The Relevancy Gap: Businesses Believe Marketing Communications Are Effective; Consumers Disagree

Swrve LogoTwilio recently published a fascinating, complimentary Customer Communications Report 2017 to determine any discrepancies between how well companies think marketing and how well consumers perceive businesses’ marketing efforts. The sample was sizeable, surveying digital communications leaders at 413 companies in the U.S., 284 in the UK, and 170 in Australia; and surveying 1,018 consumers in the US, 515 in the UK, and 512 in Australia.

The results show a shocking delta between how businesses think they’re doing and how consumers perceive marketing efforts.

Here are some key findings  from the report on Marketing Communications —

  • Businesses think 13 percent of their marketing messages are unsolicited, while consumers feel 85 percent of the messages they receive from businesses are unsolicited.
  • Businesses believe only 19 percent of marketing messages have information that is not relevant or useful, in contrast with 84 percent of consumers.
  • Businesses suspect 26 percent of their responses to consumer requests are not timely, but 83 percent of consumers feel the responses are sluggish.
  • Businesses think only 26 percent of their outbound communications are not personalized, while consumers feel it is 83 percent.
  • Considering frequency of marketing messages, only 17 percent of businesses think the timing is too frequent, but consumers feel 79 percent of messages come too often.
  • Businesses believe they use consumers’ preferred method of communication 83 percent of the time, though consumers disagree saying only 33 percent of marketing messages arrive over their preferred methods of communications.

Also Read: Why Influencers, Not Footballers Will Score for Brands During the 2018 FIFA World Cup

While some variance between marketers and consumers is expected, these numbers show a dramatic and pronounced divide between digital communications professionals’ perceptions of their effectiveness and consumers’ perceptions about the marketing messages they receive.

If the study accurately represents even half of marketers and consumers in the US, the UK, and Australia, then marketers have no idea what perception their own customers have of their communications. And more significantly, that perception is overwhelmingly negative. Businesses are basically saying “we are sending our customers and prospects relevant and useful communications.” Consumers are firmly voicing the opinion that “you are spamming me with marketing messages.”

That’s a huge problem for all sorts of reasons that the report later breaks down the true cost of poorly targeted and unhelpful communications.

Marketers can be prone to imagining that consumers actually like advertising. But I suggest that all of us in the industry need to start listening carefully to what consumers are saying and taking steps to bridge “the relevancy gap.” Here’s how:

  • Start putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and behave accordingly. Is this particular communication really helpful right now?
  • Think about communication more in terms of service provision than marketing. In other words, start from the ways in which your business or brand can be helpful — genuinely helpful, no more fooling ourselves — to consumers during their day, and work outwards from there.

Also Read: The Most Overlooked Necessities of Branded Content

Marketers have lots of data to help us. Today’s multi-channel marketer has real-time access to:

  • All previous behavioral data of an individual, in whichever channel
  • That individual’s current location
  • Any relevant data from internal systems, such as inventory levels or relevant offers currently running
  • Third-party data, such as weather and news events that may impact on the current wants and needs of the customer

Even within that first bullet point lies a wealth of information relating to which device they prefer to use for communication, the time of day when communication is likely to be effective, and, of course, what types of communications might be appropriate right now.

The next step is to apply this data to start talking to our customers and prospects when they want and how they want.

It’s time to bridge the relevancy gap.

The alternative is consumers turning off, and nobody wants that.

Also Read: Artificial Intelligence is Set to Explode. Is Your Data up to the Task?

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