Let customers control how/what/when when they hear from you


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One of the most annoying aspects of the customer experience does not have to do with the shopping experience but with the communication experience.    A constant refrain we hear from customers across the board (whether in B2B or B2C situations) is that they get too many calls or emails but often do not hear when there is relevant news that they are truly interested in.  On the other hand, a surprising (and dismaying) number of marketers still measure their productivity by the sheer volume of outbound communications (email, direct mail, calls, touches, etc.) rather than by the quality or even the relevance. 

A recent Forrester study found that although 80% of marketers claimed that customer preference was a significant factor in their communications, only a third asked their customers for their preferred communication channels as well as content.   A measly 12% asked their customers for their preferred frequency of email communications and only 8% asked for preferred frequency abut direct mail.     To top that off, only half of the marketers even took those preferences into account when deciding how to communicate.     No wonder prospects and even customers ignore marketing communications most of the time.   A recent editorial in Chief Marketer was very eloquent on this topic and made a number of good point about how to (and how not to) build email lists. 

Most marketers can and should do better than that.    Sophisticated preference centers let customers modulate both the frequency and type of content they receive from different channels.   In addition to setting up preference centers it is also critical to set up processes to ensure that those preferences are respected.   internal processes to ensure that those preferences are being respected often face internal organizational barriers, e.g. the folks who send email may be different from the telemarketing or the direct mail folks.   Often, different product groups within a company may have different schedules and processes for communicating, so it becomes difficult to adhere to a limit set by the customer.   

Recently, over the holidays, as I was making decisions about year end giving, I tried to forestall the inevitable deluge of direct mail from charitable organizations that follows a donation (giving rarely goes unpunished by fund raising charities, thanks to antiquated RFM models).    I did this by going to the charities' websites to see what options they offered for me to choose how I heard from them, what I heard about and how often.   I prefer to hear from them just once-  a end of the year reminder – through one channel – email- that makes it easy for me to give.    Very few actually had that ability.  The ones that did, that also happened to be doing good work pursuing worthwhile causes I believe in,  got my money.      So the solution to getting the attention of your prospects and customers is simple – make it easy for them to tell you .  Once they have done so, listen.  Your outbound volumes may go down, but your responses will probably be a lot higher.  And isn't that what marketing is about?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Naras Eechambadi, Ph.D
Dr. Naras Eechambadi is the founder and CEO of Quaero, a world-class data management and analytics platform empowering enterprises to integrate, discover and democratize their customer data. He is a life-long technologist and entrepreneur with over three decades in the software products and services industry. He has been awarded numerous distinctions as both a marketing executive and entrepreneur. Naras is also the author of a critically acclaimed book, High Performance Marketing: Bringing Method to the Madness of Marketing.


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