How Consumers Really Feel About Ads … and What to Do About It
Your customers are feeling harassed. After browsing your online store, you chase them down with retargeted ads for weeks. If they’ve abandoned a shopping cart, you hammer them with win-back emails. You may even text or call them. Smart cross-channel marketing, right?
Stop accosting your customers! All the "targeted marketing" you’re delivering to them may feel sophisticated to you, but may feel akin to stalking to the customer.
Customers don’t want your spam; they want your positive attention. They want to feel valued and special. You can use your data-driven digital tactics to do that, but you need to take a different approach — one that borrows from loyalty marketing and leverages offline channels to complement and enhance your retargeting. Here’s how it could work:
1. Mind Your Retargeting
There are some retailers which get retargeting right, but there are also a great many that don’t. The good ones continually ask themselves, “Why should they (the consumer) care?” Instead of surfacing that ad for those running shoes at every point along the path to purchase for an entire month, consider the reasons the shopper hasn’t bought them. What does the data tell you about this shopper? Is it someone whose demo data and behavior tells you that they match your customer profile? Are there other signals that provide information about how likely they are to buy?
Pay attention, and retarget accordingly. If this does seem like a likely buyer, retarget them with an offer that shows their value to you, whether it’s free shipping, loyalty points or a gift with purchase. Personalize the offer as best you can, and make sure you’re only displaying the ad to the shopper for a very limited time.
2. Email a Little Less Frequently
And a lot more relevantly. Grab a Sharpie and a post-it and write these words down somewhere you’ll never forget: “Quality over quantity.” We have enough data about our customers today to know how they buy, what they buy and how often they buy. If you’re going to win a customer who has shopped in your store and hasn’t yet purchased, don’t just drop them into a “nurture cycle” and email them twice a week. That’s the fast-track to an opt-out.
Consider emailing them a thank-you note for visiting, make them an offer that appeals to them, and perhaps even ask them about their shopping experience and habits. That will give you the information you need to actually build a relationship with that consumer that might benefit them and you. If the customer is already in your database, make sure you’re really tailoring your emails to their habits and preferences. For example, if you know they typically shop in-store, send them an offer that can be redeemed in-store. Offer them a discount on a category of goods you know they buy, or a free gift from that department. Your customer will feel you know them and value them, and you’ll have the benefit of getting them into the store.
3. Use Digital Beyond its Borders
Your customers have full inboxes, ads in their faces every second on every screen, and even text and push messages on their smartphones. They’re bombarded. Instead of pummeling them with yet another digital message, consider putting something tangible into their hands. An elegant piece of collateral can have a tremendous impact, particularly when you leverage the wealth of digital information at your disposal in the service of personalizing that touchpoint with your customers.
Go beyond basic trigger mail because, remember, the majority of direct mail consumers receive is nonpersonalized bulk. In contrast to “junk mail,” personalized tangible media, sent to the shopper with an offer tailored to their experience and expressed interests, can feel very special — and is very likely to rise above the noise of all the online offers. It sends a strong message that your company respects that shopper’s decision-making process and their experience with your brand by not digitally hounding them.
In short, the lesson here goes beyond “customer first.” (That’s obvious, if still largely ignored.) The more important lesson is message less, but message better. If your customers are important to you, show them. Instead of inundating them with retargeted ads for items they’ve likely already purchased elsewhere, send them something special and meaningful. You have the data to know what they want, so go ahead and make them an offer they can’t refuse.
Lewis Gersh is the CEO of PebblePost, a company that offers programmatic direct mail services.
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