3 Tactics to Stay Connected With Your Target Audience

What can you do today to help you to survive the current state of your market and thrive as it evolves? Consider these three tactics to help you maintain a strong connection with your audience.

Digital marketing — and marketing more broadly — is always about making it clear to your target audience that you can help them address the issue they need to solve. Nothing about the conditions we’re facing today changes that, though the issues your audience is facing very likely have.

So, as much as we’re all tired of hearing about our “unprecedented” times and “the new normal,” we do have to adapt our organizations to the conditions we see in our markets, or risk our own extinction.

What can you do today to help you to survive the current state of your market and thrive as it evolves? Consider these three tactics to help you maintain a strong connection with your target audience.

Trim Costs Without Negatively Affecting Your Audience

Where can you cut costs in a way that does not impact your ability to connect with your target audience? Begin by looking at what you’re doing now. For example, digital ad costs have fallen. If you can craft a message that still resonates with your prospects, you may be able to increase your impact at a lower overall cost, and certainly at a lower CPM. (Be careful, though, if your targeting relies on IP address identification. With many corporate folks working from home, their IP address will not be that of their organization unless they’re accessing the internet through a corporate VPN.)

What alternative to currently dormant channels have you shied away from testing in the past because of budget or bandwidth concerns? Virtual events rather than in-person events is the most obvious choice, but there may be other areas in your arsenal worth investigating.

Explore New Tactics for Your Sales Team to Employ

Speaking of alternatives, if your sales force has typically relied on face-to-face meetings to drive revenue, they’ll be itching for new ways to connect with potential buyers. They may be more open to new ideas than in the past; for example, creating a library of online resources.

The key here is doing the work to ensure that the resources you create align with the sales team’s needs. This makes creating a digital library a great way to get sales and marketing working together, even if they can’t be together physically. (I’m sure some of you are thinking about how that physical distance might make the process easier …)

Even better, a library like this works not only as a short-term play to get the sales team through a time of limited contact with prospects, but it also can pay benefits far down the road in the form of an expanded reach for the sales team as they become more comfortable using these tools in their sales process.

Improve Customer Experience

Don’t forget to check the possibilities already right under your nose. As difficult as it can be to connect with new prospects for many marketers at the moment, existing clients are likely far more receptive to your messaging, particularly if you focus on empathy, humanity, and being helpful.

Ask what help they need, share the struggles that your organization is going through, and make it clear that you will help them any way you can. Consider making a pre-emptive offer to clients that addresses problems you know they are facing. (See Point One above about asking what they need.) The short-term cost of any unpaid effort will pay long-term dividends in the kinds of trust and good will that lead to client retention and improved lifetime value.

How Blockchain Is Beginning to Increase Customer Loyalty

Customer acquisition vs. retention is a debate that has continued to rage for decades. But in a digital age of personalized experiences, customer loyalty is once again a very hot topic and many of the biggest brands are turning to blockchain technology. Now some of the biggest airlines are replacing Airmiles with crypto.

According to Forrester Research, most online retailers invest around 80% of their online marketing budgets on acquiring new customers. However, most people reading this already know that it costs five times more to secure a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.

Customer acquisition vs. retention is a debate that has continued to rage for decades. But in a digital age of personalized experiences, customer loyalty is once again a very hot topic, and an increasing number of companies are turning to blockchain to finally disrupt and bring the loyalty business into the 21st century.

Although it could be described as the epitome of first world problems, many of us don’t want to download an app on our smartphone for every airline we travel on. We have unwittingly created a never-ending list of exchanging points from a myriad of program partners and it’s cumbersome at best, and it shouldn’t be. Thankfully, there seems to be a wind of change in the air and blockchain technology is already beginning to prove it’s much more than another buzzword.

Airline Loyalty Programs Go Crypto

When thinking of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, you could be forgiven for thinking of pie in the sky projects built on empty promises that never come to fruition. But, maybe we should be thinking differently, especially now that Singapore Airlines is introducing a blockchain-based loyalty program and even replacing its air miles with cryptocurrency.

It seems that we are moving into a phase of real-world adoption and although this technology is still in its infancy. We are looking at the radical transformation of traditional loyalty programs as we know them. The current system does not work and is leaving many people with a strong sense of loyalty program fatigue.

