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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Preference Management is the Bridge Between Acquisition and Retention

Have you ever entered a room in your house only to realize you don’t remember why you went there? For many of us, it’s because we became distracted along the way. We thought of something else, our immediate priorities changed and suddenly the journey to the kitchen or den lacked a purpose.
On a personal level, it’s no big deal. But on a macro marketing level, it’s a huge problem. Many companies are good at customer acquisition – inviting consumers into the room – but watch thousands of them walk out again, victims to the yawning chasm between initial sale and full engagement. They know how to sell, and they know how to service a recurring customer, but they have no idea how to help someone whose priorities or preferences may have changed after first contact. 
Without an interaction element, companies of all sizes fall victim to the proverbial Bermuda Triangle of modern marketing. The solution lies in continued interaction with prospects by understanding their true preferences through preference management, actively collecting, maintaining and distributing unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, channel preference and frequency of communication across a company’s systems.
According to a recent survey from Forrester Research, 77 percent of consumers say companies should let them decide how they can contact them. Meanwhile, an Infosys global consumer study found that 72 percent feel that online promotions or emails they receive don’t speak to their personal needs or interests. In other words, consumers want to share ownership of the conversation and they want it to be relevant.
Implementation of a robust preference center, or central location for preference selection, is an important first step. Expanding preference collection to multiple touchpoints, such as mobile, social media, in-store, contact center and more, is critical. Finally, deployment of iterative preference interactions at various points in the prospect journey allow for progressive corrections and greater overall accumulation of actionable data. These actions maintain meaningful contact between company and prospect and allow for course-correction prior to disengagement or opt-out.
Forgetting why you went to the kitchen isn’t a crisis – whatever you wanted will still be there later when you remember it. The same cannot be said for a consumer that loses touch with their original interest in a product or service. The company offering that product or service must interact with that consumer to listen, learn and adjust. Otherwise, the consumer will fall into the gap between acquisition and retention, never to be heard from again.  

About the Author: 
Eric V. Holtzclaw is Chief Strategist of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hits bookstores this summer. Eric leads the professional services organization to strategically guide companies on the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.

Follow me on Twitter: @eholtzclaw | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Holtzclaw

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