Xerox CMO tells marketers to get personal with customers at Digital Marketing Days keynote

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Marketers should focus on creating personal relationships, like Americans in the 1950s had with their corner grocers, rather than only employing new technologies, Christa Carone, CMO of Xerox, told attendees of the Digital Marketing Days conference in New York June 15.

Carone emphasized that value comes from the personal experience, not the technology.

“Marketers should try to understand the unique aspects of each customer and then turn that into a relevant conversation based on that specific customer,” she said.

Carone explained that consumers receive about 3,000 media messages a day, but only pay attention to 52 and remember four. She highlighted this to show marketers face a challenging landscape and should focus on personalization to get through to consumers.

Xerox has used an interactive and personalized video in e-mail to drive sales leads. The video was a silly play on how office workers can turn into “zombies” because of information overload. It included personalized features, such as the consumer's name on messages or an inbox, with the message that Xerox products help manage this overload. The company sent the message to 370,000 customers and prospects. More than three-quarter (76%) viewed the video, which had a referral rate of 50%, she said.

Carone also used other marketers' campaigns as examples of building one-to-one conversations with consumers. Australian pet store chain Best Friends Pets used personalized marketing messages to reach its loyalty customers. It sent direct mail and e-mail based on consumers' activity levels, customized by the kind of animal they own.

“We can all do the ‘Dear Karen' e-mail, but it is about being relevant and making it unique to the customer,” said Carone.

However, Carone warned about getting too personal. She cited a campaign for the Lionsgate film Saw V which allowed consumers to sign themselves and a friend up to receive a personalized phone call from one of the film's characters. Some consumers, who received calls from the killer in the horror movie using their names, mistook the promotional calls for a real threat.

“We don't like it when someone we don't know knows too much about us,” she said.

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