Checklist: Ensuring Customer Orientation in Online Directmarketing | DMA

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Checklist: Ensuring Customer Orientation in Online Directmarketing

Customer orientation can be a clear competitive advantage for a company. Lacking or insufficient customer orientation is actually more and more becoming a significant competitive disadvantage. According to a study by Oracle, European companies record up to 18% turnover loss due to lacking or inconsistent customer orientation. Customer orientation is driven by the competition (differentiation is becoming more and more difficult), the customer (he uses his new power in a transparent market) and last but not least the company itself (growing pressure on success and internal interactions).

In brief, customer orientation in online dialogue stands for: Meeting customer expectations and including the user at all touchpoints. I have compiled a few important pre-requisites for customer-oriented online direct marketing in a short checklist.

1. Know the Customer Preferences

If you want to meet the expectations of users, you will first need to know these expectations. Information on product and marketing preferences, preferred communication channels, willingness to pay, consumer behaviour etc. are needed in order to approach customers with individualised communication. These insights can be generated from customer data using different analysis tools, from simple scoring models to sophisticated data mining procedures.

2. Show Openness to Dialogue

Customers expect, that they are not only treated as silent recipients, but can get in contact with the company, e.g. respond to the communication. The least a company should do to show openness to dialogue, is to process replies to sent emails promptly. An absolute no-go are “no-reply@” addresses, which are often used in combination with notes, such as “This email has been automatically generated. Please do not reply.” and are still employed by otherwise customer-oriented companies.

3. Build a Long-term Relationship

Online direct marketing is not only suited for selective, individual campaigns, but especially for the running of a continuous personal dialogue with highly individualised contents. The goal is not the short-term generation of sales, but the establishment of a long-term customer relationship and the sustainable increase of the customer lifetime value. It is about escorting customers along the entire customer lifecycle. You will find more information on lifecycle email marketing in the article Selectively Approaching Customers Along the Customer Lifecycle.

4. Consistent Communication

The customer should be able to consistently experience customer orientation at all touchpoints, where he gets in contact with the company. This means, e.g.: Communication towards the customer must be consistent within the online dialogue marketing channel, but also in the interplay with other tools of the communication mix, i.e. at all relevant touchpoints. Customers do not differentiate between individual channels. They are not interested in the complexity of processes behind the touchpoints. Instead, they see the same company at every touchpoint and expect consistency. Consistency is especially important in the individualised communication. If you give the impression through individualised contents in one channel, that you have understood the customer and take his needs seriously, this impression can quickly be destroyed, if you communicate significantly different content via another channel.

5. Identify the Customer Across All Channels

In order to be able to communicate consistently via all channels, it is necessary to identify the customer across all channels. In the case of channels, which have access to customer data through which the customer can be identified (e.g. email address), this means, that all these channels must have access to the same data in order to use it consistently. Customer data from all available sources, e.g. from email marketing and online shop, must be merged in one database. However, you must pay attention to legal restrictions. Data merging is only allowed with the customer’s consent. In the case of channels, which do not have access to customer data (e.g. displays), we recommend identification through cookies or fingerprinting technology.

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