Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Why less may be more for effective digital marketing engagement

By Danielle Auerbach, Regional Vice President at Wunderkind

Less can very often be more, especially when it comes to communicating in an effective, appropriate way. Indeed, sometimes saying nothing at all can have a real impact.

In the context of personalisation, as companies look to engage more deeply, effective communications depend not just on quality content but on relevance, time of publication and accurate targeting. What is often overlooked, though, is the value of ensuring messaging doesn’t end up in front of the wrong people, especially if the message is being sent directly via email or text.

Personalisation is about giving the customer content they will value, and sometimes this means leaving them out of a particular email or text campaign.

Many businesses — particularly retailers — have started to adapt their marketing approach to incorporate this idea. For instance, in the lead up to the recent Father’s Days or Mother’s Days, you may have noticed emails or texts saying, ‘If you’d prefer not to hear about Father’s Day / Mother’s Day, let us know’.

These messages help companies to create a detailed understanding of their customers, enabling them to craft personalised customer experiences. Not only that, but such messages are reassuring, letting customers know that the brands they love are determined to tailor content to align with their needs, even if it means one less person to target with marketing.

There are a host of reasons why someone would prefer not to hear about a particular time of year or would, if possible, choose to completely ignore a certain event, and brands have to be mindful of this.

Bloom & Wild, the online florist, has championed this approach to communicating through its ‘Thoughtful Marketing Movement’ initiative, which it has encouraged other retailers to adopt. The campaign is all about ensuring customers are given the opportunity to opt-out of any marketing around sensitive occasions, and then tailoring future messaging accordingly.

Checking up on someone’s preferences around a particular occasion only needs a simple text or email, but it could end up making a world of difference.

Personalising the customer journey

There’s huge value associated with using personalisation to appeal to customers, and various pieces of research have revealed this to be true. An Epsilon study, for example, found that 80% of customers are more likely to buy from a brand that offers personalised experiences, while Statista found that 90% of customers consider brand messages that aren’t personally relevant to be ‘annoying’.

Personalisation is all about giving the customer 1:1 experiences and communications they’ll appreciate and value, and this approach can be a powerful driver of sales. But if brands want to have deeper, more meaningful relationships with their customers, personalisation needs to go beyond purely conversion-centric initiatives. 

Research suggests 66% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations, so establishing more rounded, comprehensive customer profiles is a must if brands want to nurture long-lasting customer relationships and inspire loyalty and advocacy.

Building one-to-one relationships

So, how should brands go about building genuine one-to-one relationships with their customers? 

The starting point – as it so often tends to be with marketing – is data. By harnessing buying and browsing data related to each customer, brands can build up a picture of every individual customer, and can figure out what they like, what they don’t, and everything in between. 

Once that’s done, it’s time to get more immersed. What content do they tend to enjoy? How and when do they consume it? What do they react to, and what do they ignore? The more tailored and personalised the comms, the stronger the engagement and relationship will become.

Retailers report the benefits of focusing on delivering personalised, effective communications to their customers. Clarks, the footwear giant, being one. Marcus Oughton, Clarks’ Head of Ecommerce for UK, RoI and EMEA, explains, “It [first-party data] has really enabled us to have a more segmented approach to how we implement email. Rather than relying on sending emails based on product or gender preference segmentation, we are able to personalise the message

“It’s a big thing for consumers to give up their data and then allow us to use that to tailor their communications. Message relevancy is the most important thing, in my mind – and it needs to be the core of everything that we do. You drive loyalty and repeat purchasing by improving personalisation and by improving the relevancy of communications.”

All of which links back to the idea that sometimes sending a message to someone won’t benefit the customer, and if that’s the case, it certainly won’t benefit the brand. Firing out content that doesn’t align to a customer’s disposition is the antithesis of personalisation, and it’s only liable to damage relationships that have taken time and effort to develop.