What if Blockchain could provide a frictionless system that was both cost-effective for both brands and customers. It would be much easier to increase engagement if you could store all of your collected points in a singular digital wallet. The good news is that this could be one of the many reasons why some of the worlds most prominent airlines are replacing air miles with crypto.

In July, Singapore airlines launched KrisPay and proudly declared that it was the world’s first blockchain-based airline loyalty digital wallet. The technology behind the new system was developed in collaboration with KPMG Digital Village and Microsoft.

“By creating a miles-based digital wallet which integrates the use of miles into their daily lives, KrisFlyer members have yet another way to use miles instantly on everyday transactions.”
—Singapore Airlines CEO, Mr. Goh Choon Phong.

The Blockchain Loyalty Platform Happy Hour

Elsewhere, qiibee, the decentralized blockchain-based loyalty ecosystem, is aiming to provide a loyalty platform and developer interface on which every loyalty application can be tokenized. But, it is attempting to revolutionize the loyalty industry and refreshingly not with promises of technological innovations, but with partnerships and real-world adoption.

Germany´s leading cocktail bar and restaurant chain, Sausalitos is already on board rolling out a new loyalty program. Elsewhere in Europe, Swiss coffee brand Lattesso is also releasing a blockchain-powered loyalty program on the qiibee ecosystem, but this is just the beginning.

Italian Retail Association Confimprese recently formed a strategic partnership that will bring together relationships with some of the world’s most renowned brands across multiple industries. Confimprese’s members include KFC, Disney, Pandora, and petrol station network Agip, with over 6,000 points of sale in Italy.

Although it’s unclear at the moment at which brands will be taking part, the Swiss loyalty token protocol is already helping brands around the world run their loyalty programs on the blockchain. But, this is just a handful of examples of how customer loyalty programs are on course for inevitable transformation.

“Customers worldwide are familiar with air mile programs and loyalty points, and although these are important practices for retailers and brands, customers are limited and restricted in how they can utilize their points and rewards. Now Lattesso customers will be able to exchange their loyalty points for cryptocurrencies from their smartphones.”
—Gabriele Giancola, Co-founder, and CEO of qiibee.

There are many more examples of how the worlds biggest brands are beginning to rethink customer loyalty using blockchain. Now that we all know that it’s merely a decentralized ledger that is unchangeable and fully transparent, maybe the buzzword itself can be retired so that the tech can become invisible.

By providing greater transparency to consumers and more control over their loyalty programs to improve the customer experience. Early indicators suggest that loyalty points will eventually be replaced by tokens that enable users to transfer between friends or redeem for purchases.

It will take several years for this technology to truly enter the mainstream, but with the world’s biggest airlines already embracing it, maybe the future is much closer than any of us realize.

6 CX Best Practices That Aid in Customer Retention

Kudos to American Airlines for delivering a small, but very meaningful American Advantage upgrade — a great customer experience (CX). CX best practices like this aid in customer retention.

Kudos to American Airlines for delivering a small, but very meaningful American Advantage upgrade — a great customer experience (CX). CX best practices like this aid in customer retention.

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to take a number of flights to user conferences that I write about. I always request American, because it’s the primary airline at my airport and I have a lifetime membership in its Admiral’s Club, based on my travel a couple of lifetimes ago.

After months of boarding with Group Six or Seven and playing roulette with whether or not I’d be able to get my carry-on in an overhead bin, I just got bumped to the gold level. That lets me board with Group Four — assuring me I will not have to check my carry-on. Little things mean a lot.

American never asked me about how important this is to me, but it’s huge — to me. Every customer will want something different with regard to a great CX. For customer retention, it’s important to “listen intensely” to learn how you can deliver a better CX.

Here are six CX best practices that come to mind for B2C and B2B organizations:

Document Your CX Best Practices

What are you doing for different customers, different personas? How are customers responding when you go above and beyond? Are you getting the customer feedback you expect?

Start With Your CRM Database

Start with your CRM database, your master data management practices and your business process management. A great CRM is necessary for a great CX. Your customer-facing employees need to know what has taken place with this customer previously, so they can provide more personalized service.

