It’s hard to believe that only a decade ago, the process of renting a movie involved heading over the nearest Blockbuster to browse the “New Releases” section to see if anything caught your eye.
The hundreds of titles flooding the walls could be overwhelming, and of course the system of organization (alphabetization) had nothing to do with your individual preferences for dramas versus comedies, Will Ferrell versus Charlie Chaplin, or Schwarzenegger action pics versus ‘60s French films. With nothing to help you cut through the clutter, it could be tough to find a movie selection that matched your preferences.
Compare that to the modern-day movie “rental” experience, where a site such as Netflix provides customized recommendations based on your personal viewing history and movie ratings. In other words, the experience gets better the more you engage. Rent Lincoln and rate it five stars, for example, and you might find recommendations for less-well-known historical epics such as Downfall, Che and Kundun. Talk about enhancing the customer experience.
Changing Customers, Shifting Expectations
Unfortunately, this type of individualized experience is more the exception than the norm. As new marketing channels and mediums have arisen in recent years, many marketers have reacted by taking the same ‘ol approach to these channels, sending more and more generic “push” messages out.
The customer or prospect at the end of all this noise has become overwhelmed and begun tuning out brands because they physically can’t process all the generic marketing and advertising messages that are showing up in their social feeds, email inboxes, mobile apps, etc.
The result is a lackluster customer experience, coming at exactly the same time that Web-savvy buyers have come to expect more. How can marketers adjust?
The answer lies in helping people cut through the clutter around them rather than adding to it. That’s what’s cool about the Netflix experience – they’re filtering out the noise for you and making the experience more relevant to you as an individual.
Many marketers I know want to be more personal, but either don’t know how to get there or feel like they don’t have the resources to make it happen. But as I discuss at my Digital Marketing University sessions, an amazing customer experience is within your reach — you just need to focus on what I call “the three T’s”:
TACTICS: Marketing to the individual
As your customers are interacting with you through your website, emails, social media sites, mobile apps, brick-and-mortar locations and more, they want this behavior to be recognized and reflected in the ways you communicate with them.
So while broadcast emails will always be a part of the marketing mix, delivering highly personalized and individualized messaging requires a shift in how you approach your digital marketing program. The goal is to use what we call behavioral marketing automation to use individuals’ actions to deliver immensely relevant, real-time campaigns of one.
So let’s say someone just came to your culinary website and watched a video on grilling fish. You might follow up via email with one of your most popular fish marinade recipes (as rated by your customers), a link to your ebook on the different types of fish for grilling, and pictures of your three top-selling fish-grilling tools.
What about the next time that customer visits your website or Facebook page? Instead of showing them the same content you would display for a vegetarian or a red meat lover, you could ask them their favorite fish, and then serve up related content.
TECHNOLOGY: Marketing systems become individually aware
For many businesses, their current marketing tech isn’t ready for communicating at an individual level. Siloed systems, list-based databases and aggregate analytics aren’t up to the challenges of marketing to segments of one.
A common problem is that many companies today depend on an email-centric marketing database, yet modern buyers expect a relationship beyond email. A better option in the multichannel world is to employ a unified marketing database that’s integrated across channels and devices – Web, social, SMS, CRM, apps, check-ins, etc. – and enables you to capture these behaviors in one place.
Then, you can use these behaviors to drive automated interactions, across channels. The action of watching a certain video on your site might trigger an email to that individual. Or a text message. Or a print mailing. Or a call from your sales center.
TOUCH: Individual customer and campaign interactions
Marketing departments today need to be centered around the customer experience. What does that mean in terms of customer touches? Your goal should be a more nuanced approach than simply blasting out content to every person in your database, then rewarding the lucky few that click through to your site with a Web experience that has nothing to do with who that individual is, where they came from or how they’ve interacted with you before.
Has a contact opened or clicked on an email? Browsed deep within your website or abandoned a shopping cart? Made a purchase or watched a video on your site? Commented on your blog or tweeted your content? Try building new business rules that reflect these touches.
And look to get more automated, programming communication steps into your marketing that zig and zag depending on how a person has interacted with your company. By adding just a few business criteria that shape the content you serve up to contacts based on their behaviors, preferences and demographics, you can quickly wind up with dozens, even hundreds, of unique messaging paths.
This move from mass marketing and broad segmentation to marketing to the individual is what IBM CEO Ginni Rometty was talking about when she recently told Forbes, “What you will see with rapid data and social sharing is the death of the average and the era of you.”
In the era of “you,” marketing to the “average” through broad segmentation based on geographies, age groups and gender won’t be enough. Instead, make your goal to deliver hyper-individualized content to every person in your database, and watch the experience of your customers and prospects soar.
1) Blog: “Behavioral Email Done Right: Big Ups to Foursquare and Sephora”
2) Video: “Personalizing the Web Experience For Every Customer Through a CMS Integration”
3) Blog: “Make Your Marketing More ‘Bobular’! Treating Every Person Like a Valued Customer”