How lazy retail marketers are disrespecting the consumer

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How lazy retail marketers are disrespecting the consumer

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Without doubt email is still one of the most effective methods to directly connect with prospects and customers. Emerging from the pre-digital ‘direct marketing’ discipline, the humble email has evolved from basically a promotional and loyalty tactic to being a cornerstone of the ‘engagement marketing’ suite.

However it raises a serious question: has email created the ‘lazy marketer’ who simply builds an email database to ‘blast’ their messages to an unsuspecting consumer?

Given the refinement of data that can be collected from each interaction (online and offline), it is more than assumption that marketers are likely to have a useful understanding of purchase behaviour (what, where, when, price, etc.). For the most part consumers in Australia are still bombarded with a never-ending series of unrelated messages from brands ‘spraying’ a message in the hope that someone will respond.

This is lazy marketing, pure and simple.

Take this recent experience as a Country Road customer. After purchasing from their Trenery-branded store, a customer signed up to their loyalty program on the promise of priority offers and various other benefits. Wow – the reality is totally different!

The number of emails received from both Trenery and Country Road over a one month period was a staggering 33! Almost daily they sent an email offering specials on products this customer will never buy because they don’t match her taste. Country Road is the laziest fashion brand landing in this Inbox.

The purpose of engagement marketing for Country Road is to tailor its emails to the attributes they know about their customer, ask for more information (usually in exchange for something), and only send relevant information and offers based on this known data. When a brand knows a customer’s buying habits and preferences, it has a powerful segmentation tool for them to “best guess” their next purchase and then use that data in the next communication.

Digital-based engagement marketing requires genuine leadership and planning. Gone are the days where an email address alone is the basis for a brand to indiscriminately send marketing messages, and worst of all, sell their customer data to other businesses who will do the same.

At marketingbytes we provide clients with a 100% customer-centric approach to engagement marketing. It has delivered significant benefits for brands wanting to construct a meaningful dialogue with their customers, earn a positive ROI plus achieve real demand management through highly effective data management.

Contact us to discuss how we can apply our approach to CRM to acquire customers for your business.

Further reading:

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Introducing ‘INNW’ (a new marketing acronym)

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I’d like to propose ‘INNW’ as a new acronym* to guide marketers in 2017.

These 4 letters stand for a relatively simple statement – If Not Now, When?

As (almost) everyone in business and marketing knows, the world has changed. A lot. If you’re in the business of selling a product or service, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering how to manage a decreasing marketing budget amongst an increasing array of media options. “Do more with less” seems the mantra nowadays.

As 2016 comes to a close, and in the spirit of new year resolutions, I propose that “If Not Now, When?” be the slogan that inspires your approach to marketing in 2017. Marketing demands bold ideas, innovation and bravery. That means marketers should always be looking to test new strategies and tactics.

So next year (not next decade), see if one or more of these are right for your business.

Get mobile-friendly.

This message has been hammered into everyone for a number of years. Australia’s smartphone penetration is #2 in the world (77% in 2013 as per SMS Global study).  More searches are done on a mobile device than PC and ‘search’ is the most frequently used shopping tool for mobile consumers (according to a Google USA study).

So any business that hasn’t yet thought of a way to embrace a mobile-optimised web presence – or any other mobile-friendly tactic – then it’s definitely time to act! Put at the top of your list. Let me know if you need some help with this.

Accelerate digital-based innovation.

Now is the time to start embracing not only change, but the method of making change happen.  A recent report by Accenture details the benefits that accrue to companies that actively innovate to add value. Their key findings contains one element that successful innovators are doing: “Incorporate digital as part of the customer experience.”

Breakdown your whole go-to-market plan and identify touchpoints that can be strengthened by applying a degree of digitisation. This can be either customer-facing or an internal communications/workflow solution.

Accenture: Rewriting The innovation Playbook

Social selling.

This is a relatively new concept so if you’re unfamiliar with it’s premise: social selling is when salespeople use social media to connect directly with their prospects. There is much more it than simply connecting, as the idea is that salespeople use social media as a means to establish a relationship that  might lead to a future sale.

Social selling is a B2B marketing strategy that mostly occurs online using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Slideshare, Pinterest and YouTube. The premise is that a salesperson publishes content of interest to his/her prospects, who will then follow/like/share that content.  Over time the salesperson and prospect develop closer ties, including meeting in person, that may lead to a sale.

