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Love Them or Lose Them: What Marketers Can Learn From Online Dating

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by: Teri Andrews (@teri_andrews)
20 August 2013

Picture this: Your new love interest asks if you’d like to share a seafood appetizer immediately after you tell him (or her) that you’re deathly allergic to shellfish.

You groan.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” he (or she) says. “The (wo)men I date usually love seafood.”

Would you be offended? Definitely. Would you go on a second date? Not likely.

While unfortunate, this scenario demonstrates how developing relationships depends on good personalized communication skills — the ability to listen and demonstrate a genuine interest in learning what makes a person tick. Perhaps that’s why 40 million Americans have tried online dating; it enables users to get to know each other and identify common interests before making an investment of both time and money.

In the same way that dating sites help couples eliminate some of the more awkward first date conversations, marketing automation helps companies avoid similar faux pas with customers and prospects. Here’s what you can learn about wooing buyers from online dating:

Get the full profile: Online dating sites provide a single platform from which users can communicate with many people, one-on-one, and share tons of information before meeting in person. Similarly, with an integrated marketing automation platform — one capable of collecting and storing customer data from email campaigns, websites, social media platforms, etc. — you can get to get to know and build relationships with buyers as unique individuals.

Prove you’re paying attention: You know he likes to lift before cardio, not the other way around. Likewise, don’t even try to get her to do anything but yoga on Sunday; it’s her day of rest. In the same way that lovebirds pay attention to each other’s likes and dislikes, you can use automated software to track universal behaviors, enabling you to learn what your customers like, do (when and on what channel), and avoid.

Make him (or her) feel special: You can follow the lead of other early-daters and bring your new love interest a bouquet of roses, or you could really score by showing up with her favorite flowers. Likewise, behavioral marketing helps you make an impression with customers by customizing content for each buyer, based on preferences, buying stage, purchase history, recent views, cart abandons and more.

Be thoughtful: Your new guy has the flu. He’s certainly not going out tonight, so you drop by with hot soup and a box of tissues. Geotargeting enables you to be just as generous — and incredibly relevant — with your customers. For example, say you own a bakery. You know Margaret, an on-and-off customer of yours, visits the coffee shop next door at 8 a.m. every day. How much more likely do you think she’d be to buy a muffin from you if you text her a discount at exactly 7:55? Or, imagine that Tom, a regular shopper on your site, just looked at your raincoats but didn’t buy one. What if you sent him an email with similar raincoats, and made it pop by including a local weather forecast for the upcoming week? I’d bet he’ll want to be prepared for that coming storm.

Narrow your search: Sure, some have to kiss a few frogs before they find their ideal mate, but that’s the function of online dating sites: to help you weed out those with whom you’re unlikely to make real connections. That’s why savvy B2B marketers use lead scoring to narrow the scope and receive more qualified leads. No one, including your sales reps, should waste time on prospects who are unlikely to buy.

Just as there are a lot of wonderful people looking for love, there are plenty of potential buyers for your product. But will you settle for finding Mr. or Ms. “Right” the old-fashioned way — by waiting around for him or her to wander into your life — or will you leverage the power of behavioral marketing automation to start attracting the right customers right now?

Related Resources:

1) Ebook: “Print Money Today: 7 Emails Marketers Should Automate to Drive Massive ROI

2) Blog: “5 Cross-Channel Use Case for Universal Behaviors

3) Blog: “Website, Meet Marketing Automation


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