Misconceptions Between Marketers' Perceptions, Consumers' Behavior

There's a disconnect between marketing executives' perception of how consumers like to engage with brands and consumers'  preferred methods of engagement, according to a study released Wednesday. While the findings point to misconceptions related to email, social media, personalization and privacy, the results clearly reveal trends that search marketers can apply to support paid search, search engine optimization and product listing ads.

The Economist Intelligence Units conducted the survey, sponsored by Lyris, to identify the gaps and determine what influences consumer-purchase behavior. It turns out that 37% of consumers participating in the study believe email ranks as most important prior to making a purchase, and 52% believe it is most important post-purchase -- although marketing budgets remain heavily skewed toward investment in company Web sites.



Ironically, 68% of marketers don't support email marketing or understand best practices. Many are put off by the attempt to personalize emails -- although they appreciate custom product recommendations, a feature optimized for many Web sites. While marketers rank personalization as the top strategy to reach consumers, 70% of consumers believe attempts at personalization are "superficial," 63% believe this form of media is too common because consumers don't pay attention, and 33% believes it has become an annoyance.

Aside from misconceptions surrounding the type of content that consumers like to receive in email offerings from brands, marketers still don't understand the concept of Big Data and how the information can support services. Half of marketers admit that they lack the budgets to manage digital marketing and databases, and 45% said they lack the capacity to analyze lots of data. No tools or best practices. And despite the advantages offered by data to influence conversions, only 24% always use data to create actionable insights. Only 27% integrate customer data from various sources into the company's database.

Companies could squash many of the annoying personalization efforts tying together online, offline and call center customer databases. Yesterday I bought coffee from Keurig. I tried to make the purchase online, but the system wouldn't allow me to redeem a special offer. So I called their customer service center to make the purchase and closed the browser window. The rep honored the offer. This morning I received an email from Keurig reminding me that I left items in my basket.

I don't sweat the small stuff, but tying a company's customer service system to the online ordering system would alert Keurig that I placed the order -- and perhaps, that it's too soon to place another. Automation should have caught the transaction and stopped the email from arriving in my email box.

Marketers underestimate consumers' privacy concerns. Some 33% of consumers have concerns about data privacy via opt-in methods, and 49% about online privacy in general -- yet 23% of marketers underestimate consumers' concerns, according to the report.

"Two people carrying question mark" photo from Shutterstock.

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