I recently read an article about the demise of HMV. After 92 years in the music business, the brick and mortar store went out of business. It kept assuming that its customers would stay loyal forever because they had always bought CDs. Instead, online music streaming came into the picture. HMV failed to keep an open dialogue with its customers to learn what they really wanted/needed. One thing that stuck out to me in the article was about the big marketing mistake companies fall trap to: “they stick to tried and tested marketing methods and add a digital marketing strategy as an extra.” Like it or not, digital marketing is not just an “add-on” these days. It is marketing plain and simple. And in the case of HMV, it was the difference between staying relevant and crashing and burning.
However, going digital does not guarantee success. So many brands today assume that digital marketing is the key to success. It isn’t. The key to success is about understanding your customers and their needs, and then applying marketing strategies that address their needs and provide them with useful information. In today’s world, that means including digital as part of the bigger picture, not just an add-on. But it means including it correctly – not just pushing out irrelevant messages that annoy people.
I get tons and tons of daily emails from retailers who are trying to push me into buying their clothes. Sometimes there’s a discount. Sometimes there’s some kind of perk like free shipping. But none of these really matter to me. I mostly get annoyed that I am getting so many emails. Very rarely do any of these emails catch my eye. Instead, almost 100% of the time, these emails get deleted. The same goes for brands I follow on Facebook. Some of them post every few minutes and don’t actually provide me anything useful. Sure, they include an image with their post, but I don’t feel like they are making an impact on my shopping habits. It’s annoying to get bombarded with so many messages all the time. I often end up “unliking” a brand when they start to get annoying.
Companies should really learn to talk to their customers and provide them with information that is useful and makes their shopping experience easy. If this were an in-person scenario, you wouldn’t want to be that annoying friend who doesn’t understand personal space. Or that used-car salesman who is desperate to get you to buy a car. As this appropriately titled Harvard Business Review article puts it: To Keep Your Customers, Keep it Simple. Companies need to really figure out what is driving their customers to search certain keywords. They need to become stewards for information so that consumers can stay informed about products so that when they are ready to purchase something they will remember what they learned and very likely purchase a product from that company. Its okay to send emails alerting customers about sales or offering perks, but just keep it simple.
What are some companies you like that you feel keep it simple?