Marketers across the globe have been suffering from a kind of feverish desire, second in intensity only to the Gold Rush of 1949, to pursue the treasure within online marketing. The reasoning, it would seem, was that once they were successful in capturing the much coveted online customer, marketers could then proceed to annoy and frustrate them with countless pieces of inexpensive e-mail on a ny subject of their choosing.
As is often the case, the marketing industry became focused on the vehicle as savior, at the expense of what counts the most, the message.
While the alluring world of Internet communication certainly has provided a means for more immediate and efficient conversation with customers, it sadly has been unable to correct an enduring failure in many corporate marketing programs—that is, the failure of relevance. By relevance, I mean an appeal to an individual’s needs and preferences at the precise time she desires it most. In this sense, the vehicle—whether it’s e-mail, direct mail, telemarketing, webcasting or RSS feed—serves as the means to reaching one very specific end: increased relevancy.
When we achieve relevance, we don’t just bring customers online, we bring them onboard for the long-run, and that’s the goal.
Research from a variety of sources has confirmed what many marketers in the retail banking industry have known for many years. If a company fails to successfully bring a customer onboard through product cross-selling within the first 180 days, it’s far more likely that it will lose him. In the time it takes to type the word “unsubscribe,” the next passing competitor has lured the customer away, simply because he was given no compelling reason to stay. The communication or offers he was receiving simply held too little or no relevance to him.
As a result, many retail banks have dedicated whole programs to the concept of “onboarding,” experimenting with different ways to bring new customers more fully into the fold. Now, other industries such as telecom, travel and hospitality, and online retailers are following suit. Tired of spending twice as many marketing dollars on new customer acquisition than on what it takes to keep the customers they have, companies across industries are looking at successful onboarding practices to help improve their early cross-sell capabilities and long-term customer retention rates.