Read more about this strategy in this Forbes article. Better still, ask me for some advice.

Programmatic media buying.

Digital advertising is now dominated by programmatic media buying.  Proponents laud its ability to efficiently display an advertisement to the right audience at the right time and in the most measurable context.  It has been primarily for large advertisers but the scale of programmatic means that even small ones can use the platforms.

This Digiday article looks at 5 key charts to explain the big growth in programmatic. Then allocate some ad budget and give programmatic a go. It’s so highly measureable that you’ll know if it’s working soon enough.

Customer experience improvements.

As Lee Tonitto, CEO of the Australian Marketing Institute says, “A good CMO is chronically obsessed with the customer.” Lee goes on to say in the MediaScope article predictions for 2017, “Organisations must undergo radical shifts in their structures to align themselves with how customers act in a new world obsessed with digital experiences. This starts with the CMO closely collaborating with the CIO, and building from there.”

If you’re going to improve something, you need to know a baseline to grow from. In terms of CX, that requires a forensic examination of the pathway to purchase. And beyond. A great way to achieve this is to conduct a customer journey mapping exercise. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.

Make smarter use of Facebook and Google.

How’s this for a staggering stat: “In the first quarter of 2016, 85 cents of every new dollar spent in online advertising will go to Google or Facebook” (NYT 13 Dec 2016).  These two online brands now dominate the online advertising landscape so much that they must be part of every marketer’s plans for 2017.

Whether it’s Facebook Ads or Google Adwords, use a specialist agency to ensure you are getting the most value from the ad budget spent with them. And if you need help choosing a digital agency – ask me for advice.

Data capture and usage.

If you’re not collecting data about your prospects and customers, then you’re already behind the eightball. If you’re collecting data but have no strategy for how to effectively use it in marketing communications, then you’re only doing half the job.

To manage data effectively you need a good CRM, a customer segmentation strategy, and a publishing platform that leverages the data sets being captured through online interactions, social media connections, search results, real life transactions, and post-sales interactions.

Read my blog post about leveraging the ‘Data Funnel’ and contact me for more thoughts on how you can improve your data strategy.

Which strategy or tactic should be included? Add your comments below.

* Sorry…I know everyone hates acronyms. Hopefully it’s a useful one 🙂

P.S. When I came up with this idea, I didn’t realise the phrase was the title of a novel by Italian author Primo Levi, published in 1982. Read more about the book. The book inspired American alternative rock band Incubus to use the title for its 7th album, released in July 2011.




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Brand ‘Trump’ a marketing #fail

The US election has become a cynical and excruciatingly tiresome exercise in narcissism, rants and conspiracy theories. And that’s just on the Republican side. The Democrats have the least popular candidate in many years, but that won’t stop Clinton from winning given the even lower popularity of her opponent.

The interesting aspect of this election – from a marketer’s point of view – is that Donald Trump is not a politician, he’s a ‘brand’. For the past 40 years he has built a personal reputation as a super-salesman, fusing his name onto innumerable products, buildings and events. Now that he’s a politician – and staking his candidacy on the fact he’s the anti-politician – his ‘brand’ is coming under fire from those who oppose his policies (Democrats and Republicans!) and his behaviour (the general public).

The release of the ‘Access Hollywood’ video that revealed Trump’s “locker room talk” was the tipping point. The end of his serious run for the White House.

However, it did start a movement to boycott his ‘brand’ wherever it was for sale. There are many reports like this one that indicate how toxic his ‘brand’ has become.

Online activists, using the hashtag #GrabYourWallet (a clever trope to Trump’s sexist, misogynist claim “grab them by the pussy”) have started a campaign to encourage anti-Trumpsters (is that even a term??) to tell retailers stocking Donald and Ivanka’s products that they are boycotting unless the store drops the Trump lines.The hashtag has earned an estimated 1m impressions on Twitter.

Here’s a sample of some recent tweets (checkout this Twitter search for more).


There are some very big retailers on the list: Amazon, Nordstrom, Macy’s and Zappos.  How will they react? It’s too early to tell but you can be sure they are closely monitoring daily sales to see if they indicate any decline as a result of the campaign (assuming they can link a decline to the activist campaign).

