Poor communications alienating consumers

Almost six out of ten consumers (59 per cent) have stopped engaging with four or more brands as a result of poorly targeted communications, according to research released by Experian.

The report, titled The future of multichannel marketing: marketer and consumer perspectives,’ shines a spotlight on the disconnects that exist between marketers and consumers and highlights the opportunities available to marketers to minimise the impact of poorly targeted communications.

The Experian figures show that, as a result of poorly targeted communications, eight per cent of consumers have stopped engaging with 20 or more brands. A further 27 per cent of Australians have gone as far as creating a separate email address to receive this information to avoid other email accounts from being inundated.

However, marketers are also making strides to change traditional marketing practices demonstrated by a significant 89 per cent of marketers now using a customer segmentation strategy. In addition, 69 per cent are becoming more selective about the channels they use to engage with customers. A key challenge identified by half (50 per cent) of Australian marketers lies in cutting through the white-noise to get messages through to the consumer.

It’s clear that many marketers are investing in tools to get the right message to the right audiences at the right time, yet the findings suggest that they may not be applying this strategic segmentation across all marketing disciplines, particularly among newer channels such as social media. 

The evolution of social media

The findings show that consumers are least trusting of newer marketing channels such as social media, SMS and LinkedIn for direct communication with brands. Almost three in 10 (29 per cent) consumers ranked social media as among the three marketing channels they trusted least when receiving information about a brand.  While just four per cent said it was the channel they trusted most. 

“The lack of trust we are seeing at this stage in the social media evolution is a natural part of the process for new forms of communication,” comments Matt Glasner, GM, Experian marketing services.  

“Social media is a new and immature market within Australia and there is much that all organisations are still learning about the effective use of this channel and how to deliver value both to customers and the brand,” said Glasner.

“The challenges uncovered by the research are similar to the barriers we saw five or so years ago when customers lacked trust in emails and E-DMs. Yet, for many brands, these are now common place communication channels which are highly valued by customers.”

Consumer attitudes towards marketing channels

A large majority of consumers, 70 per cent, agreed that giveaways or incentives was one of their top three favoured ways for brand engagement, closely followed by direct mail from the brand (60 per cent). Communication via email was named by 46 per cent of consumers as one of their top three ways for brands to engage with them, followed by online and offline advertising as the third most preferred way for brand communication, named by 42 per cent of consumers.

Interestingly, both marketers (91 per cent) and consumers (85 per cent) agree that a company website is the most important source to find out information about a brand or product. Yet when it comes to social media and print there are differences. Consumers value print media (70 per cent) and direct mail from a brand (60 per cent) more highly than social media. This is in contrast to marketers who see print media as one of the least important sources of information (28 per cent).

Investment in the future

Over the next 12 months, 58 per cent of marketers plan to increase their investment in social media advertising and channel development. This is followed by email marketing (52 per cent), online advertising (47 per cent), apps (41 per cent) and events (41 per cent). 

Despite the increased focus on digital, the more traditional channels still have an important role to play, with 36 per cent of marketers planning to increase their spend on print ads. Similarly in TV and radio, 28 per cent plan to increase spend and 52 per cent will keep to the same budget.

“Marketers are working hard to ensure their messages are heard.  However, our research highlights that there is still a huge opportunity for marketers to further understand how and when consumers want to engage across all channels, including social media,” said Glasner.

“Information overload is a challenge for the industry. As we move deeper into an era of multichannel marketing, marketers need to be more selective in their communications and deliver them in a way that is personally relevant to the audiences they are targeting. 

“The big opportunity over the coming year is to apply the clever consumer segmentation that is already being used, to create tailored social media campaigns which talk to the needs of their customers.  This is an important conversation for marketers to get right over the next 12 months which, in turn, will generate greater cut through and start to establish the channel as a truly valued and trusted information source.”

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