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By 22 September 2020 | Categories: Thought Leadership

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By James Bayhack, CM.com sub-Saharan Africa Director

We live in an age of digital convenience. This means that when we need something, it's often only a click away. But the same applies when we don’t want something! If you’re being spammed with marketing communications from that one store you reluctantly handed your email address to, it's just as easy to click on the unsubscribe button and sever communication with the brand. Annoying ads that get in the way of your internet browsing can also be instantly eliminated by using an ad blocker.

So, with all the reasons out there not to accept communication and avoid ads, how can companies effectively market goods and services to a potential customer in a way that will be welcomed instead of spurned?

Consider the customer experience

As more consumers choose to control how they interact with brands and how much – and tend to distance themselves from those that are considered intrusive or bothersome – companies need to develop advertising campaigns that consistently build brand awareness without being annoying. The more low-profile, the more relevant; the more personalised, the better.

Consider the following scenario. You’re walking through the mall and pass a pop-up store. The owner tries to call you over, but you’re not interested in the product and politely say no. The owner proceeds to shout after you and tries to persuade you to come in. Eventually, you find yourself running away from the business and making a mental note to avoid that part of the mall forever.

This is the real-life equivalent of what many online adverts do. Remarketing banners that follow you around the internet, even though you’ve probably already deemed the product unfit, or you've already purchased it. While mailers and pop up ads are aimed at being informative – and in many cases they are – if there are too many, or if they are irrelevant, they can be off-putting to consumers.

Sometimes, being bombarded by irrelevant advertising actually results in consumers having negative thoughts about a product or service. They may think, why is this brand so adamant about using such aggressive marketing strategies? Is the business in trouble, and if so, is it because they have an inferior product? This, of course, can have the opposite effect as well. Some consumers respond well to more aggressive campaigns and the results show. Understanding your audience will assist you in determining whether or not an aggressive approach will work for your target market.

When it comes to marketing, less is more. Prioritising high-quality advertising and making sure that it reaches the right consumer at the right time is much more valuable than a high quantity of advertising that has just as much chance of creating a negative customer experience as it does of attracting new customers.

How to understand and respond to consumer needs

A personalised approach to advertising is a lot more effective than a blanket approach, with 71% of consumers preferring personalised ads and 44% willing to actually hand over personal information in order to get more tailored, relevant ads.

For businesses that want to better understand their customers’ wants and needs, including how much they want to interact with brands and o‌n what channels, a system that integrates and synthesises customer data from as many platforms as possible is invaluable. This will allow brands to have a single view of their customers, helping them to build segments based on variables like past behaviour, purchases, demographics and more.

Truly personalised marketing communications can then be designed around customer needs. No more wasting resources on inappropriately timed emails or trying to reach clients on a certain channel when they haven't used it in six years. Even better, a good customer data platform will allow you to analyse data from your marketing efforts, so you can see which segments respond best to which content. With these levels of personalisation and optimisation, it’s no wonder that segmentation can improve your open rates. When marketing is personalised, it’s automatically less obtrusive because it feels more relevant to the recipient.

In South Africa, Checkers provides an example of what companies can do when they strive to offer consumers relevant, personalised messages at the right time. The grocery giant has started to offer personalised deals to customers based on their past purchasing behaviour. These deals are communicated via WhatsApp using a chatbot, so customers can expect savings on products they actually want to buy. Looking further ashore, EasyJet used personalised data to create an email campaign based on customers’ travel history, encouraging users to reminisce and plan their next trip. This resulted in an open rate and click through rate that were 100% and 25% higher, respectively.

As customers continue to generate more and more data every day, there’s no reason for brands to waste resources serving audiences irrelevant marketing material. Businesses can now access technology that will help them collate and analyse consumer data to create personalised, unobtrusive, relevant marketing campaigns that will achieve better results. This is good news for customers and companies – it means fewer irrelevant ads for the former and a better bottom line for the latter.

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