What is the lesson for marketers? Of course there’s no direct parallel to running for President of the USA with a deeply flawed ‘brand’. This campaign may end up being regarded as one marketing’s biggest fails; in the sense that the brand owner decided it was good idea to move into a new category where reputation is critical to success and consumers won’t buy unless the brand is ‘fit for purpose’. Clearly Trump fell short on both criteria.

UPDATE 22 Oct:  Guardian article on the Trump branded goods boycott.

UPDATE 3 Nov:  Open letter to Nordstrom. This campaign is picking up steam.

UPDATE 15 Nov: NY Mag article on the campaign, including first store to dump Trump-branded products.

UPDATE 18 NOV: Daily Mail article about retailers that are removing Trump-branded products from their shelves.

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How data is turning the Marketing Funnel on its head

Traditional Marketing Funnel theory is based on maximising the number of PEOPLE in the customer journey (the Funnel) so as many people as possible pass through the middle and bottom layers, ultimately leading to as many conversions as possible.

Since the days of ‘Mad Men’, brands have paid for mass media advertising, direct marketing and PR (amongst other strategies) to influence the purchase decisions of people without the benefit of knowing where prospects are at in the purchase cycle.

The below diagram illustrates traditional Marketing Funnel theory that seemed valid in a mass media-oriented marketing environment.

Marketing in a digital world, however, requires a different way to think about the Marketing Funnel.

Marketers must regard the Funnel in terms of DATA collected – not PEOPLE reached. As a prospect – not yet a customer – moves through the purchase cycle (i.e. down the Funnel), marcomms should gather more information about that prospect so each communication gets better and better at converting them to a customer by gathering and using more knowledge about their purchase intent.

The data-driven marketer’s mantra: Quality of data beats quantity of people every time.

This approach turns the traditional Funnel upside down – as shown in the re-engineered Funnel diagram below.

At the top of a data-driven Marketing Funnel, prospects are anonymous as they scan the marketplace for a solution to their problem. Of course through qual and quant research marketers learn insights about consumer attitudes at this early stage of the purchase cycle, and that is vital information to determine branding and advertising strategies.

However, data-driven marketers are constantly seeking hard data that can be used to send relevant marcoms that reflects the prospect’s actual purchase intention. In the AWARENESS phase, the best resource may be 3rd party data that has been aggregated from commercial partners or promotional activities.

The goal for data-driven marketers is to efficiently convert anonymous prospect data (such as TV viewers, mailing list data, website visits, online video viewers, etc.) into 1st party prospect data (email address, location, social profile, purchase intent, etc.).

The strategies to achieve this transition are varied but have one principle at their core: if you are going to ask for someone’s personal information, there must be a ‘value exchange’ so they deem it worthwhile providing their data. No value = no data.  Simple as that.

Two critical data points are: what they want to buy, and when.

Knowing these two pieces of information creates a completely new framework to talk to a prospect. It’s not rocket science to realise that for items with a short purchase decision cycle, the frequency and urgency of the communications will be far greater than that for items with a long cycle. Similarly, for luxury/premium brands or high cost purchases, the message and tone of voice will differ markedly from that used to promote commodity items.

When you have a prospect’s contact details, with permission to send messages, and you know what they want to buy and (roughly) when they want to buy – you have the equivalent of marketer’s gold dust.

During the CONSIDERATION phase, the best marketers are collecting 1st party data about their prospects. This enables them to activate data-driven communications strategies that are customised to match their brand positioning with the changing information needs of prospective customers as they move along the pathway to purchase. The net result is to obtain a more complete picture of the prospect so the messaging reflects reality – not some assumptions based on pure demographics at best or guesswork at worst.

Post-PURCHASE is when a marketer is literally ‘information-rich’. Now it’s feasible to predict future buying patterns and use this data in post-purchase marcoms. For brands that sell a renewal-based product or service – such as insurance, auto and telcos – it is not hard to predict the customer’s needs based on historical buying patterns. For products/services whose sales are more driven by variable factors such as price, fashion, weather, or events, it is critical to develop a deeper level of engagement so the first-time customer becomes a repeat customer regardless of the variable forces that can sway them to choose an alternative supplier/brand.

The theory of a data-driven Marketing Funnel is underpinned by the need to capture as much data about a prospect as possible. Which raises the big question of “which technology is needed to support a data-driven comms strategy?”  A CRM platform will be the ‘engine room’  that must connect seamlessly with CMS, email, search and display platforms, plus possibly ecommerce, social and mobile apps. The whole martech eco-system will need to capture and store leads from outbound and inbound marketing campaigns, plus manage a suite of inbound comms to a segment of one.