By the way, poor CRM data quality, poor master data management and documentation of business process are consistent pain points for companies attempting to make the digital transformation that will be necessary to provide a great CX.

Emotionally Connect With Your Customers

Understand what it takes to make an emotional connection with your customers — empathy. How do you get it? By having a conversation with your customers and learning what you and your competition are doing to help make your customers’ lives simpler and easier and what else you could be doing. Management hasn’t spoken with customers? Make sure your customer-facing employees are involved in this discussion.

Create a Customer-Centric Culture

David Ogilvy used to put an empty chair in the meeting, so participants would think about how receptive the customer would be to what was being discussed. In order for this to work, there needs to be a sufficiently diverse group of people creating the culture to accurately represent the customer’s point of view.

Engage Customers Via Social Media

Listen to them, respond to them, let them know you care about what they have to say by listening and responding in a timely manner. The faster you respond, the more your customers know you care about what they have to say. After eating 3,200 burrito bowls, Chipotle responds to my tweets in less than 30 minutes — I know they’re listening and appreciate me.

Check in After You’ve Made the Sale

Did the product or service your customers spent money on solve their problem or meet their expectations? If you don’t get a response, you have an engagement issue — especially if you’re a software-as-a-service provider. Learn what’s good and what you can do to improve. CX is a never-ending process.

What other CX best practices are you following or seeing others implement?

When ‘Customer Service’ Makes Things Worse

When a customer has to contact customer service, you’ve already messed up. When that customer service is lacking, lazy or downright stupid, it might as well be an ad for your worst competitor. And this weekend, a Windows 10 glitch and bonehead customer service nearly sent my household to the waiting arms of Apple.

When a customer has to contact customer service, you’ve already messed up. When that customer service is lacking, lazy or downright stupid, it might as well be an ad for your worst competitor. And this weekend, a Windows 10 glitch and bonehead customer service nearly sent my household to the waiting arms of Apple.

So, the situation was this: With the latest updates, some Windows 10 computers are running into an issue where the PC suddenly stops recognizing the mouse and keyboard. This isn’t even a new issue, some users have been experiencing issues with this since the upgrades started. And this weekend, that happened to my home desktop (right in the middle of my wife using it, too). Both devices worked fine in the system boot menu — so the issue wasn’t with the hardware or USB drives — but once Windows started … nothing.

Smash computer gifSince our desktop does not have a touchscreen, voice interface or mind-reading attachment, it was effectively bricked. All I could do was restart it and access the boot menus during start-up, and the only useful thing there was a full hard drive factory image rest. (This was also how I found out Windows 10 no longer has the old reliable safe mode.)

OK, I know this game. I need to go find a driver or something and figure out a way to install it with a rescue disk of some sort. … I’m never, ever getting this time back,  but I should be able to find what I need to fix it.

To the Googles I Go!

(Side note: Don’t mistake that for a chipper mood. There is no wasted time I resent more than time wasted fixing a computer problem the OS created.)

One of the trends that’s emerged in customer service, especially around computing, is the customer service forum. Rather than man countless customer service lines, a manufacturer sets up a forum where it hopes customers will help each other with their problems. It may even staff the forum with CSRs (perhaps AI CSRs).

So I find my way to the Microsoft forum where at least a few other users are running into the same problem. And the reply from the Microsoft support person is to launch the hardware device troubleshooter by pressing the Windows Key and X. …

Remember, this is to fix a computer where the keyboard and mouse are not working.

Oh, but he has other advice: Uninstall and reinstall the keyboard and mouse drivers … Also by pressing Windows Key and X …

After some incredulous replies, another Microsoft rep posts a different answer: Perform a “clean boot” (apparently this replaced safe mode) by … using the mouse to pull up the system configuration menu and navigate around that to start the clean boot.

Now, I’ve been a lifelong Windows user at home. I’ve used Apple machines at work for years because that’s what publishers tend to provide for the creative teams, but at home I’ve been a pretty loyal Windows user. I even have an Xbox.

And I swear by the time I was done this weekend, I was pricing out Macs for my home. I’ve never seen a more effective ad for Apple products in my entire life than the idiocy of some of the Windows customer service.

