I remember my very first email marketing push. ‘Wow! Revolutionary’ I thought. ‘Don’t all ring at once,’ I said. ‘You’ll all get served in good time,’ I announced…
But, while it yielded moderate success, doors remained on their hinges, and the telephone exchange remained pretty much intact.
The problem was, it seems, I was doing it wrong. But ever since I’ve been getting slightly better and now, I think I’m doing it right.
If you want to stay relevant and obtain measurable ROI from your marketing investment, you need to change the way you communicate. You need to market to today’s buyer, and that means understanding exactly what your customer journey and sales cycle look like.
So how do we do this without losing the creativity that brings a brand to life? While at the same time using automation that can deliver and interact in a far more targeted way than the human brain can manage?
This ain’t no technological breakdown, oh no, this is the road to hell…
Not my words, of course, but those of 80s gravelesque crooner Chris Rea. But was he onto something here?
Us marketers have taken to tracking technologies that are so advanced they can build up a profile of a potential buyer more accurately than we can ourselves. We have moved on from first base, where analytics would dutifully supply us with an “idea” of where our audience is – this would only observe the masses. Our software now looks at individual behaviours, where they are, when they act, what they like and don’t like and then stalks them for the rest of their surfing life. And we are probably only at second base.
My first email jaunt was probably delivered to a half-hearted SIC. Today, I’m more likely to enhance a “user experience”. The very least I will do is deliver some content, or a link to some content, to my future customer and little do they know they have been informing me exactly what they want to see, and when they want to see it.
I’ve not created this persona – they’ve told me all I need to know. Maybe next time they unsubscribe from my unsolicited approaches I’ll just remind them it’s their fault. You told me this sir… You asked for it. Don’t zone out on me now, Mr Rea…
Technology is delivering better results for us. It groups similar behaviours together for us, establishes where someone is in the buying cycle, and it communicates with them accordingly. It gives helpful content at the top and a reason to reach for their credit card at the bottom.
It’s also where pitfalls lie because this technology will only work if we feed it. And when it’s hungry, we feed it some more. And when we have been feeding it for a while we only serve its favourites dish – the dish that serves up our customer persona.
There’s science in it, too. Dual process marketing, if you like. And this is where the human brain does come in. Whenever a customer buys something, they have to feel they are making the right decision and will have to think about it, if only for an instant. Feeling and thinking correspond to two brain systems or dual processes – system 1 and system 2.
System 1 creates a great story and frames it in words and pictures that will move minds.
System 2 uses evidence and data to evaluate how, when and where to tell the story and what do with the feedback from those who hear it.
So be careful when you take a brief from a client because they’ll not really understand this. They’ll ask us to create the strongest possible platform for growth. They will ask us to clarify messaging, rationalise processes, gather evidence and tell a story capable of moving buyers to act – the stuff we can control.
Personalisation must be intrinsic to the customer experience. That means different audiences, or individuals, need to be fed meaningful information that aligns with their ambitions, goals and aspirations. Nobody has ever had a strong desire to purchase a nail, but you can bet your bottom dollar they will have had a strong desire to hang a picture of their kids on a wall.
Using the right technology and tools to ensure each interaction is relevant and unobtrusive builds trust and a relationship that translates into enduring customer loyalty.
Analytics will shape a demographic to a certain extent, and web tools can deliver a heat map of a visitor’s journey – but what else do we know about these people. We need to hold their hand throughout, get to know them and let them feel like they are taking control.
The human brain is driven by emotion and laced with biases that can make it prone to bad judgement. Don’t let that happen by feeding your technology from the wrong menu.