Marketers Are Out of This World

They say men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Turns out marketers come from another planet, as well. And although these specimens come in peace, their perceptions of interactive marketing may seem a little out of this world to the average consumer.

According to ExactTarget’s Marketers From Mars study, a report that compares marketers’ views to those of consumers, marketers are becoming a “focus group of one.” Consider the following: While 61% of surveyed marketers follow at least one brand or company on Twitter, only 12% of consumers do the same. Likewise, while 86% of marketers have liked a brand on Facebook, only 58% of consumers admit to becoming a brand’s Facebook fan. However, both marketers and consumers seem to see eye to eye when it comes to email, as 98% of marketers and 93% of consumers say they receive at least one permission-based email per day, according to the study.

Jeffrey Rohrs, ExactTarget’s VP of marketing research and education, partially attributes this marketer-consumer disconnect to marketers’ wanderlust, always searching to discover “the next big thing” in terms of marketing channels or technology. However, Rohrs says that marketers’ funds for experimental marketing programs should only comprise a small portion of their overall budget and that marketers should depend on channels that resonate with consumers and have a proven ROI.

“We’re risk takers now. We’re not normal. We’re a little bit crazy. We have to explore and play with these channels not knowing if they’re going to have a ton of relevance for our brand,” Rohrs says.

If marketers are the explorers,  then smartphone users are the “settlers” and the leaders in determining how to make new channels relevant to them and their needs Rohrs says. Additionally, smartphone users are much likely to interact with multiple channels, such as social and email, than non-smartphone users—and more likely to make a purchase.  For example, according to ExactTarget’s study, 41% of marketers claim to have made a purchase as a direct result of Facebook marketing, followed by 31% of smartphone consumers, and 12% non-smartphone users.

However, feature-phone users shouldn’t be cast out into a black hole and ignored. While 90% of marketers own a smartphone, only 51% of consumers do, according to the study. Hence, Rohrs recommends sending messages that all consumers can enjoy, such as SMS. He also suggests homing in on both smartphone and feature-phone users’ habits, such as feature-phone users partaking in more online activity at home than on the go.   

Email, on the other, doesn’t appear to alienate marketers from consumers.  According to the study, 45% of marketers cite email as the channel they use most to connect with brands they trust, and 49% of non-smartphone consumers and 36% of smartphone consumers say the same. However, marketers and consumers do have some differences when it comes to email. For example, marketers are much more likely to make a purchase after receiving an email (93%) than consumers (49%).

It turns out that marketers are also the more social being of the two specimens. According to the study, 81% of marketers use Facebook as their prime social channel to maintain their social lives compared to 66% of consumers; and 15% of marketers cite Twitter as their main source for connecting with brands online, compared to 3% of consumers. Rohrs adds that marketers are also much more likely to use social as a venting space than the average consumer.

“The normal consumer is hesitant to vent their complaints in a public forum like Twitter. A marketer, and especially an early adopter, will bitch and moan to anybody who will listen,” Rohrs says. “What marketers can understand from this is if [a complaint] hits Twitter, for the most part, it’s a big issue because it’s taken that person to overcome talking to your folks on the phone [and] talking to your manager.”

To ensure message relevancy, Rohrs advises marketers to focus on building their audience, recognizing and overcoming their own biases, targeting both smartphone and nonsmartphone users, and tacking on social and apps where appropriate.

And who knows the customer better than the customer himself? Rohrs advises companies of all sizes to talk directly to consumers, host focus groups, and conduct surveys to determine customer preferences and segment audiences.

“It’s very much understanding where your consumers are, which channels work best with your consumers, how you can get them to amplify, and how you can amplify their messages,” Rohrs says. “That’s where the future is going.”

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