Technology has yielded many advances in the way marketers plan and implement their strategies, but technology has also changed the way consumers view marketing and advertising. It’s not enough to simply target or retarget your audience with insipid bulk messaging. Instead, targeting must be done in a way that meets the needs of each individual customer, whether through digital marketing or direct mail — or some combination of the two.
Marketers today have the ability to reach across channels and provide their audience with the most effective marketing piece for that stage of the buyer’s journey. In other words, marketers shouldn’t stay in their own swim lane of digital or print because data-driven marketing has knocked down the barriers between the two. Reaching your audience with effective marketing means understanding how the audience connects with your brand at every touchpoint, and what they want or need from your business.
Disrupting the Status Quo
We all know that data is a very valuable asset in marketing. The more you know about your audience, the easier it is to speak the language of the customer. The revolution of data-driven marketing is clearly a boon for any company that wants to be able to reach its target market, and it’s helped many companies achieve a new level of marketing success.
However, it’s easy to forget that data isn’t a one-way street. After all, data has to come from somewhere, and all marketers must remember the customer is just as much a part of the data revolution as the marketers who use this information. And since companies everywhere are seeing an increased return on their marketing expenditures due to their possession of customer data, don’t those companies have an obligation to provide something of value in exchange for their tracking methods?
For most customers, it’s an easy solution. While nobody’s thrilled with the idea of being tracked from website to website — ask anyone who’s had a gift idea spoiled after banner ads from a visited site show up everywhere else on the Web — modern customers are increasingly willing to play along if they can get a better experience out of the deal. A 2015 study shows that three out of every five customers are comfortable with the tracking of their shopping habits as long as they can have a quicker shopping experience and receive personalized offers sent directly to them through email or direct mail.
Despite the fact that consumers ask for very little — they simply want value from businesses as a condition of their data collection, many companies struggle to personalize value propositions for their customers and prospects. Consumers are tired of generic marketing ideas that don’t speak to them individually. People will switch to a business that meets these individual needs through a seamless customer experience, without a second thought.
Bridging the Online-Offline Marketing Gap
When consumers engage with a brand — whether on a mobile site, in store, through a postcard or email — they don’t view these interactions as coming from separate divisions inside a business. Each interaction builds the story of your brand and the customer experience. That’s why marketers must stop thinking of online and offline marketing as two separate silos — modern versus old, efficient versus expensive. Today’s marketer knows that it’s not about one method being better than the other. It’s about finding the right mix of online and offline marketing that translates into a stellar experience for the customer. Striking that chord is the ultimate weapon in creating a long-term customer.
For instance, look at direct marketing. In some corners of the marketing world, direct marketing — which many people assume consists mainly of direct mail — is viewed as a relic from the past, an old-school tactic that was left in the dustbin when the Internet came into play. However, this viewpoint ignores the fact that the response rate for direct mail is 37 times higher than that of email, as well as the fact that the return on investment for a direct mail campaign is roughly identical to that of social media marketing, yet direct mail yields a much higher response. But direct mail isn’t always the best option for reaching prospects and customers. Knowing where your customers are on their path to purchase, through the use of intent data, will provide you with the insights you need to know when to use digital display, paid social or retarget with a postcard.
Anyone who has ever shopped on Amazon, who has cornered the market in delivering a valuable customer experience, is familiar with the company’s automated follow-up emails that remind people to come back and purchase an item they looked at a few days ago. It’s an email that’s occasionally helpful, but it’s also one that can be easily ignored.
But with advances in technology as well as marketing strategy, any marketing you might send in an email, you can now send in a postcard. Using a programmatic postcard is a more powerful and persuasive reminder, and based on the response rate, postcards are much more likely to result in a sale than an email. Programmatic postcards and print are just one example of how marketers can bridge the online-offline gap, as well as provide value to their customers, the people who have made our data revolution possible.
The exact formula for providing value and maximizing the customer experience vary among regions, industries and companies. There is no perfect solution that fits every brand’s marketing needs. Marketers must be agile and analytical. You must be able to look at data from multiple sources to gain insights into what your customers find of value, and then come up with a strategy to deliver. What works today may not work six months or a year from now. Your audience and consumers’ needs and wants will change and your marketing strategy must keep up with them; and the only way to do this is to understand the actionable insights you receive from your consumer data.
The Value Provided by Marketers
Today’s world of data-driven marketing is both a blessing and a curse. While data provides companies with incredible insights into the lives of their customers, it also can send marketers deep into the weeds with marketing tactics. Businesses that see data as an opportunity to provide greater value to their customers will see tremendous growth as a result of their data utilization. Incorporating their insights into mediums like direct marketing will allow these companies to separate from the pack, but more importantly, it will enable these businesses to create the kind of customer experience that yields lifelong loyalty.