So, I did the only logical thing and performed a hard disk factory image restore via the manufacturer’s boot menu (not Microsoft) … And now I am once again the owner of a Windows 7 machine.

This is not the outcome Microsoft wanted.

So, my advice to all marketers, especially IT marketers, is mind your customer service. Because it only takes a few stupid customer service replies to make a loyal customer rethink your entire ecosystem.

The LTV of My GTI Is Tied to My NPS

Buying a new car is a big deal for most of us. Once we get the notion in our heads, we actually start watching car commercials, notice what other people are driving, think about what we hate in our current vehicle that can be “fixed” in our new one, read online reviews, seek out the advice of others, etc. Bottom line is, it’s probably the second biggest purchase you’ll make (next to a house), so you’re a little more thoughtful about the process.

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

Buying a new car is a big deal for most of us. Once we get the notion in our heads, we actually start watching car commercials, notice what other people are driving, think about what we hate in our current vehicle that can be “fixed” in our new one, read online reviews, seek out the advice of others, etc., etc. Bottom line is, it’s probably the second biggest purchase you’ll make in a while (next to a house), so you’re a little more thoughtful about the process.

And while the fun of shopping for something new is always fabulous, the real proof-of-concept comes when you take that baby in for its first service check-up. Now that they’ve made the sale, how well does the brand treat you to ensure you’ll keep buying from them again and again? As a marketer, this is where the rubber hits the road … forget all the carefully crafted content, emails with offers, and direct mail packages about recalls or tune-up reminders. It’s the visit itself that makes or breaks your relationship with the brand.

Two years ago, when the last of my kids was headed to college, he needed his own set of wheels. But instead of buying him something used by a stranger, I decided to give him my 10-year old Acura and get Mama a little somethin’ new to spin around town. I wanted something sporty and fun to drive and considered a MINI, but after a test drive, found it a little too low to the ground for all the potholes in my area.

After getting a ride home from a friend one night, I fell in love with her Volkswagen GTI. It was good looking, roomy on the inside and gas efficient. So I headed to the VW dealer with my list of demands.

Tony probably couldn’t believe his luck when I rolled into his showroom on that fateful Saturday: I wanted a white VW GTI, 6-speed stick on the floor, black leather interior, sunroof. He made a quick call and my dream car was driven up to the door outside his office, 2 miles on the speedometer.

If I said I peeled rubber out of that parking lot, would that sound too braggartly? I love driving a stick shift, and Tony clung to the hand rail as I zoomed around a few tight corners and headed out to the open road.

SOLD! I negotiated a few extras (including a 3-year service package) and was out the door in two hours with my new toy.

At 5,000 miles I sauntered back in for a tune-up. Everything was good and I was back to terrorizing the roads.

I got a recall notice about some part around 9,000 miles. Booked an appointment, but received a call that the part wasn’t in yet, and they’d call me back. Never heard from them again.

At 15,000 miles, I was due for another tune-up, so I booked an appointment and watched as my “check engine” light came on two days before my scheduled day.

The problem really started when I got a call around noon telling me my car was being washed and would be ready to be picked up after 2 p.m. At 3 p.m., they called to say another warning light had come on, and they were checking it out. At 4 p.m., they called to say they couldn’t figure out what was wrong and needed to keep the car overnight. That’s always a big hassle, but I quickly made other arrangements. I called in the morning to check-in. Sorry, the car still wasn’t ready. I called at noon … sorry, still not quite ready. They called me at  2 p.m. to tell me it was ready, but I was busy, so my husband volunteered to pick it up.

The next morning I climb back into my baby, but in the middle of a 30-mile drive away from the dealership in a blinding rainstorm, an emergency message flashes at me on my dash telling me my tires were underinflated. Wha–?!?

I start to sweat. I call the service guy on the phone, tell him my issue and he, of course, says, “Why don’t you just stop by?” Um … because it’s INCONVENIENT.

I finally get back to the dealership by 4 p.m. and after a 30-minute wait, I’m told the tires were okay after all … somebody in the service department hadn’t reset the computer in my car after they were rotated. Grrr …

24 hours later I get an email from “Sandy,” the woman at the dealership in charge of customer care. She advised me that I would be getting an email from VW Corporate, and wanted to make I would be rating my experience as “extraordinary.” Since you and I both know that the dealership probably has a target Net Promoter Score (NPS) and my service rating would not be “10” I decided to email her back. I carefully recounted my experience, step-by-painful-step, and told her my experience would rate far less than “extraordinary.” I had barely hit “Send” when my phone rang.

