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Executive Edge: People-based marketing ushers in new era of revenue

With PBM, marketers can offer relevant, timely communications to their most high-intent customers on a one-to-one basis.

By Ryan Urban

Imagine this: A massive group of 30-something, middle-class men from lower Manhattan descend on a Target to make a purchase together. The mental picture is ridiculous, even comical. So why are marketers treating their consumers like just another part of a stereotypical audience with the same hopes, dreams and, well, desire to make purchases?

Today, brands target “markets” or “audiences,” not people. In fact, they usually can’t even identify an individual site visitor who is not logged in, let alone create a seamless experience across different devices or browsers. The unique traits and behaviors of actual people are not continuously captured, so site visitors get bombarded with generic, irrelevant messages.

Enter people-based marketing.

Samsonite used PBM to hyper grow its email list and push high-converting, customized emails to customers. Photo Courtesy of 123rf.com | © weedezign

Samsonite used PBM to hyper grow its email list and push high-converting, customized emails to customers.
Photo Courtesy of 123rf.com | © weedezign

With PBM, marketers can offer relevant, timely communications to their most high-intent customers on a one-to-one basis. Coupled with unique identification techniques like email capture, brands are able to identify visitors, analyze their digital body language and know exactly who is engaging with them. They can instantly identify an individual, no matter what browser, platform or device. And they can put that information to work in real time to get more value – read: revenue – from that interaction.

Samsonite recently used people-based marketing to hyper grow its email list and push high-converting, customized emails to customers. This started with serving anonymous visitors well-timed, relevant email capture overlays. Once they’d identified their traffic, they were able to send automated triggered emails to each of them, with each email fine-tuned to respond personally to specific consumer behaviors. The net of this effort was capturing more emails and getting more value from each of them. The campaign produced a four-time increase in emails captured per month and a nine-time return on advertising spend (ROAS) for the campaign.

So you want to see major gains like Samsonite? OK, let’s look at the key elements of PBM and what it takes to make it successful.

1. Unique digital identification: The foundation to successful PBM is identification. This is more than recognizing a customer during one session; real identification means knowing who your visitors are, even across sessions, browsers or devices.

Emails are the most popular type of identifiers. Most people use a single email address with a lot of online accounts, making emails extremely powerful. Identification offers a major increase in the potential value of customer relationships.

The Samsonite case is a great example of how identification can be a catalyst for growth. Its first step was to accelerate the collection of emails (put out a bucket to collect identifiers); they then improved the revenue derived from those email identifiers with timed, context-sensitive (“triggered”) email messages.

2. Precision messaging: So now you know how to identify your users. But how do you know when to contact them? Or what to say? What are the “triggers” in those triggered messages? Traditionally, triggered messages were only used for simple actions, like an abandoned cart. And while you may get some conversions from that, the ROI is typically pretty low.

PBM takes triggered messaging to a much higher level. When you know a customer on your site, you can use their actions to customize unique emails – called behavioral emails. For instance, if a customer is hovering over a certain product, showing purchase intent, but they find their size is out of stock, you can send them an email when it’s back. Have they been browsing jackets but not made a purchase? Send them an update when there is new inventory or a winter coat sale.

With this much finer view of customer data, people-based marketing enables brands to finally unlock the power (and promise) of behavioral marketing. The outcome of more precise, context-sensitive messaging will be a significant bump in campaign efficiency and return on ad spending.

3. Happy medium(s): Even with the best intentions, your precise, relevant messaging can fall flat if you don’t know the best mediums to use to reach your consumers. Think about it like this: Would you invite your friend to your birthday party using a banner ad? No.

So, even though you know what to say, think carefully about your methods – email, ads, push notifications, pop-ups – because these can make or break your campaigns. Though some news outlets will tell you otherwise, people still prefer email communication to many other forms. They just dislike it when the emails are of no relevance or use. They should include recommendations based on customer preference, cart abandonment reminders and notifications about sales on their favorite products.

Push notifications will be moving in on email’s territory in the coming years. We’ve been trained to respond to these messages. With Slack or a text, we automatically open, read and usually respond. Push will capitalize on that Pavlov’s dogs-like response. But without using PBM, marketers risk fatiguing the channel before it hits its full potential. Push needs to be hyper-relevant, perhaps even more so than other mediums. With the ability to block these messages quite easily, marketers need to utilize all their data to, sparingly, send their customers these notifications.

4. Sustainable growth: The marketing landscape is in a period of saturation and stagnation. Two channels – Facebook and Google – dominate the space, raking in more than 60 percent of the U.S. digital ad investment. And in most categories, advertisers are dealing with increasing costs and shrinking returns.

PBM is a way for brands to open a new revenue channel and move the needle again. We can pick up the cues that people have been giving us, but we have been missing. We can begin to address the needs of people, not “audiences.”

Presented to the right person at the right time, marketing communications can be relevant, engaging and even enjoyable. Creativity can become the driver of success, and campaigns can be about delighting customers rather than desperately poking at them through one of the dried-up channels. And in that kind of marketplace, brands and customers both win.

Ryan Urban is the co-founder and CEO of BounceX, a people-based marketing cloud company headquartered in New York City. In 2016, BounceX was named the fastest growing software company in the United States by Inc. 5000. A veteran of the e-Commerce space, Urban was formerly director of acquisition at Bonobos and prior to that, head of Ecommerce at Brickhouse Security.

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