It’s hard to imagine the pre-Internet world, isn’t it? It’s akin to thinking about life without cars, television or cellular phones. People born prior to 1985 likely remember a time when browsing, evaluating and purchasing products meant either waiting for a retailer’s monthly catalog to arrive in the mail or jumping in the car for a trip to a boutique, mall or department store.
Today, it’s a whole different ballgame. The advent of digital commerce has not only put a wealth of information and the ability to browse and purchase at our fingertips, but it’s also removed most of the barriers to market entry that existed in a purely brick-and-mortar world.
This seismic shift in the retail landscape has also made it possible for small- and medium-size businesses to deliver super-personal experiences to their customers and compete with much larger entities.
Think David and Goliath: Technology Is Your Slingshot
It’s a classic storyline that has played out it in books and movies for centuries, from the Old Testament to Rudy: Smaller, more nimble competitor uses determination, ingenuity and belief to vanquish the larger and stronger champion.
Today, these underdog scenarios are also unfolding in the business world, with online retailers and ecommerce companies using the power of technology to level the playing field. With relatively small investments of money, time and effort, these digital marketers are able to implement technologies that allow them to capture and curate data on their customers, then use that data to inform their messaging across multiple channels. The result is a digital experience that creates loyalty and advocacy and can serve as a launching pad for your brand.
You Can Gain a Competitive Advantage — If You Act Now
According to VentureBeat, marketing automation has only a 3 percent penetration rate among non-tech companies. This spells opportunity for SMB marketers as it relates to a classic business concept known as the “diffusion of innovations.” As you can see below, the adoption of technology is spread across five classifications of buyers/users:
Single-digit penetration of marketing automation technology coupled with consumer demand for a more personal digital experience equates to opportunity for aspirational marketers. Clearly, when it comes to a proven, but still relatively underutilized technology, being on the front end of the diffusion of innovations bell curve is the goal, but we’re close to an inflection point, and the window of opportunity for early adoption is closing.
Ironically, studies from reputable marketing thought leaders continue to show that digital interactions aren’t living up to customer expectations. As recently as last month, the OpinionLab Customer Feedback Index showed declining levels of customer satisfaction with digital experience.
Why It’s Worth the Extra Investment
For most SMBs, budgets are tight and resources can be even tighter. Many SMB marketers view this an obstacle that hinders their ability to move toward behavioral marketing automation, but if you stop and think about it objectively, those circumstances support investment in a tool that’s designed to drive higher marketing returns and reduce manual processes through automation.
Numerous studies have proven that automated, behavior-driven messages drive a higher return. In fact, a recently published Email Institute study found that triggered messages see 152 percent higher click-through rates on average than “business as usual” emails. Customize your messages based on browsing, app and in-store behaviors, and you have the recipe for super-personalized content that’s sure to drive engagement and strong ROI.
Think about it from this perspective: You’re an online retailer with 100,000 contacts in your database. You’re currently hitting them twice weekly with batch-and-blast emails. And you’re seeing a consistent 4 percent click-through rate, 2.5 percent conversion rate and $30 average order value.
Congratulations, your batch-and-blast approach is consistently netting you around $3K per mailing.
Now, let’s add triggered messaging and personalization to the mix. The same database begins to net us a 5 percent click-through rate (triggered messages) and a 3 percent conversion rate (personalization). These incremental improvements in your conversions are yielding a much higher return and driving more revenues, not to mention the reduction in churn rate, higher average order values and greater lifetime values you’re likely to see.
As a marketer, moving to a platform that enables you to deliver this type of digital experience may cost $10-$20K more per year than a basic tool, but do the ROI analysis and you’ll see that in most cases, the premium is justified.
Write Your Own Underdog Story
You have a tremendous opportunity to be more agile, creative and relevant than some of your larger competitors – marketing automation technology has made it possible. Get out that slingshot and make it happen.
1) Blog: “Will Your Digital Marketing Strategy Rock This Year? 3 Questions to Ask”
2) Ebook: “15 Post-Purchase Emails That Build Loyalty and Drive Revenue”
3) Blog: “Behavioral Data: The Greatest Untapped Marketing Asset”