Sandy was extremely apologetic and dismayed over my experience. Not only did she thank me for taking the time to respond, but she claims she ran it “upstairs” and was authorized to give me $500 off on my next service appointment. That’s all well and good, but since I have a service plan, that doesn’t help me at all … “No problem!” she exclaimed. Use the $500 towards new tires, or floor mats, or whatever my little heart desired.

Is this “gaming” the system? Is her interference between my experience and the corporate research team changing the way this dealership is ranked and scored on customer service? Probably.

Will I give them an “extraordinary” rating? I’m still not sure. I’m worried that if they found out I gave them 8 out of 10, they might take my $500 away from me. For now, I’m just idling …

Creative Cage Match: Battle of the ‘Miss You’ Emails

Ahhh, win-back emails. Or as I like to call them “Miss Yous” (but not “youse” — insert New Jersey joke here). The marketer wants to win back the customer, so out come the puppy-dog eyes and usually some sort of device to get the customer to take action; whether that’s a discount code, some incentive to login, etc. Let’s see who can tug on my heartstrings the best.

There’s a reason that pro-wrestling is so popular — and it’s not just the juicy drama and bespangled costumes. People love a good fight, and have for millennia, dating back to the gladiators of Rome and beyond.

So, once a month I’m going to select two marketers and toss them into a Creative Cage Match. I’ll be looking at everything ranging from email to direct mail, website to mobile site. It’ll be a mix of objective and subjective, and each time a marketer will walk out of the ring triumphantly.

Miss You BearAhhh, win-back emails. Or as I like to call them “Miss Yous” (but not “youse” — insert New Jersey joke here). The marketer wants to win back the customer, so out come the puppy-dog eyes and usually some sort of device to get the customer to take action, whether that’s a discount code, some incentive to login, etc.

Let’s see who can tug on my heartstrings the best:

In this corner, we have ThinkGeek, an e-tailer based out of Fairfax, Va. with a focus on geeky and pop culture-themed goods. If you’re not a customer, you may know these fine folks thanks to their infamous April Fool’s Day emails and zany fake products.

And across the ring, we have Redbubble, a creative community and marketplace that allows users to upload and sell designs on merchandise ranging from postcards to stickers, from t-shirts to decorative throw pillows. If you have a creative idea and the ability to design, you can make a little extra cash within this community marketplace (and if you like to shop for unique t-shirts, this is the place for you!)

Email vs. Email

As a marketer, if you want customers to come back, you have to give them a solid reason. Let’s look at some email:

 

Miss You email from ThinkGeek
First up we have ThinkGeek with the subject line, “Just because we miss you: 20% off any order at ThinkGeek!” All right … the offer right in the subject line, front and center in the inbox, piques my interest.

Now, sadly, the preheader text is a bit lackluster, but the rest of the copy works for me:

We miss you! Here, take 20% off any order

We haven’t seen you around recently, and we wanted you to know we’ve been busy monkeys! We have new gear from recent movies, TV shows, and video games, on top of our old favorites. If you wanted to come have a look, maybe we could make it worth your time? How’s 20% off any order from now until 11:59pm ET November 3rd sound?

The discount is pretty good, the email doesn’t get too complicated, nor does it trip all over itself, and the use of the mascot Timmy is an excellent fit. Simple and clean … if only ThinkGeek had written a decent preheader.

Anyway, I digress. Let’s look at Redbubble’s email:
Miss You email from Red Bubble“We miss you Melissa Ward” … whoa … full name. If they slipped my middle name in there I would have sworn I was in trouble with my mom. We know personalization gets people’s attention, and my first AND last name popping up in the promotional tab of my Gmail definitely make me pause.

Again, we have some serious weak sauce when it comes to the preheader: “It’s been awhile.” Yeah, um great. Moving along, we have a nice header image with some products and “We Miss You” in wonderfully large type.

