Why consumer connections have changed

Why consumer connections have changed

The rise of big data means we don’t connect like we used to. For marketers, keeping things simple is sometimes best.

I recently opened my inbox to discover an email from a furniture company I’d made a purchase from earlier this year. A summer sale? A discount offer? A new line?

No such luck. The email advised me that a desk I’d enquired about last year had come back into stock. Great. Except I’d already bought the desk, six months ago.

Why didn’t they know? Why waste my time?

A week later I got another email. Same info. Double frustration.

The emails broke the rules by not understanding my previous actions or predicting my likely future behaviour – my needs and desires. It didn’t even understand one of my pet peeves, which is having to spend time engaging with inappropriate and useless content.

“I haven’t got time for this,” I thought. Surely I can’t be alone in wanting brands to understand exactly what I want?

Of course I’m not.

In our multichannel digital age, the repercussions of the data we constantly generate impinges on our always-connected lives every time we look at a screen. We are subject to a constant flow of information from all sides. This tower of data is meant to be used for our benefit. As Stephen Upstone, CEO of mobile video platform LoopMe and chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association, recently told me:

“There’s content browsing behaviour, which we’ve seen before with the web. Then there’s mobile location data – not just your current location, but your location history and what that tells us about you. Then there’s the journeys you’ve taken between data points and what that says about you and your ‘need states’ and your receptiveness to advertising. Finally, there’s transaction data from actual purchases. All that, I would argue, provides an obligation for marketers to really listen to consumers and have better dialogues with them. Your feedback loop with consumers should be much more in real time and in-depth.”

But we’re not there yet. We’re not currently able to predict the what, where, when and how of perfect, seamless, useful, guaranteed-value marketing messages.

Meanwhile, bombarded with so much ‘close but no cigar’ content, consumers are becoming guarded and precious about their time. Ask them and they’ll probably say they want less marketing, not more. They’re being ultra-selective – deleting messages from their inboxes in a clean sweep every morning, installing ad-blockers, scrolling on down the page, even developing what you might call ad-blindness.

Are marketers able to connect with consumers in the same way they did when people bought the same newspaper every day for a lifetime and only watched three channels on TV, of which only one carried ads? No, of course they can’t. Do consumers want to interact with brands every time they look at a screen? No, of course they don’t.

But neither do we want to go back to pre-digital ideas of connectivity. Let’s face it, the tech is simply too useful. So where do we go from here?

Part of the answer is that marketers must focus on creating content that truly connects and resonates with their audience, so that when they do tune in, it has real relevance and impact. They must also learn that having enough data to target individuals doesn’t always mean those individuals are ready to be targeted. Sometimes less is more – and, sometimes, broad-brush marketing still works better than attempting clever personalisation and getting it wrong.

I still don’t need another new desk. But I could do with a small bookcase, though I haven’t started searching for one yet – and still no-one’s put a simple two and two together and sent some suggestions to me. I’m waiting…

If you want to learn how to create effective and engaging content, as well as build a successful content marketing plan for your organisation, then why not enrol onto our next Content Marketing Planning course. 

Martin Bewick Content Lead CPL
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