One of the most terrifying moments of doing digital marketing is when you run out of attention from your customers. Open rates, click rates, conversion rates – all start to turn and move downwards. You do some testing: Changing the creative elements, subject lines and offering discounts just doesn’t help anymore – or at least not as much as you need it to. Growth is just not happening.

And then you look at the campaign plan and start wondering why your aggressive retargeting strategy and the 20 monthly emails no longer deliver results…

I tell you why: That’s exactly why!

Let’s flip this image. You are an average consumer – well maybe not quite the average consumer because after all, you probably currently work in marketing or with customer experience. But you are still also a consumer and customer. You still get marketing messages in emails, online or on TV. Or…? You don’t? Why? Well, your habits are changing, and advertising must be relevant.

Don't overdo it

I’ll bet that if you receive 20 emails within the first month after signing up to a newsletter or if everything is ALWAYS just another discount, you’ll be unsubscribing fast. Or just ignoring the emails. If you really like the store, you might open an email occasionally. And btw, here’s a real-life observation for you: The craziest example I have seen is not only 20 emails a month. It’s 21 a WEEK! That means that the consumer will hear from you, three times a day – every day!

The same goes for retargeting. Personally – if I’m targeted with banner ads within 5 minutes after visiting a commerce site, displaying all the products I just looked at, I will:

A) Surely not buy anything from that site,

B) Try never going back to it

C) Even consider paying a little more to shop elsewhere.

An excessive amount of emails become overwhelming to the customer

Because if that is their approach to marketing, I’m most likely not being removed from the retargeting segments after purchasing.

For the marketer, the problem is in the strategy and ultimately hitting a point of no return. You’re simply stuck in a campaign performance uncertainty. You can’t afford losing momentum, but your options are limited. Unless you start being smart and do less with much more relevance.

Start by daring to admit that less is more!

Where to start?

The key is to start doing individual and relevant automated targeting, coordinated across multiple touch-points, time and channels. Relevance is not re-showing items I decided not to buy, but include things I did not check out or things I didn’t even know existed. Automation is not just pumping out emails or banner ads. This includes limiting batch newsletters and avoid blindfolded online retargeting.

Have a smart customer focus and use it efficiently

Create a develop-as-you-go vision of omnichannel. And start by building automated processes, handling smart execution in channels you know well and where you easily can pick the cherries. But above all: Focus more on the customer than the channels.

An example is using more online and email behaviour as customers show interest to a category of items or leave an abandoned basket. Another could be to acknowledge your customers via a personal birthday message (even though we all know it’s an automated communication trying to make us buy things). Personally, I’m a big fan of including customer satisfaction surveys or profiling to do smarter communication – not just collecting a Net Promoter Score and then forgetting to use the hidden treasures of the customers’ feedback. That’s the basics ALL companies should have.

I often talk to companies with an already running recommendation engine, but it comes with a risk of a persisting issue as recommendations are only served when you ask for it. You are still sending out a campaign or keep on retargeting your customers, instead of automating a baseline of communication. To some extent you can even stick to a logical rule-based approach, but it requires a lot of work and the capability to handle and understand your data.

The next level - adding predictive analytics and AI

When logical rule-based personalisation gets too hard to handle, you can take it to the next level and have your data work for you. Data analysis is the key, and then putting the data into play – using it to trigger and time communication. A solid predictive analysis solution can tell who, when, what and where to target a customer and increase the probability of a purchase. And also decide when NOT to do it.

Using predictive analytics and AI requires us to go against the ‘natural’ instinct of wanting to be in control. But doing so may get you great results. Follow the blog as I’ll elaborate on this topic in a later post.