Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Marketers have forever been lost in the false belief that personal communication preferences and marketing communication preferenes are one and the same. The fact is, we've found time and time again that personal communication habits are a misleading proxy for marketers looking for the best way to communicate with consumers.
This is because consumers don’t truly consider brands to be their friends. Yes, they might love your products and services. They may even love the fact that social media allows them to interact with real, live human beings who work for your company. This does not mean, however, that they will automatically invite you into the same direct communication channels as they do their friends.
Take SMS (text messaging) for instance. It indexes as the most frequently used personal communication channel for people age 15 to 34 and second for those over the age of 35. Consumers love SMS for personal communications because it facilitates short, quick messaging in an environment relatively free of the distractions that clog other channels (advertising, spam, and messages from “friends” in extended social networks). Consumers may text with hundreds of friends, but they are highly selective of the brands they will engage via SMS. This is also true of other emerging channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, where the primary purpose of the channel is personal.
In our 2012 Channel Preference Survey, we asked consumers which channel was preferable for marketing communications from brands whom they have given permission to send ongoing information. What leaps off the page is how different the preferred channels for communication with friends are from their preferred channels for permission-based marketing messages. Email and direct mail index much higher for direct marketing communications while text, telephone, and social networks drop dramatically.
The lesson here for marketers is that just because consumers embrace a channel for personal communications doesn’t mean that they want to receive marketing messages from your brand via that channel. In fact, marketers who attempt to force direct communications through such channels may find themselves blocked by mobile carriers (in the case of SMS) and the subject of far more “unlikes” and “unfollows” than “likes” and “follows" on Facebook and Twitter, respectively. Absent an invitation from consumers to engage through social channels, marketers should focus their efforts on optimising communication through channels where consumers do want to hear from them.