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5 Unappetizing Marketing Combinations

My fiancé and I love to cook, and every Sunday we scrutinize our collection of recipes to plan our meals for the week. While I tend to select recipes for more traditional dishes—e.g. spaghetti, beef stew—my fiancé likes to pick recipes for, shall we say, unique mashups—think lasagna soup and taco casserole.

I’ve tried to convey to him that some meals are better off standing alone. In my humble opinion, lasagna should be its own meal, as should a taco. However, almost every week he pitches me some new concoction.

Marketers can be guilty of unsavory fusions, too. Here are five combinations that will leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth.

1. Dirty data and personalization: Let’s be clear: This combination simply doesn’t work. Dirty data is enough to sour any marketing initiative, and trying to send targeted messages with inaccurate data can result in irrelevant information, customer frustration, and unsubscribes. So, make sure to follow data hygiene practices and ask consumers for their preferences to send the most pertinent communications possible.

2. Data-driven marketing and silos: Just as how a recipe calls for multiple ingredients, true data-driven marketing requires collaboration from multiple touchpoints, such as IT, customer service, sales, and finance. Failing to align can result in issues with the implementation and maintenance of marketing technology, as well as gaps in the customer experience (how many of us can recall repeating a bad experience over and over again because the information wasn’t being transferred to the right departments?). Silos can also result in data getting lost. For example, if a customer calls customer service to complain about a poor in-store experience, wouldn’t it be helpful for marketing to know about it so that it can send an apology email with an extra coupon inside? Likewise, it would be a shame if marketing were to send an email blast promoting a new product only to learn from inventory that it’s out of stock. Plus, collaborating with other departments can help drive inspiration for future initiatives, such as content marketing.

3. Opt-outs and continued communications: Opt-outs are clear signs that customers don’t want to hear from a brand anymore. Marketers should respect their wishes for three reasons: One, it’s the right thing to do; two, failing to do so will only cause customer irritation; and three, removing these customers from their lists can produce several benefits, like increased engagement rates and more time and resources devoted to customers who actually want to interact with the brand.

Installing a preference center can help marketers determine whether customers want to opt out of all brand communications entirely, or if they’d rather receive content through specific channels, such as email versus SMS. Preference centers can also deter customers from opting out altogether. For instance, maybe a customer is annoyed by the number of emails he receives from a brand every week. If that brand has a preference center, then that customer can opt to receive fewer messages while still maintaining some level of contact with the brand.

4. Mobile devices and desktop-centric experiences: It’s almost 2016, and there’s no excuse for marketers to still send emails that only read well on desktops, especially when Movable Ink’s Q3 2015 “US Consumer Device Preference Report” shows that nearly 67% of the 1.32 billion emails analyzed were opened on a mobile device. Likewise, marketers shouldn’t be producing websites that appear scrunched on a mobile device. There are a number of tools marketers can leverage today to make their content suitable for any device. But expecting customers to open marketing communications when and where marketers wants them to will only land brands in hot water.      

5. Content marketing and over-promotional messages. Melissa Rosenthal, VP of creative services for BuzzFeed, once said that content should offer consumers some sort of “gift”, whether it be education, entertainment, or thought leadership. When marketers solely use content to plug their messages, that value is lost, and, as a result, customers don’t have a reason to share the content with their colleagues or peers.  

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