Leveraging Customer Inertia

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, May 8, 2015
Humans are lazy by nature. I don’t believe that’s a surprise to many of you, but how many marketers actually use this knowledge to their advantage?

Think about it. How many us know that we have multiple options for buying certain products, yet we gravitate to the brand that provides the easiest checkout, or sends us those emails that we can’t resist opening? It’s also very likely that brands we’re loyal to are the ones we feel understand us the best and provide us with the better experience.

The Recipe for Success

Assuming that your competitors are also providing great products, content and offers, the recipe for success over and above what they offer involves the following formula: Loyalty = Recognition + Trust

Once we have created this loyalty, then we can begin to leverage our customer’s natural inclination for inertia. Customers subconsciously recognize that, if they change to another brand, they will need to either teach the new company about themselves -- or worse still, never have the opportunity to teach them, as the new brand doesn’t personalize their customer communications. The old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies here.

But how do we achieve the loyalty required? First, by implementing an email marketing programme that addresses their needs as humans to be recognised and treated as individuals, and personalising their experience accordingly.

The importance of Recognition

Charles Taylor’s “The Politics of Recognition” says that recognition constitutes a “vital human need.” Is it chance, then, that the House of Fraser’s loyalty newsletter is called “Recognition”? I think not.

Let’s look at some typical statements from customers when asked what they want from a brand:

  • Treat me as though my business is important to you.
  •  Reward my loyalty and recognize me for who I am.
  • Respect my preferences and the information that I share with you.
  • Make it easy to do business with you, anywhere, at any time.
  • Be relevant to my needs and circumstances.

It’s clear that customers take doing business with brands very personally – but do we meet their expectations?

Show them that you know them as an individual

But personalising emails isn’t always as straightforward as you may think.

A YouGov and Smartfocus study in 2013 found that 50% felt getting their name wrong was a reason to think less of the brand, and 40% remarked that getting gender wrong would have a negative impact.

Many brands rely solely on explicit data to personalize – but we have much more data available than just what our customers have provided to us. We can also use implicit data like click behavior, browsing behavior, or transactional data. It’s wise to ensure that the data you use to personalize will create the customer experience you want to provide.

Which brings us to trust

The DMA UK’s Email Tracking Report 2014 discovered that 36% of subscribers sign up to receive a brand’s offers because they like the brand, whilst 35% sign up because they’re a regular customer, and 35% sign up because they trust the brand. (Note: Consumers were able to select multiple reasons for signing up.)

Trust in today’s digital marketing is an issue. Customers don't trust brands to use their data wisely. They’re concerned that the brand will either not use it at all or share their data with third parties.

This means that we need to prove our trustworthiness by using their data wisely and creating a meaningful, personalised experience for them.

The bottom line is, if we have proven ourselves to be trustworthy with their data, and if we provide them with a holistic experience that makes customer feel recognized as an individual rather than just part of the mass, then they’re less likely to move to a competitor.

1 comment about "Leveraging Customer Inertia ".
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  1. Kath Pay from Holistic Email Marketing, May 9, 2015 at 4:44 a.m.

    Thanks for your comment Paul - I agree - treating your customers respectfully is key however I'm not sure what you mean by accurately? Personalisation comes in many forms and doesn't always start or end with a customer's name or indeed any other part of their personal life. An excellent example of personalisation is an automated email which has leveraged a touch point that the customer themselves have initiated...such as a cart abandonment email. The innate nature of these emails are personal. Only that particular customer is receiving that particular email at that particular time and the more customer service oriented the messaging is, the more successful the results are. This is also a great example which shows that customer service can be delivered through personalisation. The majority of our customer's additionally find that through this peronalised customer service email, they have an increased AOV - sometimes by 900%! Obviously not only does personalisation work for the the brand in this case, but it also works for and is a valuable service for the customer.

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