Consumers Demand Communications Preferences

Josh GordonForrester Research Principle Analyst Dave Frankland published a report last month entitled, "Marketers: Stop the Abuse&#33 Adopt Preference Management." Frankland highlights the importance of companies taking the necessary steps not just to understand basic product or service consumer needs, but also communications preferences.
As Frankland points out, marketers often undervalue understanding a consumer's communications preferences. With the ever-expanding communications options available to the modern consumer, the consumer is even more empowered than ever before to control how they receive marketing communications. Brand managers must understand that when customers have the leverage, they must be careful not to violate their sometimes fleeting trust. A good way for a company to demonstrate their understanding of both the evolving consumer and the different channels within direct digital marketing, is to offer a communications preference survey in a transactional email, or dynamically before a customer submits an order, or through a one question mobile SMS survey.

The point is that consumers are accepting of brands they like communicating with them. It is up to brands to understand the best way to create – and maintain – that relationship. Frankland’s survey uncovered that marketers are not implementing programs designed to capture their consumer’s communications preferences. Further, Frankland asserts that when they do receive that information for consumers they do not properly use it or demonstrate any understanding of it when executing marketing communications. For some marketers the preference information is needless – other see it as an opportunity.

Consumer communications preferences are not just limited to channel, either. The old marketing buzz word of “daypart” applies here, too. Plus, consumers have demonstrated a frustration with frequency – that is too many emails from the same company.

Traditionally, upsetting the consumer with bad marketing strategy (read: batch and blast) was treated as the cost of doing business. Attrition happens. But clinging to that antiquated philosophy demonstrates an inability to accept and adapt to the changing consumer landscape. It also misreads the value of social media from the consumer perspective. Consider the organized consumer movement to change Tropicana’s decision to change their icon, only to be forced to abandon the campaign. From the sublime to the ridiculous, consider Ikea’s recent decision to change fonts in their catalog from Futura to Verdana has triggered a worldwide consumer backlash. As of right now Ikea plans to stick by their business decision to use Verdana as it works for print and digital media, and they value one font for all.

The point is that what consumers say matters. If they have multiple channels to tell their story, why do marketers not successfully use the channels at their disposal to keep consumers happy?

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