Physical mail used to hold so much appeal when I was younger. I remember clamoring for every Valpak that passed under my nose just so I could have something tangible to call my own. But, as expected, time changes everything. Now, more than bills and catalogs, I'm bombarded with countless credit card offers that collectively kill more trees than the cash I already use to pay for my purchases (or so it seems). Direct mail no longer surprises, nor delights, for each envelope represents an irrelevant nuisance.Digital advertisers, however, now have the ability to target and personalize communications in ways that direct mail never could. By applying both solicited and unsolicited feedback, digital advertisers have the opportunity to bring preferences and behavioral insight together to build unique experiences that engage and satisfy. Nevertheless, despite this increasing wealth of data, digital advertisers still struggle to parse incoming information as it pertains to outgoing communications.
"The more a brand knows about its customers and prospects, the more effectively they can engage and persuade," says Dave Zinman, chief operating officer at RadiumOne. "As consumers adopt each successive wave of digital innovation, more of their activities become trackable. Media consumption, communications, social sharing, fitness activity, real-world location--all create opportunities for marketers to enrich their understanding of consumer needs. Much of the time, these new data sources are ill defined, poorly constructed, and full of noise. It's an incredible challenge to sift through the offerings and find solutions that deliver measurable results."
Zinman notes that, in many instances, such difficulties arise because advertisers gather data from third-party entities that don't have to prove efficacy, thereby boosting the chance for risk. Is the data fresh? Is it correct? Is it representative of some real intent or is it a dramatic oversimplification of consumer interests? Marketers are taking all the risk and burdening themselves with attempting to achieve ROI, Zinman explains. But, when their media partners or DSPs are responsible for the data collection or evaluation, the marketer reduces risk and effort, while also gaining commitment from their partner to drive digital engagement and achieve the desired results.
"Digital is consumer driven," Zinman adds. "They choose the time, place, and device with which they want to interact. They are beset by advertising, with hundreds of ads a day placed in their field of vision. If a marketer is attempting to engage--whether through advertising, their website, their app, or social programs--the consumers must feel as if their experience is natural. By customizing the content and advertising to speak directly to a consumer, marketers are making it possible to begin meaningful engagement."
Ultimately, digital advertisers must employ this data to ensure relevance. Just as direct mail communications can be shred with ease, email and digital advertisements can deleted or dismissed with mere clicks. Advertisers must understand who they're targeting in order to create organic experiences that offer customers the exact information they're searching for in that given moment. Only then will advertisers be able to cultivate the level of engagement and communication necessary to achieve greater ROI, promote better dialogue, and improve customer retention.