The Future Is in Present Tense Marketing

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Most lifecycle marketers are still novices, says Conn.
Most lifecycle marketers are still novices, says Conn.

Customer lifecycle campaigning is one of the hot trends among direct marketers, but for it to be effective, a customer's life stage has to be weighed along with the context of the particular buying opportunity.  And that's not easy,  StrongView VP of Marketing Services Katrina Conn told the Direct Marketing News 2014 Marketing & Tech Partnership Summit attendees.

“The customer journey is not linear. Life stage has to be combined with the context of an interaction,” Conn said. “Say you have a customer who went to your site seven times in the past 90 days on an iPad and only opened emails for BOGOs. It's all about how you stitch together things like operating systems, purchase types, and demos.”

Conn used an example of bad lifecycle/contextual targeting from her own experience of remodeling her kitchen. She conducted 50% of the research on styles, materials, and appliances on a particular retailer's website, downloaded its app, and set up appointments to talk with experts at the store. When she appeared, they had no idea that she had been on their site, and weeks later after she purchased cabinets, she got an email offer from the retailer for 20% off a cabinet purchase. “I had engaged with them on at least five touchpoints and they had no idea,” she said. “All they needed to do to create a loyal customer was to stitch together addressable interactions.

But that's easier said than done. “Present Tense marketers,” the practitioners who can market in reaction to a customer's actual state at a given time, are few and far between if they exist at all, according to Conn. The data is available to enable marketers to react contextually, they just can't get their hands on it, she said.

Conn put direct marketers in five classes: the mythical “Present Tense” set; “Leaders” who field successful cross-channel, real-time campaigns; “Followers” who dabble in lifecycle and use some automation and triggered response; “Novices” using basic  segmentation and personalization; and “Beginners” using no personalization.  She said that nearly half of marketers play at the Novice and Follower levels.

Those who aspire to live in the present, in Conn's view, must master personalization, be responsive to the customer at all touchpoints,  deliver a consistent messages across channels, and understand integration at scale.

“It's the old Peppers & Rogers one-to-one marketing coming full circle,” Conn says. “Technology is enabling us to do it.”

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