Multichannel marketing which is not preference–driven is simply multichannel irritation!

Have you noticed? Traditional “spray and pray” marketing isn't working that well anymore. The reason is simple: The power balance between marketer and consumer has shifted dramatically in recent years. It's not shifting back at any point in the foreseeable future.

And that's not all. This economy has profoundly changed the expectations and priorities of customers and prospects in both the business-to-business and business-to-consumer sectors. Our Voice of Customer research indicates that engagement/relationship strength has twelve times more influence on retention and repeat purchases than customer satisfaction does. In today's environment, customer satisfaction is a minimum expectation.

Today's consumers are better informed, more skeptical, and shorter on time than ever before. They are also far less willing to engage with untargeted, undifferentiated messaging that wastes their time.

In short, customers expect to set the terms of the relationship with us! Marketers who fail to embrace, adapt and respond to the unique “rules of engagement” of the new marketplace, as defined by their own best customers, will find themselves at a profound competitive disadvantage. Those who succeed in engaging with today's more empowered, more demanding consumers, on the other hand, will find themselves in a position to generate consistent double-digit response rates, better margins, and far greater long-term customer loyalty.

To achieve this level of double-digit results, marketers must move beyond a “CRM” (customer relationship management) mindset to a “CMR” (customer-managed relationships) mindset. That's not a cute turn of phrase; it's a fundamental shift, one that recognizes the reality facing marketers today: customers don't want to be “managed”. Instead, customers expect engagement, input, and control over the relationship. We ignore that reality at our own peril.

For proof of this, consider that there are currently 191 million phone numbers on the national Do-Not-Call list. That's the largest grass-roots movement in American history! As of this writing, we have 50% more people opting out of marketing in this country than exercising their constitutional right to elect a president. Today, a dissatisfied consumer may well start a Facebook-driven boycott of the company that he or she feels has missed the mark!

The bottom line is that the social media revolution has taken the customer to a new level of power, and our marketing initiatives must reflect the new dynamic that has emerged. Traditional “push” marketing still makes money, but it is on a decline. We must now add “engagement” marketing to our list of capabilities. To do that, we must adopt a 3-Step Relationship Marketing Process:

VOC MarketingStep 1: Conduct Voice of Customer Relationship Research. The methodology we use entails one hour, in-depth interviews with prospects, customers, and stakeholders. The goal is to understand how they define “relationship”, the messaging and offers they expect, and the value the marketer must deliver to drive ongoing engagement and increased Life Time Value.

Step 2: Create Opt-In Relationship Strategies. To deliver on the customer expectation of value, relevance, and relationship, you must learn how to create engagement at the level of the individual and per that individual’s specific preferences. The only way to gather this information is to engage the customer to Opt-In and tell you their specific messaging, offer and media preferences. It's much like dating. On date No. 1, certain conversations and questions are appropriate and some are not. Companies that ask a ridiculous number of questions in the beginning are going to be unsuccessful.

Step 3: Create a voice of customer driven Multichannel Mix. A critical function of the Opt-In preference profiling is understanding the individual customer’s media preferences and aversions.

Multichannel marketing which is not preference–driven is simply multichannel irritation!

We need to gather specific data regarding preferences/aversion as they apply to social media, e-mail, direct mail, telemarketing, etc.

Clients that adhere to the discipline of 3-Step Relationship Marketing process consistently achieve double-digit response rates. Microsoft, achieved opt-in rates of 45% to 95% in a recent campaign! It's intuitive to say we need to engage and listen to the customer, but taking action on that “common sense” observation is not all that common. The 3-Step process will help you do that.

These three steps allow us to treat consumers the way we ourselves would like to be treated. It's dramatically more cost-effective than traditional spray-and-pray initiatives. These strategies go straight to the bottom line, which is the reason that companies like Microsoft, MSC Industrial Direct, Amie Street, Inc., and many others have made it a part of their business process.

I hope you'll join me at Digital Marketing Days at the Hilton New York on June 15 at 9:00 am. I'll be reviewing the 3-Step Voice of the Customer process in much more detail there, and sharing some of the extraordinary results it has generated. The name of our session will be: How to Increase Sales 20% by Deploying Your Multichannel Mix Per “Voice of the Customer” Media and Channel Preferences.

My co-speakers will be: Richard Bonfiglio, Director of Customer Marketing, MSC Industrial Direct. He will demonstrate how MSC utilized Voice of Customer insights to deploy a more effective multichannel mix to drive incremental sales in excess of 20%.

Elias Roman, Co-founder, Amie Street, Inc., and Songza Media, inc., will discuss how this hot online music retailer is deploying social media best practices to drive deeper customer engagement, community, social media word of mouth, and high repeat purchases.

Attendees will learn:

1. How to use the Voice-of-Customer Driven 3-Step Relationship Marketing Process to achieve double-digit increases in results.

2. How to achieve marketing relevance and effectiveness through multichannel and opt-in marketing strategies.

3. How Amie Street, Inc., Songza Media Inc., MSC Industrial Direct, and Microsoft significantly improved their customer experience and increased sales by up to 20%.

I hope to see you at the Hilton New York at Digital Marketing Days in June!