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Keeping Communications Current

13th Jul 2017
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Today marketers increasingly use personalisation to improve the relevancy of communications.

But despite its success, personalisation raises plenty of challenges of its own - not least in terms of keeping up with customers online.

I recently enjoyed a holiday in France, staying in a fantastic apartment booked through Air BnB. When I returned, I was inundated with ads featuring the apartment that I booked.

Whilst I enjoyed my trip, I’d be unlikely to rebook so quickly.

You could say that this was just a simple mistake by one brand, causing no real harm aside from some wasted budget. However these errors seem to be happening all too often.  Many marketers also believe they contribute to wider user trust issues and banner fatigue.

Take booking.com - when you show interest in a particular destination, you are repeatedly updated on local hotel offers, irrespective of whether you’d travel there again.

At least 3 years ago, I stayed in a hotel close to Luton airport before an early morning flight. Luton is not my local airport and I haven’t flown from there since.

Despite this, I regularly receive emails advising me of the best deals in Luton, normally accompanied by a fetching picture of the Luton skyline.

Now there’s nothing wrong with Luton, but as you can imagine these emails aren’t really inspiring me to travel. The ones I do bother to open go straight in the rubbish bin. I expect most people would probably unsubscribe; my interest as a marketer is the only thing that stops me.

Companies in all industries can fall down when it comes to keeping up. The same thing frequently happens across retail  - many of us will purchase an item of clothing or footwear and be repeatedly served banners advertising the exact product; in the colour and size we have ordered.

Today’s customer expects a seamless experience online – and this is a clear example that processes are not joined up. They only serve to frustrate and repel customers, contributing to a negative perception of online marketing.

So how can we prevent this from happening?

CRM expert Warren Butler believes that cases like these are a strong signal that you’re not making the most of your CRM system and highlights the importance of integrating marketing that updates CRM with recipient actions.

At a basic level this allows you to track open and click data, and apply opt-out requests. However, the advanced features are where it really starts to get interesting.

In his recent ‘post”, Butler advocates the benefits of “using CRM data to drive dynamic content that increases recipient engagement, or using CRM events such as field changes to trigger automated campaigns that send a sequence of emails which are contextual to the event or action.”

In the case of a product purchase, this could be used to trigger an email or advertising featuring complementary products to encourage repeat purchases.

But what about inactive or lapsed customers?

I have not clicked on one email featuring Luton hotels. So in my case, inaction itself could be set as the trigger.

Rather than repeatedly serving me the same content in the hope that one day I’ll respond, I could be segmented as a non-responder. I could then be served new content or offers to encourage me to re-engage.

Most advertising platforms also offer you ways to exclude existing customers from a campaign. So, as marketers we have no excuse to send out out-dated messages.

A robust CRM is a good start; however if the campaign is not properly segmented or implemented, out-dated communications are always going to be a problem. Regular evaluation is also essential to ensure that each campaign is achieving what you hope.

When it comes to improving communications through CRM, the benefits are clear. Thorough evaluation leads to better data quality and more precisely targeted campaigns. This is when we see the true value of personalisation  - in communications that are personal, relevant and current.

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