Consumers increasingly experience marketing in a multichannel way. They research and purchase products online, receive email newsletters and offers from their favorite brands, and use text messaging almost as often as they talk on the phone. With plenty of good data on each of these communication channels, marketers need a better way to interact with consumers in a more relevant and meaningful way. Direct digital marketing -- digital marketing that addresses a specific consumer through an email address, a mobile phone number, or a Web browser cookie -- is the method marketers are using to improve customer engagement. This increasingly popular approach, when done well, makes the job of the marketer much easier while simultaneously boosting key brand-customer relationship metrics (e.g., loyalty and sales) in ways a single-channel strategy simply cannot.
Direct digital marketing takes advantage of the data investment many marketers have already made. They are able to dramatically increase the relevance of their marketing communications by combining data from multiple channels into one marketing data mart -- a foundational element of direct digital marketing. Statistics show that the more relevant a message is, the more likely the consumer will act on that message. Likewise, the more data a marketer has at his disposal, the more relevant a campaign can be, and in turn, the better it performs. While improvements in campaign performance and relevance are obvious benefits for marketers, the less visible -- but equally important -- benefit of direct digital marketing is its ability to enhance process automation. Marketers spend too much time manually tweaking tactics when that time could be better spent on developing new strategies.
While benefits to the marketer are clear, they become even more valuable when consumers respond. Here are three real-world examples of how marketers in any industry can use direct digital marketing tactics to positively impact their customer relationships:
Delivery status notifications: Big box retailers are an example of businesses that sometimes suffer tenuous relationships with their customers. When customers place an item for home delivery, they often have to rearrange their schedule to ensure they are available to receive the new item. Customers expect timely delivery, but that is not always the case. If a delivery is delayed, customers usually have to waste valuable time visiting the Web site or dialing customer service to learn a simple piece of information -- the status of their package. It is possible to avoid forcing customers into an inconvenient situation by allowing them to text a short code and receive the delivery status of their package. The text service is easy and inexpensive to set up and it provides valuable, timely information for a suddenly less anxious customer.
Service installation appointment reminders: Cable companies have a notoriously unstable relationship with their customers and therefore actively seek opportunities to improve customer relationships. When new customers purchase services from a cable company, they make an installation appointment and then receive an email reminder for the appointment several days before it is scheduled to occur. Though an important and helpful service for the customer, the email reminder sometimes arrives too far in advance of the actual appointment and fails to maximize the positive impact of the program on the customer. Expanding the installation reminder program to the mobile channel by sending the customer a text message hours before an appointment is a more beneficial service through a more precise channel. The improved timing of the message, and flexibility of the mobile channel, changes how the customer perceives the brand, boosting loyalty.
Real-time customer service improvement: While email, and especially mobile, are extremely useful for engaging consumers with direct digital marketing, onsite targeting is also a valuable asset. Captured survey information -- or any type of feedback directly from the consumer -- can be used to understand when customers are dissatisfied and in real time, improve their experience on the Web site. Customer service call centers are infamous for forcing new products onto highly dissatisfied customers who are least likely to respond positively. Trying to sell to customers something who are already dissatisfied with a difficult Web site experience can be just as bad. Onsite targeting technology (e.g., using the Web cookie "address") is used to tailor the site experience to a specific consumer based on Web behavior such as click pattern or keyword searches. Define specific areas on a Web site, or during the checkout process, and use targeted, personalized, dynamic content to answer commonly asked questions or include information that can transform a dissatisfied customer into a loyal buyer.
In the modern, ever-innovating world of marketing, it is possible to simultaneously use relevance to better engage consumers and significantly improve the marketing process. Direct digital marketing enables marketers to take full advantage of the multichannel environment consumers already operate in to form stronger and more profitable relationships.
About the Author
Brian Deagan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the cofounder and chief executive officer of Knotice, a direct digital marketing solutions company. For more information about Knotice visit http://www.knotice.com or the company's blog http://lunchpail.knotice.com.
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