“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.” – Seth Godin
Ever since Godin published his book on permission marketing back in 2007, businesses have put an opt-in database of customers and prospective customers at the top of their marketing wish list, knowing that this is the smartest way to improve the effectiveness of their marketing.
Whilst most have used the intervening 5 years to get comfortable with data regulation and compliance, very few are actually optimising every opportunity available to build a multi-dimensional permission based asset (that’s a database where everyone has chosen when they want to be contacted, about what and through which channels).
Effective Marketing Step 1: Ask the right question at the right time
Many people simply still aren’t asking their customers to engage with them. The 3 little words that are needed are “will you join” (our marketing list, loyalty club, priority customer list, special offers club etc…) and are missing from the vast number of interactions a retailer has with its customers. There are thousands of people in your stores, on your social media pages, on your website, viewing your ads each and every day and it’s a real lost opportunity if you don’t give them the mechanism and correct incentive to sign up to a marketing list.
The second major issue for marketers is that they are very email-centric in their data collection efforts. Email is becoming a decreasingly effective marketing channel and yet most of a marketer’s data building effort goes into capturing more email addresses, neglecting other better performing channels such as mobile marketing where you can achieve 5 times the open rate of email. This emphasis has become even more questionable since Google’s recent release of Tabs within Gmail, which partitions away all promotional emails into their own dedicated tab making marketing emails now even easier to ignore than before.
The third issue is that marketers can often take the stance that people will simply just sign up of their own accord. They won’t. You need to provide a clear and easy to understand incentive that is aligned with your messaging and clearly visible at every till in your store (offers are still the number one way to drive sign ups).
Building your own list is a sure fire way to reduce both your marketing spend and your risk profile in the medium to long term as you become less reliant on other marketing channels like TV, Radio, Print, Facebook, Google or daily deals sites. All of which you must pay repeatedly to access databases that belong to other companies at great cost.
Effective Marketing Step 2: Use this precious resource in the right way
Of course not everyone will sign up, but those that do can be contacted instantly with special offers, last minute deals, secret sales, event info, surveys and competitions. These kinds of communications form the foundation for an on-going value delivery programme.
If your communications are designed only to serve your own ends and don’t offer any value or opportunity to engage for the consumer you’ll go through your hard won list like a hot knife through butter. With the right support it is a quick and easy task to devise value adding messages and use the latest marketing automation tools to optimise their distribution.
At the very minimum, every customer that walks through your door should be asked to subscribe to a marketing list; this should be an integral part of the cashier’s job whether they enjoy doing it or not. Ryanair cabin crew probably don’t enjoy selling scratch cards, but they do it along with a myriad of other non core tasks that help drive huge profits at the airline. We would however recommend you incentivise your staff with a small bonus every month for good data collection.
People aren’t going to hand you their data as a good will gesture; they need an incentive to do so and to be getting a perceived value from remaining on your list with every contact you have with them. With the correct systems, training and messaging a retail group can build a hugely valuable database within months and use it to drive sales and loyalty for as long as people use mobile phones.