Until recently, it wasn’t uncommon for someone to personally know local business owners. In many ways, technology has improved the way we do business, but it’s also had a negative impact on the relationships we form (or used to) in the process. Thanks to messaging, that’s changing.
We Used to Be Better at Marketing Communication
Technology has had a dramatic effect on the way we communicate. It wasn’t that long ago that the mail order catalog was viewed as a revolutionary way to communicate with customers. Compared to the complexity of Amazon, Alvah C. Roebuck’s idea seems basic, but in many regards it paved the way for Amazon. The pleasure contemporary shoppers take in online shopping isn’t so different from the joy the previous generation took in flipping through the Sears catalog.
Roebuck’s idea was genius, but it was Richard Sears’ understanding of how to communicate with rural America that made the catalog a massive success in marketing communication for over 100 years. The recipe for Sears’ success isn’t a mix of special sauces, rather it’s the single ingredient of personalized communication. Sears spoke to his audience in the same familiar way that general store owners spoke to him as a child growing up in rural Minnesota.
Where We Went Wrong
Somewhere in the evolution of technology we lost that personal 1:1 touch in favor of mass communication and hyper-targeting. We lump customers into cohorts and then broadcast to them. We tolerate low conversion rates because of the speed, ease, and ubiquitousness of our available channels.
There’s seemingly no problem with combining several customer types into a single messaging campaign so long as there is even the slightest overlap in the Venn diagram. Marketers continue to progress in this direction because of the increased reach, but we’re paying a steep price in communication quality which is affecting customer quality.
Customers don’t like this communication style. Extreme reach and a multitude of channels have caused us to turn a blind eye to what our customers prefer. We can easily qualify this with our own consumer behaviors.
When was the last time that you thought to yourself “I really enjoy receiving countless emails from countless companies each day.” or “I feel honored that businesses I’ve never heard of keep sending flyers and mail to my home that I usually drop straight into the recycling bin.”?
Just Say No to Broadcasting
Broadcast marketing has created a jaded audience. Even when there’s a great campaign that specifically speaks to our interests, it’s often missed because trying to find the signal in all the noise is overwhelming. There are at least 300,000 mobile apps currently serving Google Mobile Ads. Which could explain why 70% of people report disliking mobile ads and usage of ad blocking software is increasing 90% year-over-year.
Look no further than email marketing to see how ineffective broadcast communication truly is. The average email open rate is 20.81% and a 4% click-through rate is considered high according to MailChimp. If you’re only generating a 4% click-through rate, the size of your broadcast platform needs to be extraordinary to remotely move the needle on your MRR―that or have a +30k price point.
We’ve created so much noise in MARCOM that it’s impossible to rise above without being louder and creating more noise. Yet, customers don’t want us to be louder. In 2019, mobile advertising is expected to represent 72% of all U.S. digital ad spending. However, 90% of online users trust reviews over any other form of digital communication. That’s indicative of a massive disconnect between businesses and their customers.
In a world where the average internet user sees more than 11k ads per month, how can we begin to increase the signal and reduce the noise? Our planet is getting more connected and scalability is directly dependent on maximizing time and effort. The picture we have in our minds of the local general store isn’t feasible on a global scale. However, the principles of personalized communication are more achievable than ever before through automation.
We’ve Seen This Trend Before
In late 2005, I was sitting in a meeting with senior VPs at Verizon Wireless, making the case for a shift in ad spend related to SMS & MMS―specifically the trajectory to overtake voice communication. The executive in charge looked me directly in the eye and said with certainty: “Text and multimedia messaging will never overtake voice communication.”
While all major carriers have evolved their views on the topic, the missing component for that executive was the personal nature of messaging. He believed there was nothing more personal than hearing someone on the phone― the effort to make a call in and of itself was the personal touch.
What wasn’t being emphasized at the time was how messaging was changing the dynamics of conversation in the same way answering machines did. Messaging created an asynchronicity that allows conversation to unfold without being tied to a specific time or place.
That simple concept has forever changed they way we communicate with friends and family over the past decade. We are seeing the same trend from 2005 happening now, but this time in the realm of B2C communications.
What’s the Solution
Personal messaging has become so ubiquitous that millennial comedians regularly joke at the idea of voice communication. Major companies like Apple and Facebook have made huge plays in the messaging space and it’s no wonder why. Messaging has a 4x higher conversion rate over email. Messaging is less than 25% the cost of phone and direct marketing. It has a 10x return on investment and +33% higher customer satisfaction rate.
So why hasn’t messaging taken hold as a mainstream B2C channel? In short, because too much emphasis was placed on the rise of bots in the messaging run up of 2016. The market was littered with bot creators, foolishly promising to automate every business use case. Promotion for bots was greater than the quality of technology and the first wave fell short of its intended target.
Regardless, the misplaced hype of 2016 doesn’t change the simple fact that messaging is the communication channel of the future. There are now over 40 million businesses messaging worldwide. Every month there are 20 billion messages exchanged between companies and their customers.
The solution lies in balancing automation and human interaction, instead of having blind faith in bots to effectively do marcom.
Why It Matters
Fast Company recently reported that Gen-Z doesn’t email. There is an entire generation coming of age that treats email the same way that Generation treated the fax machine.
And now that millennials represent the largest generation in the American labor market (which means they will increasingly become the largest consumer group), it is imperative for companies to adopt their preferred mode of communication―messaging.
In order for any company to be successful, it has to be mindful of the needs of its clients and adapt accordingly. To effectively engage your customers and provide them with the best possible experience, you have to meet them on their terms and communicate with them on whichever channel they’re most comfortable.
Interested in learning more about people-to-business messaging and what options are available to your organization? Check out our article Customer Messaging 2019: The Ultimate Guide.
This article was originally published on November 16th, 2018 and last updated on July 10th, 2019.