It's been 15 years or more since once-nascent concepts like permission and one-to-one marketing — spawned by the new capabilities of the Internet — completely changed the way we think about relationships with consumers. And along the way, technology has completely flipped the way consumers behave themselves. They're not just signaling that they want to engage with brands on Twitter or over email; they're also voluntarily divulging the kinds of personal details that were only shared among close friends a few generations ago.
The great irony of this sea change in thinking and behaving is that most marketers themselves are still living in the dark ages: Too many companies, for all their technological prowess and brainpower, are following old-school marketing models for strategy, tactics and even their organizational structures.
In fact, a new study from Forrester Consulting (commissioned by Responsys) found that nearly 60 percent of marketing functions plan to boost funding for untargeted email marketing and display advertisements in 2014.
Customers control the message
What a good portion of today's marketers have been slow to realize is that consumers now run the show — about when they shop, how they shop and what messages or content they choose to engage with. They want to rub elbows with brands, but on their terms, not yours. At the same time, too many companies still rely on the many-to-many, mass-marketing techniques that have dominated this profession since the dawn of broadcast technology — delivering one message, through a campaign timeline, to the largest audience possible.
The great promise of marketing in the digital era — orchestrating individual experiences for customers, at scale — is something most companies talk about, but don't actually do. Too many remain obsessed with using technology simply to acquire more and more customers — a strategy with increasingly higher costs and diminishing returns — instead of using it to build valuable and lasting customer relationships.
This has to change. The "campaign" era in marketing is over, and what we’re calling the post-campaign era is in full swing. For many marketers, that means coming to terms with some hard truths about what they're doing and why.
Email marketing is out of touch
Email marketing over the last decade was ruled by "batch and blast" thinking because the Internet gave marketers a low-cost, infinitely scalable platform to do that. It worked, for a while. When the success or failure of a campaign was based on volume alone, email marketing looked like the cheapest means to grab new customers and drive sales. But customers, naturally, began to gripe about the huge influx of unsolicited messages. Since 2007, already abysmal click-through rates have plunged 33 percent.
Today, marketers have access to unprecedented amounts of customer data that can improve their targeting, relevance and performance. But while marketers will send out a record 258 billion emails this year, just 11 percent of Fortune 1000 companies will use any data at all to support their campaigns, according to Forrester Research and CEB.
That's a mistake. Marketers today can -- and should -- be tracking and actively mining data that shows how and when customers are interacting with email and the web, what they are buying and when, and their location, age and gender based on information they voluntarily disclose in their profile preferences.
Marketing calendars are obsolete
Traditional campaign calendars are too often based on bad assumptions about customers and their buying habits. Customers no longer head to the nearest mall on a Saturday afternoon to shop. They are always shopping and it's happening across multiple channels -- via email, social media, the web, and mobile.
Campaigns that revolve around a calendar -- for instance, sending an email about tropical vacation destinations during the winter – isn’t even close to being as effective as sending an email that’s based on someone’s specific travel intent, such as browsing flights for a specific destination.
Mass customer acquisition doesn't work
There's a huge disconnect between where marketers are spending their money and where revenues are coming from. According to Forrester Research, marketers spend 80 percent of their digital marketing budgets on customer acquisition. Yet, according to research from Adobe, 40 percent of retail revenue comes from existing, repeat customers. Marketers in the United States and Europe must bring in five and seven new shoppers to generate the same revenue of just one repeat purchaser.
The message: mass trolling for customers via email, search, mobile and social might scale well, but it's become a fool's errand when existing customers are a company's best source for future revenues and new customers.
Marketing teams need a makeover
Just as traditional marketing tactics are obsolete, so too are the structure of most marketing departments. Many departments are still operating in silos, with one team responsible for email marketing, another for display advertising, and so on. The groups don't coordinate their marketing methods, let alone even talk to one another about how to orchestrate the customer experience across all the digital channels. Our experience has shown that orchestrating email messaging with online display advertising can dramatically improve sales.
As a company transitions from campaign-centric to customer-centric strategies, integration and communication are critical to the marketing team structure. How marketing teams change to meet specific business goals will differ from company to company, but this much is clear: the divisions within marketing teams must be bridged.
Not sure where to start?
Download the free study by Forrester Consulting, "The Rise of Marketing Orchestration" for recommendations on how to begin shifting your thinking and organization away from the campaign and toward the customer.