November 13, 2019
All eyes are on the top line. Grow or die. A company’s fate lies in the hands of today’s newly empowered customer — a fickle buyer. Yet marketers, again and again, misuse new technologies and customer data to turn customers off.
Truth is, too many marketers are ruining the customer experience and losing the war for revenue. It’s time for some tough love. Here at The CMO Council, we want marketers to succeed. We want them to win customers. But it’s not happening.
The problem can be traced to what Forrester calls “marketing dissonance,” whereby tools and ideas may be individually compelling but aren’t orchestrated in an effective way.
Every marketer has seen Scott Brinker’s supergraphic displaying more than 7,000 logos of marketing tech vendors. This supergraphic supposedly holds the hidden map to marketing’s Holy Grail. That is, marketers can analyze swaths of customer data to deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time.
But this dream has faded into the droning of marketing dissonance. Without consulting the CIO, marketers overbought on martech vendor promises only to learn too late that emerging technology rarely runs as advertised. Marketers unwittingly created a “Frankenstack” — a nightmarish technology architecture — that handcuffed their ability to innovate and adapt to customer whims.
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Marketers also acted hastily, due in part to a corporate climate that rewarded quarterly results and drive-by campaigns. Mistakes were made, especially with personalization. According to a Forrester study, in 2017, 85 percent of marketers said that improving personalization capabilities was a priority, while only 27 percent of U.S. adults said they were willing to let retailers use their personal information to personalize experiences.
The result of this disconnect: Marketers flooded people’s email inboxes and social media feeds with repetitive messages. Thanks to severe cuts to the creative department, boring, indiscernible ads followed people around the Internet. Through automation, marketers foolishly scaled these bad practices to the masses.
Empowered buyers rebelled. Forrester says, “Over time, customers’ receptivity to marketing has eroded, their interest has waned, and they’re actively taking steps to block out the noise with tools like ad blockers and intelligent agents.”
Worst of all, it’s so creepy.
Now is the time for change, a new route to revenue by way of marketing’s creative past.
In the good ol’ days of David Ogilvy and Lou Dorfsman, before autocratic metrics and digital bean counters took over, marketers didn’t creep out customers. On the contrary, great marketers crafted creatives that inspired people and forged relationships. In turn, customers became devoted to brands and opened their wallets.
Marketers can restore their reputation by using empathy to guide their marketing efforts, says Forrester. This doesn’t mean abandoning marketing tech or personalization tools, rather it’s about taking a more balanced approach. Forrester’s ROI model for a marketing budget shows that a moderate shift toward creative spend over six years produces an 18 percent higher overall ROI.
With personalization, a retailer can give customers a choice. Do you want to receive a personalized shopping list? Only during the holidays? Or no personalization whatsoever? It’s about putting the customer first and connecting with them on a human level.
If marketers start now, they’ll stand out in a sea of blandness. They’ll gain a head start in the long road to relationships and revenue. They’ll earn the respect and appreciation from people weary of being creeped out all the time.
And customers will swipe right.
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