Marketers are taking a pragmatic view of the recession due to customer anxiety, reduced spending, slow complex selling cycles and more. However, research shows that online marketing is effective, so marketers increasingly need to find new ways to optimize their online and offline activities.
What's crucial is pinpointing the individual customer so precisely that they feel they're being offered a service rather than a sell. With budgets under pressure, the range of activities will be limited, so a much greater focus will be placed on retention and development of existing customers. High-value customers must be singled out, along with those with the greatest potential for upselling. Such one-to-one marketing has traditionally been difficult to achieve -- segmentation can be expensive and last year's data is less valuable if a significant percentage of database contacts has changed.
The good news is that marketing technology has advanced to make one-to-one marketing real, without necessitating more time and costs for new research. Four key areas can be addressed by these technological advances and innovative marketers may find among them ways in which they can turbo-charge their existing resources.
Targeting is critical, as it's essential to identify, distinguish and reach customers. Rather than re-populating databases, software can help build a customer picture by drawing on data in various formats and from different locations and channels. Integration with data mining tools makes it possible to perform complex customer analysis, segmentation, and profiling, while detailed browsing behavior gives a view of customer needs and preferences.
Messaging captivates a customer's attention. Irrelevant messages won't garner a second glance. With the right technology, you can customize a message's text, graphics, et al., at an individual level. Personalization is taken to new heights when thousands of different offers are based on customer attributes and business rules.
Timing is everything. It's possible to pinpoint more than ever the right moment to communicate to customers. Through analyzing customer behavior and events, marketers can detect when customers are likely to be most receptive to offers, or when they're at risk of leaving. Not only can technology monitor risk points, but it can be used to analyze unusual patterns in customer behavior.
As such, marketers have valid reasons to contact customers, be it with opportunities to provide advice or new offers, or to prevent customer loss. By signaling when a customer is most likely to respond to a communication, technology can increase cross-sell opportunities and improve customer satisfaction.
4. Personalized messages
Delivering personalized messages whenever customers connect with a company is powerful. If customers feel that the contact with your organization is not just a one-way process, their receptiveness will increase greatly. Today's interactive marketing technology allows marketers to bring together all forms of marketing communications from scheduled campaigns, event-driven programs, and real-time conversations with customers across multiple channels -- from electronic and print to face-to-face and telephone.
A coordinated approach enables marketers to reach individual customers at the right time with the best offer on their preferred channel. An integrated approach not only builds loyalty, but brings immediate benefits in terms of response rate and ROI.
Success in 2009 and beyond is about making the best use of limited resources. While it's widely accepted that companies should market harder in a recession to be better placed for the economic recovery, not all have the means or conviction to follow this through in the form of increased marketing budgets.
Marketers who can truly get to know their customers will find that the framework they develop will serve two purposes: to maintain and develop the existing customer base now; and grow it when the economic climate becomes rosier.