The copy, much like ThinkGeek’s is on-brand and simple:

We’ve been chatting with your inbox, and you know what it said? It said it needs some art in its life. So to make sure it gets what it wants, we’re giving you 10% off anything you fancy on Redbubble.

Okay, so this cage match win is a tough one. The emails are very similar … ThinkGeek makes a better offer, and gave me more time to use the discount (I received the email Oct. 26 and the code is good until Nov. 3). Redbubble’s discount is smaller, and I only have 48 hours to use it. But this isn’t about offers … it’s about the win-back.

And well … sorry ThinkGeek and Redbubble, but I think this is a double countout. I’m a tough customer to woo with a win-back email, and neither one really did it for me. Each marketer got bits and pieces right, but nothing for a full win.

I miss you fix itWant more email creative critiques? Well guess what, you’re in luck! Last week I was part of a panel on email creative during Target Marketing’s annual All About Email Virtual Conference and Expo! The entire show is available now on-demand, and it’s FREE! What are you waiting for?

Don’t Be ‘That’ Brand

Everyone’s annoyed — or at least millennials are, according to eMarketer, and they are taking action. Ad-blocker software use by millennials has grown over 34 percent since last year and will grow another 24 percent by 2017 — all because consumers are looking to control the annoying ads delivered to their devices and now can readily and easily do so.

Millennials are annoyed, according to eMarketer, and they are taking action. Ad-blocking software use by millennials has grown over 34 percent since last year and will grow another 24 percent by 2017 — all because consumers are looking to control the annoying ads delivered to their devices and now can easily do so. But this has implications for more than just those making ad-blocking software and millennials: As marketers, we must tread carefully.

Sprout Social recently unveiled their Q3 Social Index report that polled social users to determine what makes them follow a brand and what annoys them enough to sever their relationships with a brand. The poll identified five primary annoyance factors (numbers 1-5 below) that consumers encounter with brands in social channels. That seems like a good place to start if you’re trying to avoid being “that” brand — the one that constantly has to rebuild their lists and communities, elicits little brand engagement, receives no loyalty and maintains high acquisition costs.

To avoid this, you must know your audience, track your successes and avoid certain bad behaviors.

  1. Don’t over-promote. You do have other content, don’t you? Plan your communications and consider the volume and cadence that best support your audience. And don’t forget all the factors you can’t control, like the other brands bombarding your audience at the same time you want their attention.
  1. Don’t use slang and jargon that doesn’t fit your brand or audience. There is an appropriate place for slang and jargon — you’ll know if it resonates with your intended audience or not.
  1. Don’t be boring, forgettable or undifferentiated. Create and maintain a brand voice and personality. This extends into the content you produce and the relationships you foster with consumers online.
  1. Don’t use humor indiscriminately. Be very careful mixing your brand with satire or news events. Too many brands have been guilty by association and tarnished by misguided efforts.
  1. Don’t ignore consumers who reach out to you. Respond directly and personally as the consumer holds great power and reputations are on the line. A recent Twitter study reported by Techcrunch noted that:

“ … brands see the best results when they respond more quickly, and that businesses shouldn’t be scared off by negative tweets — 69 percent of people who tweeted negatively said they felt more positive after the business responded”

How else can you avoid annoying your customers and prospects?

  1. Don’t use predatory, creepy techniques to get your message in front of desired audiences. No one wants to feel stalked, and no one likes a stalker.
  1. Be polite. Don’t use disruptive ad types that force your audience to jump through hoops to get back to their intended activity. The brand message is not the reason that users are available to you. They came to check some scores or read an article or play a game or get directions.Don’t assume that more is better. Show some restraint in email, ads and other content. All the over-the-line brand attention cumulatively makes the consumer a target, and they feel that bull’s-eye on their backs.
  1. Don’t make new technology a goal. Shiny objects are about what you want and your marketing efforts should revolve around what your customers need.
  1. Don’t overreach in ways that can jeopardize your consumers’ privacy or security. The very least you owe them is a safe interaction with your brand.
  1. Don’t treat everyone and every interaction alike. Depth of relationship, prior responses, intent cues, device choice and other factors should all play into your communication style and content.

