Despite marketers’ increased focus on targeting shoppers with personalized messaging, consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated by the mounds of irrelevant mass communications they are still receiving from brands, according to the findings of a recent survey.
The “Marketers Are on a Mission: The State of B2C Marketing” survey by SmarterHQ, Cheetah Digital, Liveclicker, and MailCharts asked hundreds of B2C digital marketers, spanning a number of industries, what tactics they’re using to reach customers, where they’re spending most of their marketing budget, and ways in which they’re leveraging technology to better target consumers.
“While ‘personalization’ has been a buzzword with marketers for years, it’s clear that brands have yet to master tailored messaging, as consumers are growing increasingly frustrated by generic communications that don’t align to their specific tastes, interests, or behaviors,” said Michael Osborne, CEO of SmarterHQ. “In a world where brands like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Walmart execute everything customer-related so well, marketers should strive to continuously deliver better individual experiences. To benchmark if brands’ marketing tactics are meeting the expectations of consumers, we went directly to marketers to ask about their 2018 marketing budgets, what tools they’re investing in, and if the dominance of Amazon has any impact on their marketing spend. Some of the takeaways are eye-opening, but one thing remains clear to us — ‘behavioral marketing’ should become the de facto standard to build brand loyalty and to help delight consumers.”
According to the survey, 70 percent of millennials are frustrated with receiving irrelevant emails, but brands are still sending mostly mass communications. And while all industries prioritize their marketing spend to drive traffic to online first, mobile second, and physical locations last, more than 50 percent of consumers are still doing their shopping in-store.
The survey, which included marketers from across industries including retail, financial services, travel & hospitality, higher education, and media, entertainment & telecom, also found that marketing investments and strategies varied by industry:
79 percent of those in retail are investing in personalization tools, which is more than any other industry surveyed.
Travel and hospitality reports the highest shift toward tailored messaging, with 63 percent of their communications catered to individual customers versus mass marketing. Retail follows, with 38 percent of their marketing mix focused directly on individual shoppers.
Travel and hospitality, higher education, and financial services are investing in content marketing 63 percent more than other industries.
The top four priorities of B2C digital marketers:
Creating a more personalized customer experience: 51 percent of respondents said this was their top-ranked opportunity. “When it comes to personalization, data is paramount,” said Judd Marcello, executive vice president of global marketing for Cheetah Digital. “Customer data is typically underused or used inefficiently. It tells brands, especially retailers, so much about where they can improve or what their customers want, and they can use that data to make a big impact on their business.”
Increasing budgets to invest more in multichannel: The survey found that, this year alone, marketing budgets are increasing on average by 18 percent, with multichannel solutions as the top technology for investment. Respondents reported investing 26 percent more in multichannel than any other technology.
Sending more behavioral-based messages: 54 percent of respondents ranked email as the top ROI-driving channel, mostly because it remains the cheapest to implement and consistently produces the highest engagement. Respondents plan on sending 30 percent more behavioral emails compared with mass newsletters. Yet, millennials only want one to three marketing emails per month, but brands are sending eight to 10, and they plan on sending even more emails in the future. “Marketing teams are often short on resources,” said Carl Sednaoui, director of marketing for MailCharts. “A great way to launch your email personalization efforts it to understand what the best players out there are doing. By seeing exactly how the best companies nurture browse abandoners, cart abandoners, and recent purchasers, you’ll get a feel for what’s right for your own email program.”
Implementing strategies to compete with Amazon: 95 percent of retail marketers said the giant has significantly impacted their marketing plans. However, marketers in other industries aren’t as concerned, or in some cases concerned at all, by Amazon. With Amazon already moving into financial services, food delivery, and healthcare, it’s only a matter of time before they tackle other industries, too. “The most powerful weapon in any marketer’s arsenal is ‘activated’ customer data,” said Justin Foster, co-founder and vice president of market development for Liveclicker. “Activated data is not only the key to unlocking personalization potential; it provides every marketer with truly unique customer insights – insights that can’t be accessed by Amazon or any other competitors.”