Joe Stanhope of Forrester Research recently wrote a great article on why the technology used to support the marketing function needs to evolve. Read it here. However, in my honest opinion, it really didn’t go far enough. It is not just the technology that needs to change but it is the fundamentals of how marketing is conducted today that really needs to be transformed at its core.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
The role of marketing has always been to connect a company and brand with its audience in a way that establishes brand affinity. By achieving this, companies raise the likelihood that the individual will buy into their proposition. However, the way to achieving this has always been highly company-centric, where communication and engagement is sought based on the needs and goals of the organisation, rather than that of the consumer. The view being that if we offer something of interest and it is relevant, then consumers will be thankful for the company interrupting their lives with an advertisement or communication.
Move forward to the modern day and this approach is clearly starting to fail. We all know that consumer expectation is rising; but coupled with the following trends it is clear that current marketing strategy is reaching breaking point:
• Media fragmentation — so many different options for individuals to consume media and entertainment
• Channel proliferation — a growing number of channels (offline, online and social) through which to communicate
• Multiple devices — with individuals communicating through PCs, mobile phones and tablets
• Advertising saturation — the average US citizen exposed to over 3000 messages daily
• Explosion in the number of messages sent and received — with the average person receiving over 180 emails per day
• A diminishing, or perhaps more demanding, attention span
• Increased mental opt-out as an individual’s attention is not gained and therefore messages fail to be memory encoded, i.e. become memorable
Setting aside advertising, which is a blog (or several) blogs in itself, let’s take a look at direct consumer engagement when you have a known customer.
Very simply this form of marketing is focused on the “contact record”. That’s it. This is the starting point and the premise is that the better we can understand the individual the better able we are to send them our most relevant offer.
Here’s the scenario: We have a contact record. We ask the individual for some additional first party data. We add in some behavioural data, e.g. a previous purchase. We can add big data, from social feeds. We can also apply some unstructured data, e.g. from a call centre. We can even, in some cases, find some contextual data. In fact, we can add and apply any data we can capture. Then with all our AI and predictive analytics we can identify the propensity for each consumer to buy into our next proposition. From here we then profile each and every consumer. We can create segments, micro segments, even nano segments. Much is talked of 1:1 marketing. We will customise the offer for the specific individual. We can even identify the most likely time that they will respond. We then push out the communication and offers on our terms, knowing that we have optimised the likelihood of a response and made the offer as relevant as possible to the individual who will be receiving our communication. That’s it, the smartest marketing we can do.
So how well is this working? Well there are tons of stats out there. Here’s some data from Mailchimp. In summary, they generally find open rates to email of around 25% and a click through rate of just 2–3%. So, 97% of individuals are just not interested, and this is the smartest marketing we can do. Even with the best AI and self-learning programmes in the world how much better do we think we can do.
In all honesty, this is the equivalent of a lemming standing on the edge of a cliff. If this is the best you can do, there really is nowhere else to go but down, with lower and lower click through rates being achieved, as more and more communications are sent.
So, what should modern marketing really look like? The way to approach this is to put yourself in the shoes of your prospective and current customers and to identify what you really believe their needs, expectations and aspirations are, both now but more importantly in the future. Here are some thoughts:
- Consumers don’t want to be disrupted, based on company goals
- Consumers desire to be able to choose when they engage, and in what form they wish to engage (device / channel). They are weary and over-saturated with direct engagement
- Consumers want offers “In the Moment” when it makes sense to them, not the brand
- Consumers want to receive compelling and rewarding experiences, it is not about what you offer but more about how you offer it
- Consumers want to be able to define how their engagement unfolds — they want control. They want to define their own journey
- Consumers want to be rewarded for their engagement, there has to be mutual value in the exchange
- Consumers will engage and respond to brands when the experience is distinctive, fun and valuable
- Consumers want a continuous relationship on their terms
To deliver against these expectations, modern marketing must place Experience Design at the core, both in terms of advertising as well as direct communication. So, what is experience design? Very simply, it is developing an experience that the consumer will value, but where value is not constrained by a specific offer. Consumers value experiences that are interesting, informative, fun, artistic, shareable, curious, even humorous as well as providing a good deal or a chance to win.
If these experiences are valuable, then you don’t have to push them out as communications. All you need to do is to make them available, to invite individuals to engage, to participate, to respond. These invitations can be provided in many ways, both when the consumer is known and also when they are unknown. You also don’t have to limit who you are making the experience available to. This can be achieved in so many ways; QR codes, through Shazam, via packaging, display adds, via notifications etc.
There are two key additional brand benefits:
- When an individual responds to an invitation, you are “In the Moment”. You have contextual data like time of day, location, weather etc. so you can make each engagement highly relevant, compelling, fun and most importantly as valuable as it can be. You can also in real-time pull through CRM data, when they are known, to make it truly smart.
- You are also mass marketing. There is no reason to limit your invitation to a specific segment. You can position yourself to the entire category. When 50% of your business may come from casual or very infrequent purchases, you can influence these consumers as well. Increased penetration and real growth are more than possible, they are highly likely.
This is the future of marketing and it is called “Invitational Marketing”
“Invitational Marketing is making available an experience that is seen as being valuable by the individual and is so compelling that they want to engage.” David Newberry
Invitational marketing is based on three fundamental principles;
- Make available Interactive Journeys that encourage your consumers to engage in a two-way conversation that they control, this is continuous, highly distinctive and builds emotional connection.
- Provide Rewarding Experiences that are seen as being highly valuable in the eyes of the consumer, whether it be fun, informative, offer-related, interesting or even humorous.
- Invite and motivate the consumer to engage In the Moment, when they want to, in the way they want to.
“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Apple Think Different 1997 campaign
Invitational Marketing is the future but for those marketing leaders and pioneers of today, it is available now.
If you would like more information on how 3radical can transform your audience engagement, both for employees as well as consumers, please feel free to contact David at email@example.com