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Deepak Advani, General Manager, IBM Commerce

Deepak Advani, General Manager, IBM Commerce

By Deepak Advani

The marketing experiences that we receive, whether via email, snail mail or the phone, say a lot about us.

For example, by taking one look at the mail I receive each day, you will quickly learn a few things. First, I have personal interests and I’ve developed strong relationships with brands based on these interests.

They know who I am, things I may be interested in, they offer me deals and more. I have become a brand advocate based largely on their commitment to personalizing campaigns to me rather than throwing out messages and waiting to see what sticks.

Unfortunately, these experiences are just one example of the campaigns I receive most days. Now let’s go back to my email example. In taking another glance you will find a far greater number of messages from recognizable brands that clearly do not know me. It’s called spam of course.

Most people have accepted spam for what it is but in the bid data age it’s no longer acceptable for marketers with access to an array of new innovations to blast out generic messages to their current and potential customers.

For example, I continually receive mail offers from a local car dealer looking to interest me in buying a new car.  I like cars, but I just bought one two months ago and have two years left on the lease for my second car. That is a clear missed effort on their part. Repeating these campaigns to me is an annoyance, at best, and a frustrating intrusion if it continues.

It also clearly shows that this dealer doesn’t know me and, what’s worst, hasn’t tried. Consider if the dealer had reached out to check on my new purchase, asked if I had any questions and reminded me that I will need an oil change in the next couple of months. They could even have included a coupon for the oil change. That’s how you make me a loyal customer.

Marketing today comes with great expectations and it’s no longer acceptable to operate with blinders on. Marketers have in their possession, a vast library of data as well as an array of new innovations which together can allow them to create tailored messages to current and potential customers.

It’s a relationship now where we the consumer can choose to interact with brands that take the time to meet our unique needs. For those who don’t we move on. For those that do, we may be willing to share even more details about ourselves with the expectation that the level of service we get in return is met.

For example, I am a coffee drinker like many and frequently make trips to Starbucks. It’s easy, the coffee is good and they have stores everywhere I go, and I travel A LOT. Now I am willing to opt into a program that allows them to track my location through their mobile app if it means that when I step into the store I am recognized, presented with coupons, etc…

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Unfortunately most of us don’t get nearly as many of these experiences as we would like. IBM released a study today with Econsultancy that really paints a picture of where we are today. According to the research 4 out of every 5 consumers say brands don’t know them as an individual. At a time when customer loyalty is tenuous at best, this figure should have brands hitting the panic button.

Over reaction? You decide. Researchers asked consumers if they had changed service providers in the last 12 months, focusing specifically on several service areas known to be inherently sticky, including banking, mobile, internet and satellite/cable. Nearly 50 percent did just that with 30 percent doing so because they said their provider failed them. Failed them how? 51 percent cited customer experience as the number one factor.

Experience matters, far more than most can imagine, and marketers have a chance to lead customers on a journey of relevancy where they are at the center of it all. The issue is that many are not going down this path and that’s why marketers need to take notice. These numbers illustrate clearly how much the experience matters. In fact, far more than most imagine.

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