Even the most well-intentioned brands often get caught in the batch-and-blast trap, sending the exact same communications to their entire customer base week after week. This approach may make sense initially, when both subscriber lists and content availability is slim; however, as communication channels mature, so must the communication strategy if brands want to keep their hard-earned subscribers engaged and maximize the return on their martech investments.
The risks of batch and blast
Brands sending everything to everyone are often doing more harm than good by inundating their subscribers with content that often doesn’t apply to them. Inevitably, as more messages fail to resonate, inbox fatigue will set in and analysis will reveal engagement decreases, revenue dips, and spikes in unsubscribes.
This result isn’t surprising considering the extremely high expectations that today’s consumer has for their brand experiences. According to eMarketer, customer expectations are at an all-time high and a whopping 83% say they would switch to a competitor for an improved experience. With that in mind, it’s clear that a batch-and-blast approach to communications is rarely the best choice, and is more likely working against achieving a brand’s overall goals.
How brands should approach communications instead
When it comes to optimizing the customer experience, personalization reigns supreme and is the absolute best way to reach consumers, keep them engaged, and build long-term relationships. Personalization also builds trust by signaling to customers that you know and appreciate them, and when consumers trust a brand, they’re much more likely to recommend it to their friends and family.
The good news is that while customers admit to having high expectations, they also report that they’re comfortable providing information to retailers in exchange for receiving personalized experiences. This means brands should collect and act on zero- and first-party data. Again, considering the importance of trust, it’s imperative to handle customer data responsibly and leverage it in a way that provides ongoing value to your customers.
While a personalized approach is preferred and even expected by consumers, it can be difficult to get over the mindset that more sends surely means more revenue and results. Stepping away from batch and blast could mean that a customer receives fewer communications, but those they do receive will be valuable and relevant, making each send much more effective in driving the recipient to take the desired action. At scale, prioritizing the quality of communications over the quantity makes the most out of the limited time and attention we can expect from each of our customers and leads to noticeable results.
How to personalize communications effectively
While the approach to crafting a personalized communications strategy varies between brands, it can be distilled into the popular marketer’s mantra: sending the right message to the right person at the right time. With personalization, a cosmetics brand announcing a new line can leverage data to display product imagery in each customer’s preferred shades. If rainy weather is in the forecast where a subscriber lives, this week’s email from a department store can include discounts on umbrellas and ponchos, while customers expecting warmer weather can be offered sunglasses and shorts instead. Personalization can even allow a restaurant encouraging customers to place carryout orders to show menu bundles that meet each customer’s nutritional requirements and preferred price range.
The possibilities are endless when combining tailored messaging with a data-driven, customer journey-focused approach. In addition to sending the right message, timing is critical for effective communication.
Examples of personalization vs. batch and blast
Let’s look at a few real-world examples:
1. With automation, data can be used to reach out to a new subscriber who hasn’t yet made a purchase but is giving interest in specific products. For example, if a shopper spends a lot of time browsing men’s size 10 black boots on the website this week, showing them a complete digest of what’s available within their interests along with a coupon for a discount on their first purchase.
2. A customer who’s spent considerable time browsing help articles around a specific topic could receive an email with consolidated tips and an invitation to skip the line when contacting customer service for further assistance.
3. A healthcare company can send a customer an email when that supply of vitamins they purchased is starting to run low, reminding them it’s time to reorder and making it quick and easy to do so.
Conversely, consider a longtime customer who receives an email announcing a deep discount for new customers only, or a customer who’s only interested in women’s clothing receiving a catalog highlighting the upcoming men’s clothing line. Worse yet, how about someone with an unaddressed customer service issue receiving an email full of positive reviews asking them to return to make a repeat purchase? In each case, the recipient is likely to feel any number of negative emotions toward the brand, including annoyance, disappointment, and potentially even anger. This affects their overall sentiment toward the brand, and will decrease the likelihood of them opening a future email, making it much less likely they will share positive recommendations to their peers.
Sending everything to everyone may be comfortable and easy, but it’s ultimately detrimental to customer relationships and makes no use of the data and advanced technology that many businesses have access to. With a data-driven, customer-centric approach, anyone can develop a communications strategy that treats each customer as a unique individual rather than just another number, fostering the long-term relationships that lead to loyalty and pave the way for ongoing success year after year.
On behalf of everyone who’s received a coupon they don’t qualify for, has been asked to leave a review for a product they never received, and otherwise has an inbox full of hundreds of unread promotional emails, do your subscribers a favor and personalize your very next send. Breaking up with batch and blast might not be easy, but anyone lucky enough to be on your mailing list will thank you.