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
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.