We're Closer to a One-to-One World
The industry has been talking about the coming of a one-to-one communications cycle for as long as I can remember. I'm pretty certain the first DMA Annual Conference I attended in Toronto in 1993 featured a keynote by consultants Martha Rogers and Don Peppers. On a bare stage with only microphones and a teleprompter, the duo did their best to convince attendees to stop conducting mass marketing via direct channels and open up to the realm of personalized direct mail and telemarketing. Imagine, they said, what kind of customer response and loyalty you could achieve if you collected customer preferences to, for example, tell a customer placing a phone order for tennis sneakers that the latest swimsuits arrived in the styles and colors she likes.
Not only is this kind of one-to-one marketing possible for more than just the biggest of the big direct marketers, but firms also are finding this personal communication can be achieved without segmenting to the individual level.
Take, for example, Sovereign Bank, whose integrated marketing efforts are profiled in this month's cover story. After extensive quantitative and qualitative data analysis, the financial services firm determined it had four main, homogenous customer segments for which personas could be developed. These personas—or specific user groups and the demographic, psychographic and behavioral traits that guide these groups' wants and decision-making—define the message points, copy tone, image selection, even the fonts used to present offers and information on Sovereign Bank's Web site. Customers who fit into one of these personas don't receive generic Web pages, but those that have been tailored to reflect their financial outlooks and lifestyle situations. Sovereign Bank's Marianne Doran-Collins, who heads up the firm's online team, reports that this extra customization is paying off in greater retention and product adoption. (For more, see "Channeling the Customer")