If your organisation wants to develop a data-driven Marketing Funnel,
contact marketingbytes for an initial discussion to discover how we can assist with the strategic planning, technology selection and resourcing required to implement.

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Keeping up with the ‘iJoneses’

It’s difficult to keep up with what’s happening in the world of digital marketing and the Internet in general. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of e-newsletters, blogs, online media, social media and SlideShare accounts worth subscribing to.

I was even asked in a new business meeting: “How do you stay up-to-date?”

So I thought I’d share my go-to sources for intelligence, trends, opinions and inspiration about the ever-changing digital landscape.

International sources:

Harvard Business Review
McKinsey Digital
Social Media Examiner
Search Engine Land
Occam’s Razor (by Avinash Kaushik of Google)
The Drum

Australian sources:

Which-50 blog
Heuro e-newsletter
PwC Digital Pulse blog
Zuni e-newsletter
Mediascope e-newsletter

Some other ways to stay connected to the latest and greatest ideas in marketing, technology and digital, that may be useful in your current job or a future role you desire, are:

Join and participate in LinkedIn groups; find relevant meetups in your area; undertake professional education & recognition via the Australian Marketing Institute; attend events like Mumbrella360 (7-9 June 2016 in Sydney), iMedia Connection Summits (Retail Summit 2-4 May 2016 & Brand Summit 5-7 Sep 2016, both on the Gold Coast), and Adobe’s MakeIt conference (5 May 2016 in Sydney).

I know there are many more useful, well curated and written e-newsletters and blogs.  Please add your go-to sources in the comments below.

And just to prove how frivolous the internet is, type in “internet guide” into Google images and you’ll get hundreds of bizarre memes like the sample I’ve screen grabbed here.

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If your organisation is having difficulty staying up-to-date with digital marketing trends, contact marketingbytes to see how we can assist.


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Attention span declining. Shouldn’t we measure retention span?

Consumers have an incredibly short attention span. And it’s getting shorter, which is becoming a frightening scenario for marketers.

In 2013 Microsoft Canada surveyed 2,000 people and found the average attention span had fallen to just 8 seconds. Ouch! In 2000 it was 12 seconds!  And a goldfish is thought to have an attention span of 9 seconds. Double ouch!!

On the good news front, according to the same Microsoft study, our ability to multi-task has improved. Phew!

This short attention span must be read in the context that, according to research, consumers are exposed to at least 5,000 advertisements per day! A figure that has grown from around 2,000 per day 30 years ago. (Source: 2014 study of media usage and ad exposure by Media Dynamics, Inc.)

However I wonder if the issue we should studying isn’t attention span but retention span? In other words, to find out how and why people are training their mind to deliberately take less time to process information by quickly skimming over thousands of headlines, captions, images, film clips and sound bites, and retaining only the snippets of information that are relevant to our professional and/or personal lives.

The study revealed that a technology-savvy audience (which may be a few or most people depending on the product/service) have “lower sustained attention in the long run” but have “more bursts of high attention in the short term.” That is the key here. Using more technology, i.e. multi-screening behaviour and heavy social media usage,  is “training consumers to become better at processing and encoding information through short bursts of high attention”.  Unfortunately, so the report says, “this advantage erodes over time.”

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I’m not convinced that it really is a lost advantage. For marketers it’s what the consumer does with the information after seeing/hearing/reading it that matters most. A short attention span, ipso facto, should not limit a person’s ability to retain the information for later use when making a purchase decision.

There’s no doubt in the pre-Internet world consumers took much more time to gather information and answers to those burning questions (the Encyclopaedia Britannica wasn’t in our pocket back then; now there’s a brand that was digitally disrupted!) or compare prices/features/retailers. Did consumers in that era retain information better than nowadays?

So the challenge for modern marketers is twofold:

a) Create simple and memorable messaging; and

b) Occupy every channel your customer may be prowling.

See – things haven’t really changed that much since the digital revolution disrupted marketing and media.

How long are marketing ideas remembered in this cluttered, digitally-unstructured consumer world? I reckon there needs to be a study into retention span.

Need help with your organisation’s customer retention span? Contact marketingbytes to discover how we can assist with the strategic planning, technology selection and implementation.