and relevance, they may not be getting the data they want.
In an email to Target Marketing on Tuesday announcing the survey findings, Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, illustrates this disconnect:
Only 34 percent of marketers believe consumers want to receive recommendations based on their past purchases or those of related peers, yet more than half of consumers say they have made purchases as a result of brand outreach.
Nearly half of consumers report that reviews, social media posts and past purchase behaviors are the best places to gain insights about them. [Author’s note: Collect more than just transactional data and meld it with reviews your customers are posting, because they are telling you exactly what they think.]
Marketers are questioning the accuracy of their customer data, with 83 percent of marketers reporting they are unable to obtain insights beyond their own brand properties. [Author’s note: This ties directly into “Get Over That Proprietary Secrecy.”]
Get Over That Proprietary Secrecy
It’s not helping brands, the report says.
If marketers haven’t even broken down internal barriers, chances are their organizations are in their own silos, too.
“To start,” reads the research, “brands should collect data from their retail partners and from similar or relevant purchases so they have a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of the consumer and their shopping behavior.”
Marketers Who Understand the Past Can Repeat It
Surveyed consumers said they absolutely would disclose information about their past purchases if it improved their shopping experiences.
“According to nearly half of consumers surveyed (47 percent), what they are really looking for from brands are offers that align with their personal buying and browsing behaviors — something marketers simply can’t deliver if they don’t have visibility across the customer’s entire journey, especially beyond their own properties.”
Marketers Who Want to Understand Conversions Can Just Ask
Marketers already know which channels convert — they track that. But why do customers prefer those channels over others and how can those experiences be better?
The research shows customers are eager to share why they convert where, so ask.
“From identifying channels and experiences that drive to purchase to highlighting those that just add to the noise,” reads the study, “customers aren’t just crafting their own journeys … they are sharing which delivered the biggest bang and why.”
The report says marketers say they’re listening to customers and collecting this information. But in reality, “marketers are struggling to connect data with action, still facing silos and disconnections that derail even the best intentions.”
Know Your Audience and Be Polite
Per this directive from research conclusion author Sara Spivey, CMO of Bazaarvoice, just because marketers have the information doesn’t mean they should use it. Or maybe they should think about how they can use it in a better manner than an automated response would dictate.
While marketers who’ve read thus far know to go beyond browsing history to pay attention to buying history and customer reviews, there’s more. Relevant content is subjective.
An automated response could miss something that could really hurt a brand’s reputation, for instance.
On NPR on Monday, a few examples came from author Tim Wu of Columbia Law School tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about Internet advertising that’s detailed in his book, “The Attention Merchants.”
Casinos marketing to consumers with gambling addictions. Healthcare marketers sending content to Google searchers just learning about their embarrassing diseases. A dying man getting targeted with ads from funeral homes.
“All that kind of stuff, it just gets into that zone of autonomy or privacy where you feel a sense of freedom to be who you want to be,” Wu says.
Spivey talks about a more nuanced problem.
“Know that disruption occurs on every channel,” she says. “So it’s all about your delivery and familiarity with your audience. Be conscious of when you reach out to your customers and the frequency. If disruption is bound to happen, then make sure that you vary the frequency of your communication by channel and that it’s interesting to your customers.
“Millennials may want to be part of a brand’s discussion or to interact with brand personalities on social channels,” Spivey continues, “but email is where conversions take place, so tailor your communications appropriately.”
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.