Marketers give lip service to creating relationships with consumers, but few are willing to actually do it. It can be risky, but the payoff can be huge.
Consumers have more choices than ever before, but very few marketers give their customers a chance to determine what messages they want and how often they want them. Those same marketers are left scratching their heads when response and engagement rates fall flat, wondering what went wrong. The solution is simple, but it requires marketers to do something few are comfortable with: asking consumers what they want.
Everyone’s a gamer these days–at least to some degree. They’re used to picking characters or avatars, setting difficulty levels, and customizing game play in a number of ways. But marketers rarely give consumers the option to set preferences for content, channels, or cadence. Their marketing campaigns are one-way streets masquerading as two-way relationships. This approach makes life easier for marketers, but it makes their outreach efforts far less effective.
Is Your Brand in a Relationship?
These because it’s easy to forget that the “R” in CRM stands for “relationship.” Establishing a relationship is critical to understanding your consumers, but there’s a general reluctance to ask consumers for more information based on a generalized anxiety about privacy. But this is a fake-out. Greater data yields more personalized, relevant, and useful content, which in turn gives customers greater value and a stronger connection to the brand. Study after study has shown that when consumers perceive genuine value, they are ready, willing, and able to share personal information. This value exchange is the core of all CRM programs.
Similarly, when consumers set preferences and brands actually follow through on them, research suggests that engagement, purchases, and customer satisfaction all soar. The trick is incorporating preference as a highly desired element within a CRM architecture or environment. A brand without a preference center is partially faking CRM.
Customers should be steered to a preference center early in the relationship, when their interest and intentions are high. They should be asked for basic contact data and the requisite opt-ins, and then be given some choices about what kind of information or incentives they want, how frequently they want them, and which communication channel is best for reaching them without annoying them.
Risk and Reward
Setting up a secure preference center requires a modest amount of database preparation and an infrastructure to securely capture and transmit the data provided. In some cases, this data can be stored in ESP tools and used to inform triggers and business rules for email. You can’t really create a preference center unless you have a database architecture in place.
The challenge is the investment. Too many companies see even modest infrastructure costs as “non productive” since there is no immediate ROI. That view is myopic. Giving customers choices–and binding them to their favorite brands in the process–pays off again and again over time.
When it comes to CRM, it’s the customers’ preferences that matter most–not the marketers’.