Understanding ‘who’ to target and ‘when’ to engage with them (see my previous posts) becomes a moot point unless you’re able to determine ‘how’ to communicate with customers in a way that will drive a positive response. This is where a lot of mobile marketers water down the idea of ‘personalization’ – cycling through preconceived offers versus really determining what’s best for a specific customer.
THE MYTH: Higher value offers drive better results.
“If I offer you more for less, you’ll accept and become a devoted customer.”
It’s an easy assumption to make, regardless of what product or service you’re marketing. But consumers have figured out the ins and outs of dangling carrots, and marketers are realizing that long-term success requires more than offering ‘the most’ or ‘the greatest’.
Offers based on value alone tend to fall into a few categories:
“Too good to be true”: We’ve all had the pleasure of answering that dreaded phone call – the one that inevitably comes right at dinner time with someone offering us a free trip to an exotic resort. Most hang up the phone before the offer is fully revealed, but for those who choose to wait it out, that ‘too good to be true’ offer is eventually followed up with a long list of blackout dates, less than appealing air travel, and a forceful requirement to ‘act now’ or lose the opportunity.
“It’s great and I’ll wait": I can’t say that I’m much of a couponer, but it’s amazing to see how shoppers have figured out the constantly rotating catalogs of discounts issued by their local stores. And what’s even more amazing is how they’ve altered their shopping behaviors to ensure they always receive the best deal. Back in the day, a marketing offer was a ‘treat’ – something that was rare enough to catch someone’s attention and more importantly, change someone’s behaviors. In today’s age of so many event or calendar triggered offers, consumers assume that an offer will arrive – with some predicting the timing down to the hour or day – and therefore, do not act until it arrives.
“Missed the mark": I was shocked a few months back when my wife received a pamphlet of coupons and an educational booklet highlighting a ‘how-to’ guide for baby gear. I quickly asked if there was something she needed to fill me in on – given the fact that our two children are half grown and I was pretty sure we didn’t have plans for more. Looks like someone “missed the mark” she said, as she headed to the door to take it to our more than gracious, seven-month pregnant neighbor. There must have been over $100 worth of coupons – a great value for someone, but not for us.
THE REALITY: Offers with the right value drive better results.
Back to my earlier comment about a marketing offer being a ‘treat’ – the beauty of the mobile channel is its ability to help marketers engage with customers at an individual level. This takes customer engagement to an entirely new level – marketing can finally be personalized, relevant, and most importantly, valuable to your customers. And that’s the key to mobile marketing success – defining what’s valuable for each customer and just as important, what’s valuable for your business.
It all goes back to understanding your customers’ behaviors – what services they use, how they act, who they’re connected to, what their buying preferences are, etc. – and aligning offers to your higher order marketing objective. For example, if the goal is to increase usage consumption, the development of personalized marketing treatments should stem from the insight you have on each individual’s usage (past, current, and predicted consumption), and how this compares to how you would like them to use your service.
A ‘marketing treatment’ doesn’t always contain an offer – sometimes a simple reminder or an educational FYI is all it takes for someone to act. In fact, although one may assume that a higher dollar discount will result in a more positive response, it can actually do quite the opposite by decreasing the brands’ perceived value – and cannibalizing your potential revenue.
WHY IT MATTERS: Successful marketing is all about building long-term, profitable relationships – not achieving incremental gains with one-hit wonders.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day tracking of click-throughs and opt-ins but those aren’t the KPIs that truly matter. Revenues, retention rates, brand loyalty – these should be the driving forces behind each and every offer delivered. Marketing is not about driving a single response, but having a long-lasting, sustainable positive impact on customer behavior.
So the real challenge is altering – and most importantly, scaling – your marketing approach to deliver the right offers to each customer over time. Using a pre-determined set of marketing treatments doesn’t cut it when the behavioral contexts of your mobile customers are continually changing, and in turn, so are their definitions of what’s valuable. So what’s needed? Marketing capabilities that offer the ultimate flexibility – allowing you to create and test an infinite number of marketing treatments to then determine what’s best for whom.
Luckily for marketers, marketing technologies rich with automation and machine learning are coming to the rescue and doing a lot of the thinking behind the scenes. Think of it like a baker and his recipes. You provide all of the ingredients – the data, the offers, the contexts, the messaging, the call to action, etc. – and he determines what works best. Voila!