Irritation Free Marketing
By Tom Ryan
As the parent of any toddler knows, the easiest way to get information sometimes is to ask them. But as the parent of any teenager knows, it’s not always easy to get an answer.
The same holds true with communications between retailers and their customers. Largely due to the arrival of the internet, most retailers are now able to reach consumers across multiple channels in a multitude of ways.
This has significantly expanded the number of touch points where information can be gathered from customers or potential customers. And all this data potentially enables marketers to personalize communications and perhaps even customize products and offerings to them.
The problem comes when all this gathering and collecting of customer data starts to feel more like plunging and hoarding. Feeling stalked and needlessly bothered, customers often clam up and start acting like those sulky teenagers.
Brian Carpizo, co-founder and CEO of Junction Solutions, an enterprise software services firm, wrote in an article on destinationCRM.com that the clinical term for this customer withdrawal process is “psychological reactance.”
Often unintentionally, retailers irritate consumers because they can’t differentiate between useful and the irrelevant customer data. Fearing further intrusion, some retailers have become reticent in exploring the full possibilities of interactive marketing.
But Mr. Carpizo believes smarter customer data gathering tools and the sharing to data across channels can lessen many of these customer-intrusive situations. A more friendlier give and take exchange – which he terms “personalization” – will evolve as marketing shifts from “mass” to “conversation” marketing.
“Conversational marketing is a proxy for an actual discussion about what customers want and what you are able to offer to meet their needs,” Mr. Carpizo. “Retailers must know just enough about their customers to make friendly suggestions about what else they may like to buy without crossing the line where an interaction gets so personal that it makes them uncomfortable.”
Adequate customer data, according to Mr. Carpizo, is the key to making conversational marketing work, particularly the ability to share customer data across channels. This includes sales-oriented and specific customer information as well as specific marketing information, such as how a consumer responds to particular marketing offers.
“Without data that can be accessed across channels, customers cannot be analyzed and segmented according to RFM (recency, frequency, and monetary value) or other characteristics for future orders,” Mr. Carpizo wrote. “In many cases the problem is old-fashioned data segregation. Data obtained from different channels gets stored in different silos or databases with no ability to integrate or access data across the channels.”
Mr. Caprizo says sophisticated personal communications software can sort through the data pile. An enterprise system can analyze a common set of data across channels within a single data schema no matter where it originated. Any changes made in one section can be replicated throughout.
Sophisticated data sharing can make conversational marketing a reality and lead to cross- and up-selling opportunities and loyal customers.
“Conversational marketing and personalization, when done correctly, make the shopper feel special,” Mr. Caprizo concludes. “People like being taken care of in this manner. If you provide this type of service people will start having conversations about you.”
Discussion Questions: What are some key ways to capitalize on customer data without irritating customers? What hurdles need to be overcome in reaching the goal of “conservational marketing?”