“Old Faithful” in Digital Marketing is no Guarantee of Success

Last month, my family and I visited Yellowstone for the first time. Featuring snowcapped mountains, roaring rivers, majestic waterfalls, amazing geysers, bubbling hot springs and wildlife galore, it is probably one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever visited (sorry Chicago). This was a “bucket list” excursion and staying at the Old Faithful Inn treated us to “regular” displays of the remarkable geo-thermal activities in the park.

For this trip and another 43-mile trek coming up in August, we needed a LOT of new equipment: hiking boots, backpacks, hydration systems, etc. We did some “in-store” test runs, but ultimately made most of our purchases online to save some money. This experience highlighted some of the pitfalls still present in a digital age. When organizations still operate the digital channel in a simple segmentation and/or batch campaign mentality, you get less than optimal results.

Amazon, normally touted for their experience, faltered several times by displaying “interaction irrelevance” during my shopping safari. Don’t get me wrong, I love Amazon. They helped me slay the “Christmas Gift Monster” several years ago and I adore Amazon Prime (free 2-day shipping plus video streaming). Since they charge me annually for this service, why would they continue to ask me to sign up for Prime when I already have it? This has not been a “singular” mistake with Amazon either; they’ve offered me this and other irrelevant offers multiple times.

For example, Amazon was also nice enough to offer a $100 gift card if I opened a new credit card with them. I’d seen these offers at check out before, but they were always fairly small value (well under $50) and I don’t need a new credit card. However, it was a sufficient incentive given the cost of the new gear and I accepted. This should have been a big win for Amazon, but instead of crossing the goal line, they stumbled. As I continued with some additional shopping, I was presented with a gift card offer to open a new credit card …again. I certainly did not need two of the same credit cards from Amazon, and $20 had been unsuccessful numerous times before.

Amazon wasted several unique opportunities to engage and build value by presenting offers for products I already had. Why not a Kindle message? I don’t have one yet. Worse than that, they were actually teaching me to ignore their messaging because it was most likely going to be completely irrelevant! And if you’re thinking “at least the bank offering the credit card did OK”, that would be wrong as well. In an odd twist, that bank is the same one whose credit card I use to pay for my Prime membership. So they just cannibalized their own business!

In The Top 5 Ways to Maximize Customer Lifetime Value in Financial Services, I outline how to address some of these very shortcomings. By becoming truly “customer centric” and putting your big data to work, many of these challenges can be overcome. These approaches enable companies to deepen, not detract from, their customer relationships – with each and every interaction. Relevance like that could drive more predictable and recurring purchasing by your customers, just like “Old Faithful”.