Lent is upon us and regardless of religious affiliation, it’s tradition to give something up – something that perhaps we’ve overused, or even abused in the past.
In this spirit, I thought about what I should give up for the next 40 days and decided on…cheese. While saying ‘no’ to this food will be challenging enough, this personal mission made me think about how I could possibly apply this professionally. Is there something I THINK is a good thing, maybe because of the way I've always done it, while in fact, giving it up can actually lead to a positive outcome?
Of course, just like giving up sharp-aged cheddar or pecorino, abstaining from anything is tough mostly because the things we give up have often come to be an inseparable part of our reality. But just like going 40 days without raspberry-glazed herbed goat cheese, ridding our program of ineffective marketing practices can prove transformative for the health of our marketing and its growth.
Moving past cheese metaphors, below are 5 things us marketers are often guilty of doing and, in the spirit of Lent, can give up for the next 40 days and even possibly carry them over to…forever:
1) Collecting every possible data point about your audience
I cannot emphasize the importance of data in shaping a successful communication strategy. But much like cheese consumption, it is about quality, not quantity. The type of metrics you collect should be applicable to your industry and business. If you’re a B2B company selling software, chances are that you don’t need to know your subscribers’ marital status or household count. Focus on collecting the data that can positively impact the way you communicate with your subscribers – content preference, stage in the sales cycle, type of offer leading to highest conversion, etc.
2) Assuming your audience would want the type of marketing you want
It took the hard way for me to realize that thinking of myself as the norm for my audience is one of the biggest mistakes a marketer can make. Here is where testing shines – it can teach marketers a huge lesson about how different all of us are as consumers, even if we’re interested in the same thing. Often, when creative, subject lines, or offer types are tested, all marketers are left with is a baffled “I can’t believe THIS is the option my audience went for.”
There is such an emphasis on multi-channel marketing but there is often a degree of ambiguity attached to the concept. According to a recent Yes Lifecycle Marketing study, over half of marketers use 6+ channels to interact with customers and 20% use more than 10. Talk about variety! And ‘variety’ is key here – many marketers use all these different channels to send the same message without considering the unique characteristics of each channel and its users. Sure, your email campaigns, social media updates, direct mail pieces, retargeting ads, and paid search ads are very important in creating brand awareness and keeping your products top-of-mind. But be mindful of the message that works best for your audience in each channel you use.
4) Being all-inclusive
This one sounds counterintuitive but hear me out. You’re a sophisticated marketer and run a lot of programs in order to ensure multiple subscriber touches. You have campaigns for Purchase Anniversary, Birthdays, Weekly Offers, Buyer Reactivation, Product Reviews, Loyalty Points, and many more. First off, kudos on the great variety of standard and triggered email campaigns. They are truly helpful in achieving your brand’s business objectives, but not when a subscriber is eligible to receive ALL of them. When you have such a multi-faceted mailing program, you need a proper program hierarchy to ensure subscribers will not be overwhelmed by your communications. For instance, if it’s their birthday on the day you typically deploy your Weekly Offer or Loyalty Summary (or God forbid, both!), create rules to prioritize which campaign will take precedence based on past performance.
This may be the only faulty marketing practice I am not guilty of…YET. While the success of a marketing program is most often measured in the amount of revenue it brings, the most successful marketing programs are the ones that gradually build the relationship with the customer to bring them to the decision to buy. If you convince me that I want your product because it is “50% Off”, this offer may sell me the first time, maybe even the 2nd. But eventually, in order to convert me into a repeat purchaser (and this is our end goal for each subscriber, right?), I need to understand the value of your product and brand. Marketing through storytelling always brings me back for more. Perhaps your subscribers feel the same way.
What other practices do you think marketers should give up for the next 40 days (and beyond)? Let us know by tweeting at @Yesmail or using the hashtag #marketinglent. Good luck fasting!