Marketing is changing. Customers are interacting with companies and brands across various channels and marketers need a better way to manage these interactions. The power of a computer is in the pocket of customers at almost every moment throughout the day. They can quickly tweet, update status, check email, look for nearby places to eat with just a couple touches. We as marketers have to change the way we approach our customers. They are in more control now than they have ever been in the past and yet we as marketers treat them all the same. We "blast" email. We show everyone the same display ad. We don't always coordinate the messages either. Display might say one thing, while our email says something completely different. Our mobile message might even be different than the previous two. You see where I am going. Our customers do see across social, email, display, mobile, and web as their interactions with one brand. It's time for relationships to come first. Those that are not jumping on the bandwagon are going to be late to the party...that's if they even make it to the party!
Lets break down some key components of relationship. In any relationship, there is a give and take. Providing value and listening are key components of any relationship. In fact, if you ask my wife, listening is probably the most significant component of a successful relationship. Don't tell her, but she is right. Listening is extremely important. If we spend the time to listen, we can better understand the needs of our significant other, or in marketing's sense, our customer. These needs are always changing. What's needed or wanted today is not the same for tomorrow. In digital marketing, listening to the behaviors of our customers can give us great insight to how we might want to communicate to them in the future. I've seen over 5X increase in revenue per message over campaigns using "in-market" data over preferences.
If we as marketers continue to focus on the merchandising and promotional calendar that we are used to, we will miss the subtleties of what the customer needs from us today. We aren't listening, we are talking at them. From a branding and marketing standpoint we used to approach marketing with a campaign perspective (we are going to promote X, tell everyone). But this has changed. We can't continue to speak to the customer in generalities. We have to treat them as if we were in a relationship (listen to their needs and respond accordingly). What the customer actually wants from us takes precedence over what we might want to promote to them. We have to provide them value. We have to show them we are listening. We need to show them we are attuned to their needs and what's in their best interest. Moving to a relationship first has proven valuable (I have plenty of actual client case studies) at driving higher revenue per customer and most importantly higher chance of going out on that second date.
Let's look at a recent study from Adobe about ROI of returning customers. Below is a few charts showing the increase in return captured from repeat customers. If we can build stronger relationships the more likely customers are to return and, in the end, the more money they are going to spend with you versus your competitor.
Here is my calling to marketers. Stop trying to score on the first date. Try and show them why you are the one. It won't be easy. Relationships never are, but lifetime commitment is waiting for you around the corner and better yet, more revenue. Why are you better than the next competitor? How are you going to solve their problems for today, tomorrow? Are you listening?