Consumer backlash against brand presence and promotion across digital touchpoints reveals our lack of patience with communications. We get annoyed too, and we panic: Is this an outgrowth of climbing consumer expectations?  How will brands keep up? There are real pressures on brand managers and marketers to continually raise the bar and get in front of desired consumers — sometimes at almost any cost. But that is a short-term solution that can cost you in the long-run.

Being a jerk of a brand turns consumers away and raises the price of keeping and acquiring customers. Instead, work on the value proposition you bring to customers and then display some restraint and selectivity in how you message and promote. Choosing not to be “that” brand might just make you the “it” brand in the long run.

Direct Mail Acquisition vs. Retention

Surprisingly, many people don’t know the difference between sending direct mail for acquisition purposes and sending direct mail for retention purposes. The most common response we get is, “why can’t I send everyone the same thing?”

direct mail retention vs. acquisitionSurprisingly, many people don’t know the difference between sending direct mail for acquisition purposes and sending direct mail for retention purposes. The most common response we get is, “why can’t I send everyone the same thing?” The reason is that prospects (acquisition) and customers (retention) are very different. You know about your customers, who they are and what they have purchased from you before, so your direct mail to them can be much more personalized. Let’s take an in-depth look at the two:

1. Direct Mail Acquisition

Direct mail that falls in this category is to get you new business. This means that you are sending to prospects who either do not know your company or may know of you a little bit. So the first thing you need to do is to get their attention before your piece is thrown out. Once you have their attention, you need to concisely convey who you are and what you can do for them. The key here is to list all the benefits they will get from your product or service — creating a need for your offer is a must. Then you need a strong call to action to drive their response. In many cases, a small, free giveaway or an introductory discount is given to entice them. It is also a good idea to create a sense of urgency by limiting the length of time the offer is available.

2. Direct Mail Retention

Direct mail that falls in this category is to keep your customers buying from you. This can be to get them to buy new products or services you offer, or ancillary items to what they have purchased before. The types of products or services you offer may limit the frequency of this type of mail. Do not send the same direct mail over and over to your customers. It will be trashed. You need to only send them mail that has new offers.

Retention mail is easier because your customers know you and are willing to read what you send them. You also know your customers so you can provide them only the offers they would be most interested in. This keeps your costs down and your ROI up. This is not to say that you don’t need strong benefits and a strong call to action, it is to say that you already have their attention, so use it well. Keep in mind that giving them a special customer only offer really helps to get responses.

Your direct mail campaigns can be a combination of acquisition and retention as long as you use the correct messaging to both. Variable data can help you do that while keeping everything together as one mailing to keep your postal discounts. Many times it is necessary to mail separately simply because you are mailing to acquisition people more often than you are to retention people.

Keep in mind that your response rate on acquisition mail will be smaller than retention mail. It takes seven to 10 touches for people to feel as though they know your company and would be willing to buy from you. Keep in mind that the touches can come from all different channels, they don’t all need to be direct mail. Another way to help acquisition people to buy from you is to include testimonials. When they can read how others feel about your product or service it eases some of the tension they feel trying something new. Give unique attention to both groups of people to improve your results.

Retention Starts With Onboarding

Many purchase decisions come with months of angst, review of competitive options, and discussion among peers, family and friends, or in the case of a business purchase, stakeholders and management. Some are impulse buys, given no more thought than a click of a button. But when you finally do pull the trigger, what does that brand do to try and retain you as a customer other than immediately start to upsell you to another product or service?

Customer retentionMany purchase decisions come with months of angst, review of competitive options, and discussion among peers, family and friends, or in the case of a business purchase, stakeholders and management. Some are impulse buys, given no more thought than a click of a button. But when you finally do pull the trigger, what does that brand do to try and retain you as a customer other than immediately start to upsell you to another product or service?

In a blog posted nearly a year ago, I wrote about my personal experience making a college “purchase” decision for each of my twin boys. It’s certainly a brand decision that is worth, in some instances, over $100,000 to the institution selected, so you’d think (no, expect) them to understand and optimize the relationship from day one. For one college, they did exactly that … but for the other, not so much.

For many marketers, the focus is entirely on the front-end of the sales process. And while those efforts are critically important to fill the pipeline, it’s equally important to make sure your new customer is aware of all the resources available post-purchase including training videos, user groups, access to tools and add-ons, and other ways to optimize their brand experience.

