It’s Not You, It’s Me
You’ll have to trust me on this one, I’ve never stalked anyone. Neither in my personal, nor in my business career. I’d like to think that during the various relationships I’ve had, I’ve been able to toe-the-line of being too forward and obsessive and being attentive and engaged. Sometimes it’s difficult to be poised, holding back the desire to check in constantly, over communicate and generally come across as too pushy or needy. The same is true when it comes to marketing.
As marketers today, armed with tools like marketing automation and retargeting, we must act with the same restraint when developing or cultivating customer relationships, as we would our personal ones. It’s easy to get caught up in the technology and roll out a campaign that exploits the data in ways that can be misaligned with where customers and prospects are in the buyer’s journey. Being able to look at your product or service from the customer’s point of view is often difficult from the inside. Approach your lead nurturing as you would a personal relationship. Listen more, ask questions, observe behavior, and don’t make assumptions.
Talking vs Stalking
The tools that we have today are fantastic. We can track the movement of prospects and customers like never before. That’s valuable. Audiences at large are becoming more comfortable with receiving personalized communications, and trends indicate that they are demanding them. But restraint is still important in how you approach the use of retargeting. Why? The creepiness factor.
Going back to the analogy of personal relationships. Imagine you are single and meet one of your friend’s acquaintances, Pat, at an event at a local steakhouse. You have a nice conversation. You part ways. Now imagine the next day at the coffee shop and Pat is there to welcome you. What a coincidence! You exchange pleasantries and depart for work. You run errands at the mall at lunch time and you visit three different stores. At the electronics store Pat shows up again waving wildly at you, then once again at the home goods store, and lastly in the clothing store. At this point you’re creeped out and thinking of pulling a restraining order.
Pat was heavy-handed in retargeting. Personally, I have had handfuls of online retargeting experiences that felt similar to my corny example above. After visiting websites while researching a few topics, I was barraged with retargeting ads on nearly every YouTube video as well as on several syndicated marketing news sites. What made it creepy is that the retargeting was applied in several contexts that made no sense in regards to the media that I was consuming. It was obvious that they were following me. On some level it turned me off. Retargeting is great, but be sure you set some limits. There are ways to control delivery based on frequency, context, and recency.
Nurture vs Natural
Lead nurturing is a benefit of marketing automation platforms. It’s a very effective tool in refining communications to prospects and customers — tailoring messaging streams to where recipients are in the buying cycle or customer journey. To tailor your messages to your various segments you have to know them, by becoming customer centric. By utilizing the tools available you can “listen” through the content your audiences are clicking on in your emails and consuming on your website, to deliver more relevant content in the future.
The cliché is that women like flowers. My wife likes flowers. She appreciates it when I get them for her. But she’s also allergic to almost all of them, except the poinsettia that we just can’t seem to kill off from the holidays. Within a few hours of having a bouquet in the house the sniffling and sneezing starts. The only way I could know this by observing outcomes, actions and reactions over a few months — or, because I’m dense, over a few years. I’ve adjusted accordingly, choosing gifts that don’t produce the need for Benadryl.
Marketers must continually listen and observe. Look for indications that recipients may have moved further or backward in the customer journey. Are they no longer opening emails? Has the frequency of their website visits increased or decreased? Do you have a plan on how to route these audiences into more appropriate communication streams? Have you tested your messaging and creative consistently to know if that makes an impact on engagement? Perhaps you can’t develop content for each micro-segment of your audience, but if you know why people buy from and engage with you, you can develop content around your three to five key differentiating features. Don’t let your customers become allergic to your communications.
Enough about me, what do think about me?
Let’s face it, as human we all want to feel that we are being listened to. Today’s burgeoning array of tools allow you to track, follow, compile information, and ultimately customize communications for our prospects and customers. But you must be mindful that how you do that should be consistent with your organization’s voice and with where audience members are in their customer journey. You need to listen, observe, and respond to your customers’ behaviors and requests in appropriate ways – ways that show you have heard what they are interested in and what is important to them. Or you may find them hitting you with George Costanza’s famous line, “It’s not you, it’s me.”