Recalibrating Your Digital Messaging Infrastructure, Part 1
Successful message deployment is the bread and butter of any marketing program. Unfortunately, legacy systems and processes prevent many email marketers from keeping pace with the ever-changing digital messaging landscape.
Many email deployment systems that offered decent performance at a reasonable price a few years ago simply aren’t powerful or flexible enough to respond to the demands placed on them today. They can’t compare to the top commercial messaging platforms based on next generation technologies.
Furthermore, the slow throughput, poor deliverability and high maintenance costs associated with such systems add to the return on investment woes of email marketers. They can degrade your results and reputation, ultimately stalling a program’s growth, draining budgets and fomenting customer churn. More problematic still is that aging infrastructures prevent marketers from competing in a communications environment that’s increasingly fractured across multiple channels.
Multiple channels, multiple choices
Today’s consumers have multiple choices through which to receive communications, including email, SMS text, instant messaging and social media. This proliferation of choices is boosting their desire to access and read messages right now. Instant gratification in real time.
As the velocity of messages and variety of choices increase, customers’ attention spans shrink — as does their patience to view and digest marketing messages. This translates into an ever-narrowing window of opportunity for marketers and a need for marketing messages to be spot-on in terms of reaching the right customer with the right message at the right time and place.
The question for email marketers relying on antiquated email infrastructures is twofold. First, how do you address the acute cost ailments associated with outdated systems and, second, how do you position yourself to compete and win in a communications environment that’s growing more fragmented by the day? The answer to both questions is to recalibrate your digital messaging infrastructure needs.
Quantify your hard and soft costs to justify the investment in a messaging solution that will enable you to maximize returns for your email marketing program. Purchase wisely and that same solution will enable you to reach consumers with relevant messages through whichever channel they prefer.
Escape from the silo
If you’re in charge of email marketing for a major consumer brand, the thought of subscribers on your list interacting with your brand through other message channels (e.g., SMS, Facebook or Twitter) can be alarming. This is especially true if your operations and infrastructure are siloed as a distinct business unit. Would you even be aware if your colleagues across the office in the social media marketing department were conducting a campaign?
The problem is that consumers don’t distinguish between business units or message channels in their interactions with companies. A 15 percent-off coupon means the same thing to them, regardless of whether it’s delivered to their email inbox or sent via SMS. Now that multiple message channels exist to reach consumers, the challenge comes in ensuring that interactions with them are relevant, coordinated and aligned with their preferences.
Broadcasting special offers to consumers through multiple channels — e.g., SMS text to their mobile device, posting to your Twitter account and sending a message to their email address — is likely to be perceived as spam. But deliver the same message in the right context and they're likely to value the interaction.
A better example might be an airline sending out an SMS notice of a flight delay to a customer’s mobile device. The customer might have booked their flight online and worked through the original transaction via email, yet the most relevant channel on the day of departure is an SMS text sent to the mobile device they’re carrying.
Companies that can interact with customers across messaging channels in this way — i.e., changing to suit preferences and circumstances — will be well-positioned to keep customer satisfaction high and increase lifetime value. Marketers siloed in an email-only organization with an email-only infrastructure are at a big disadvantage as their customers continue to embrace messaging across channels. The challenge is putting in place an organizational and infrastructure solution that facilitates holistic messaging so you can reach out to your customers through whichever channel they prefer.
In part two of this series, which will appear in the Nov. 4 issue of eM+C Weekly, I'll discuss what to look for in a holistic messaging infrastructure solution, including things that should be on your shopping list, why they’re important and ways to test them.
Related story: New Metrics to Track Your Email Program’s Performance