Last week a group of us at Bridge Worldwide got to spend some time with a team from ExactTarget. ExactTarget is a leading provider of one-to-one communication services, with particular leadership in email delivery. A former colleague of mine at P&G, Tim Kopp, is now the CMO of ExactTarget. Great things are happening with their business: The company’s revenue growth is accelerating, and it recently raised $70 million in funding during one of the worst periods in market history. I love the services the company offers and we’ll be exploring ways to work with them in the future. But for this post I wanted to share something special that stood out in their presentation last week: a chart (above) that shows the evolution and payoff of meaningful marketing.
I apologize if this is a little difficult to read, but the visual above is an incredible way to diagnose where your brand lies in the evolution of one-to-one communication. Many brands begin at the far left segment, blasting out the same email to everyone in their databases. But over time, some discover the need for and benefit of adapting their communication by using customer profiles—information such as age, income, and purchase history. Some then do research into the goals of their customers and progress to Persona-Driven models. A small number of brands are using historic and real-time behavior to adapt messaging, and a rare few leaders have modeled their entire database of customer activity in order to predict the rhythms of customer engagement and give them the content they want before they even know they want it.
As this graph shows, case study after case study proves that the more sophisticated companies become at serving meaningful communication to their customers, the higher the return on investment. And this is a payout with increasing marginal returns. For example, a blast email that creates a 1X return on investment might move to a 2X return through Persona-Driven modeling, and to a 10X return with Predictive Messages.
As one might expect, the companies that are doing the most in this space are those with heavy e-commerce businesses, such as Retail and Travel. The reason is that the impact on sales from these adjustments can be measured through actual purchases in real time. To date, industries such as CPG, Healthcare, and Automotive have been slow to adopt sophisticated personalization of messages because they are a step or two away from the final purchase, and the purchase might not ring up for weeks or months after the email arrives.
It takes a leap of faith to make the financial and time investment to turn your one-to-one marketing efforts into something more personalized and more meaningful. But the accelerating benefits make this very difficult to ignore for much longer. Fortunately, companies such as ExactTarget exist to help do the dirty work of making sophisticated marketing happen, and I look forward to working with them in the future.