These days marketers are keen to offer their customers preferential treatment. It is likely that increasing consumer demand, and the companies’ strong urge to fulfil expectation, has been caused by the endless flexibility of digital tools. Dann Binns, Senior Account Director at Epsilon International EMEA, gives advice on how to give customers what they want, when they want it, and of course, in the right format.
Consumers in the digital age want to feel part of an online family; but one that recognises each person’s individual preferences – which is precisely what social media platforms are helping to achieve. However, cultivating a brand-sponsored community of any kind means ensuring that corporate messages resonate with the target audience. More simply put, marketers keen to engage with consumers online need to ensure they’re giving them what they want, when they want it and in the right format.
Consider brand X – a big player in international FMCG markets complete with an all singing, all dancing marketing strategy; enough cash to lure the world’s top creative brains into concocting, implementing and integrating some of the most ingenious on and offline campaigns the global advertising community has ever seen; and the added benefit of possessing a widely recognised insignia. Yet no-one wants to play. Brand X is no playground bully: it’s simply a victim of market saturation. While such ‘maximalist’ marketing does wonders for brand building, it does little to inspire individual endorsements, or word of mouth marketing – precisely what online platforms are great at.
In many ways, email marketing remains one of the most effective ways of directing consumers online, but fierce competition for inbox space means that brands not only need to justify why they’re sending information, but must also empower audiences to specify how, when and what information is sent.
That’s why the importance of the initial email sign up process – using web pages known as preference centres – cannot be underestimated. Irrelevancy is the new spam, and there’s a definite need for those companies sending emails to ensure that customers are given the option to specify the frequency and content of messages. In this way, the consumer benefits from a more tailored communication stream, which is more likely to increase brand engagement, loyalty, purchase activity and most importantly, lead to improved ROI.
Although customer preferences and brand authenticity become important in this environment, enabling website visitors to specify what they’re interested in creates additional opportunities to collate and use new data. For instance, with increased usage of real-time messages for delivering service messaging, billing statements or registration, communications that focus on transactional details can also be used to offer up supplementary marketing information or new sales opportunities specific to the recipient’s interests.
Techniques like these are more likely to raise overall customer satisfaction, improve brand recognition and increase conversions. The key to success is keeping messages both targeted and informative without bombarding the customer.
In the digital age, engagement is a two-way street. As long as brand-sponsored community initiatives enable consumers to assert their influence, they’ll continue to be keen ambassadors with clear and present voices.
By Dan Binns
Senior Account Director
Epsilon International EMEA