Hey, E-Tailers: Wake Up!
It's time to get relevant.
It's time to get relevant.
Forty-three days into CAN-SPAM, and results are highly predictable. Law-abiding marketers have worked overtime to ensure all their messages comply with the new law. The dark side: pornographers, deceitful Viagra cloners, and get-rich schemers have lost not one wink of sleep. Regular readers know I supported CAN-SPAM all along but cautioned those with expectations that the law alone would expel all spam from the inbox.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Bill Gates, a guy who knows a thing or two about making money, echoed the belief a financial solution is the only way to eradicate spam from mailboxes. His solution is to make spam unprofitable via a paid email system. With the pronouncement, I suddenly felt like all those fledgling software developers with really cool products that didn’t find their way into Microsoft’s offices. Now that Bill says it, it must be true.
Pundits who were passionate about CAN-SPAM are now resigned to the fact it won’t end spam. Like children waiting for Santa Claus, they wanted to believe miracles would happen and everyone would just get along.
As I pound my fist on my desk, demanding “reputable” marketers’ rights be protected at all costs, I worry about the state of direct marketing and an apparent lack of energy, creativity, passion, and plain old common sense regarding changing consumer purchasing dynamics. Many direct marketers’ marketing strategies are caught in a time warp. Focused on staying the course and remaining true to their legacy, marketers are in grave danger of missing market shifts and losing valuable customers.
As a consumer, I make most of my purchases through the direct channel. I believe I represent a silent yet powerful majority of consumers who are fed up with the fact retailers and e-tailers with whom we’ve done business for nearly 20 years continue, at every interaction, to treat us like new customers. My trash bin overflows with unsolicited messages from reputable marketers.
I know. You’re thinking, “Why should we personalize?” It’s so much cheaper to send everyone the same catalog or email. It costs time and money to create customized offerings. Those Girl Scout troops with recycling drives hope you guys never do get it.
Targeted marketing works. With email it’s efficient and relatively easy to execute, as long as your provider and/or system has the capability.
According to a December 2003 Jupiter report, dynamic content dramatically improves results and lowers customer fatigue. The study found, depending on the complexity of such dynamically targeted campaigns, performance could increase four to eight times over the traditional batch-and-blast approach.
As consumers migrate rapidly to paperless email and Internet channels, they find refuge in knowing a simple tap of the delete key removes unwanted, unsolicited, and irrelevant messages from their inboxes. In this channel, smart, hard-working, forward-thinking marketers can actually use all the great data in their warehouses to construct email customer communications that are truly contextual.
Imagine sending email to your customers with dynamically generated offers that match their transactional profile. How would you feel if a vendor actually took the time to provide ongoing communication that focuses on exactly what you need and doesn’t waste time or attention on products you don’t want? This is how to drive performance and customer relationships while reducing opt-outs and spam complaints.
Most e-tailers use email in the same manner and method in which they use direct mail or catalogs. It’s cheap, they reason, send more. No need to personalize or segment audience or offer. If you throw enough at the customer wall, some will hit the bull’s eye. That may have worked in the old days, but the method is doomed to fail in the new consumer reality.
Unless you e-tailers grow up and start using customer data and information to craft meaningful dialogues, you’ll succumb to the shifting tides of consumer preference.
‘Til next time,