Do you understand me? | DMA

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Do you understand me?


One thing I have learned is that it is now or never, just start writing—so here I am.

My audience: Retail and utility companies.

We all buy stuff—clothes, toys for the kids, games, electricals, food—the list goes on. We’re also on a path of digital innovation so we don’t have to go to a store anymore; we can buy online through a desktop, laptop, tablet, etc. We can buy through a phone on the way to work or in a pub on a Saturday afternoon.

This has created comforts and issues—more like headaches—and a reason for customers to look elsewhere next time or even now.

I am a customer and (dare I say it) a salesman. I buy stuff and I want to buy stuff, but I want to buy it how I want to buy it and I want the brand to make sure that my hard earned money going towards them is not only rewarded by the item I receive, but having a relevant customer experience.

Now people might start thinking I’m going to now talk about the solution and be all salesy—no. I’m going to talk about why this is a headache for the brand and the customer, and the effects this has on both.

The Customer: If I’ve decided that a brand is the lucky one who’ll get my money for the item I’m buying, they had better do more than just take my money and send me an item. If they don’t, then next time I might not come back.

Let me give you two simple examples: I’m a single guy and I buy men’s clothes. When signing up, the brand has asked me some basic questions other than my delivery address and email including age, sex, marital status, and more. If I complete this and then get follow up emails of the latest summer frock, women’s evening wear, or kids back-to-school offers, then you, Mr. Brand, have wasted your time and mine. If you’re not going to use the data I’ve been willing to provide, then I may as well see what the next brand is like because I’ve got nothing to lose and I can buy what you sell elsewhere.

Next, if I’ve gone on a website, looked at an item, put it in my basket, but then decided to abandon the purchase for whatever reason, I might have gone into the store later to see it in person and buy it. The last thing I want is an abandoned cart reminder email trying to get me to buy the item I’ve already bought (just through a different channel). In another day or so, I might get a discount email giving me 10% off if I buy today or some other offer of that nature; that, as a customer, could get me to complain, probably calling the call centre and either telling them to give me my 10% off retroactively or take me off your mailing list—both instances that a brand would prefer to avoid.

The Brand: You have multiple stores, a website, maybe an app and a loyalty scheme, and can be accessed through desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobiles, all of which can actually be channels which are siloed. The brick and mortar store was there first, but as the Internet and eCommerce came along, you needed a vendor to provide that. Then mobile commerce happened, and maybe you needed a different vendor for that, too. But wait… you also have email and direct mailing to your customers, which could also be through different vendors… and what about SMS and push app notifications in store? That could well be yet another siloed channel. Then you have the realms of Loyalty schemes.

Can you see the spider web of data and the marketer’s nightmare that’s been created? Right now I’m glad I’m a salesman and not a marketer trying to deal with that headache!

If a brands marketing is wrong, if your strategy is “spray and pray,” then you will lose customers. This is a hard but very true fact and this is your headache. If you annoy a customer so they unsubscribe or their spending with you goes down, it’s a hard task to get them back again. With Brexit looming here in the UK and the apparent shortfall in retail trading for the first quarter of the year being at an all-time low, can brands afford not to adapt?

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