Too often, the first contact post-purchase is an email that tries to sell you more goods/services, and that can be a complete turn-off.

In a pilot campaign for AAA of Northern California, Nevada and Utah, new AAA members were asked to complete a short online survey so follow-up emails would be more relevant to their lifestage. Those with teenagers, for example, were probably most concerned with new driver safety, while empty nesters wanted to know how to use their AAA card to access better travel deals. The result was a huge lift in open and click through rates — and, by continuously communicating the value of membership, an increase in retention rates.

After B-to-B targets sign up for a free demo at LifeSize, they are sent a series of emails that help them get set up, add users, set up a video chat, set up a group chat, etc. Experiencing the product with all the bells and whistles helps ensure a maximum product experience, increasing conversion rates. But they don’t stop there — post-purchase emails continue to give tips and tricks on how to use the product to its fullest.

Now let’s go back to my college experience. One of my twins decided to change colleges this fall, after completing his freshman year. After he was accepted at his new school and had accepted the offer for a dorm room, he received several “retention” emails: an introduction from the student who “heads” the dorms, inviting him to drop by for coffee; an introduction from an upperclassman that will be acting as his mentor (“Ask me anything about campus life!”); an invitation to sign up for an orientation session that involves rafting down a local river; an announcement that the campus food service just won a Silver Award … for the Best Food on a College Campus! Do you think he’s looking forward to attending this school for a few years? Sign us all up!

But the best message of all came from the Admissions Office. Without us even asking, they went ahead and researched his freshman year course work at his previous college and advised him that they had transferred/accepted specific course credits, so he has all of his electives now completed for two years. That’s what I call customer service.

In my experience, only a handful of brands do anything post-sale other than promote sale items or send a little chest-beating message. In many industries, newsletters are considered passé, and considering how much content we know consumers want, I’m surprised more brands don’t understand how to leverage it to keep customers engaged until the next membership renewal and/or selling opportunity.

I’d love to hear some other best practices so we can all learn from these marketing leaders.

Geo-Targeted Mobile Marketing Is Not a Trend

Video accounts for 50 percent of all mobile data. Experts are predicting that geo-targeted mobile marketing will be the hottest trend for 2014. A large majority of mobile advertising focuses on location, as this is one of the biggest advantages to utilizing this type of marketing. Along with geo-targeting comes a ton of great reasons to include video into your marketing mix if you haven’t yet

Video accounts for 50 percent of all mobile data.

Experts are predicting that geo-targeted mobile marketing will be the hottest trend for 2014. A large majority of mobile advertising focuses on location, as this is one of the biggest advantages to utilizing this type of marketing. Along with geo-targeting comes a ton of great reasons to include video into your marketing mix if you haven’t yet. This week’s blog will give you some insight on some of the benefits of using geo-targeted mobile marketing.

Remember the first day of college when you tried to get to your classes by reading a map? Remember the embarrassment of entering the class late? If you could have had a more efficient way to navigate to your classes, I’m sure you would have used it. If you were an administrative decision maker for the same school, you would find data used by those same lost students helpful in planning the flow of traffic for your next event.

Businesses inside of malls are now offering banner related ads in part of their targeting. Many of these retailers are including a directory to the their searched stores making them easy to find as well as dangling a bunch of carrots in front of their retail noses. You can forget about having to look for the kiosk that shows the “You are here” arrow. Mobile marketing not only helps with ROI, it also helps maintain customer retention by offering easy-to-find sales and store location, the shopping experience just got easier.

Apps like Vine and SnapChat are making a killing on posts with advertising. Businesses like the Gap encourage their visitors to use these types of apps to shout out “cool” finds while visiting their stores. With the idea that you can send and receive information about sales while you’re on the go it seems that this is really going to make some waves at the cash registers.

What good is advertising when you are physically on the move? The cell phone is the perfect solution to people on the go who don’t want to carry a ton of direct mail, newspaper coupons etc., while they shop.

This type of data is collectable and can be monitored, measured and maintained with the help of Google Analytics.

While they have been predicting the use of mobile marketing as the hottest tool next to the Ginsu Knife, this year will prove to be one of the biggest uses of mobile marketing.