The key drivers of consumers’ engagement with brands are shifting from rational values, such as pricing and features, to emotional values – meaning the quality of your product may be less important to your customers than how your brand makes them feel.
It’s a marked shift, but it aligns with larger trends. Given the massive number of marketers clamouring for their attention, consumers are now, more than ever before, in a position of control, leading them to become more selective about the brands they engage with, and more connected to the ones they love.
This creates both opportunities and challenges for marketers, as nearly two-thirds are still focusing their brand messages on the functional elements of their products – despite changing dynamics. If creating an emotional connection with your audience is key to winning their loyalty, it’s time to invest in building one-to-one relationships with your customers, by making your brand a more engaged presence in their digital lives.
Engagement and Email Aren’t Synonymous
Brand marketers understand that they need to consistently interact with their customers in order to win their loyalty. For the last decade, email marketing has been their primary avenue for communicating and engaging with an existing base. It’s easy to see why: since the dawn of online retail, email has been an embedded element of the e-commerce experience.
With 86.7 percent of companies increasing email marketing budgets in 2016, the continued dominance of email marketing is making consumers’ inboxes more crowded than ever – creating the need for marketers to “break through” to them with more personalised, context-driven offers.
According to a recent study by Forrester, 66 percent of marketers rate their personalisation efforts as “very good” or “excellent.” But when it comes to issues facing their personalised marketing strategy, 45 percent say their top concern is “consumers delete most email offers and promotions without reading them.”
That outlook essentially places marketers’ problems on customers’ shoulders: we’re doing a great job giving them what they want. They’re just ignoring it!
Going Beyond the Inbox
Across the board, consumers engage with targeted offers from their favorite brands when the offers are delivered the way the consumers, as individuals, prefer. The problem is that by relying so heavily on email, marketers are failing to be present. That is, failing to meet customers where they live, across various apps, platforms, and devices.
Now that consumers shop regularly on apps and mobile web browsers, email’s prominence in marketing is steadily declining. 61 percent of consumers now start the purchase process on a smartphone and continue it on another device, making it important to engage users on their preferred device and channel if they want to drive return purchases and build loyalty.
Sophisticated automation solutions use customer profiling to automatically decide, in real-time, which channel is most likely to drive engagement at the user level. That functionality can help marketers reach 100 percent of their audience with each campaign and tie measurable, attributable revenue results to digital messaging efforts and often at lower costs than through email-first automation systems.
Ultimately, earning an emotional connection between the customer and the brand is vital to business outcomes. To be present for your audience (rationally, and emotionally), you’ll need to understand your customers’ preferences at an individual level and meet them, every time, with an omnichannel-optimised toolset.