How Direct Response Marketing Can Keep Up With Customers’ Liquid Expectations

Customers compare their experiences with your brand to their experiences with Amazon, Disney, and Starbucks, even if you sell insurance, building supplies, or printing services. And you better believe these interactions are shaping their perceptions of your company—and they’re raising the bar for your direct response marketing efforts, too.

It’s Time to Widen Your Competitive Lens
Who’s setting the bar? Not your direct competitors. In fact, your competitors aren’t often who you think they are. Your competitors are also the brands that your customers engage with on a daily basis. That’s right, these include McDonald’s, Google, PetSmart, and Nike; the brands who pour billions of dollars into marketing research, product development, and advertising. And in the process, they’re redefining the customer experience and driving new consumer demands.

Accenture Interactive’s Fjord agency coined the term “liquid expectations” to describe when customer experiences seep over from one industry to an entirely different industry. For example, a customer might compare their easy-breezy coffee shop mobile ordering and checkout experience with their not-quite-as-simple online life insurance quoting and application process. They’re going to find the insurance company experience lacking. They’re going to feel dissatisfied, on some level, and think, “That should have been a whole lot easier!”

While this is clearly an apples-to-oranges comparison, it signals to insurance companies a need to prioritize the customer experience—an experience that’s getting easier everywhere else. It’s an opportunity to rise to consumers’ digital demands and improve the buyer journey, taking cues from how leading consumer brands are delighting their customers.

Liquid Expectations Inspire Direct Marketers
Consumers today expect the companies they partner with to have, at a minimum, a website, social media presence, and offer multi-channel, 24/7 support. But because of the experiences being delivered by companies like Apple and Toyota, your customers want more. They want personalization, mobile access to your content, and seamless connection at every touch point…for starters…because that’s what they’re getting from the most ubiquitous brands.

If your company is delivering this level of “wow”, then bravo! But you’re in the minority, as Accenture Interactive’s Report Expectations vs. Experience explains that only 7% of brands are exceeding customer expectations. Chances are you’re still making your way through this new consumer terrain. So here’s some advice to improve the customer experience by way of your direct marketing campaigns:

Get Friendly with Your Data.
Leading brands are doing a great job connecting with customers—because they’re using everything they’ve got (lots of data!) to deliver the right experiences in the right way in the right place at the right time. So make the most of your customer and campaign performance data to improve the direct marketing experience. Serve them with more timely, targeted messages and offers through the channels they prefer.

Get Personal.
Accenture reports that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history. Use your data to deliver relevant and individualized experiences so they’re more aligned with their interactions with top brands. Get some insights in Who, Me? 3 Best Practices for Direct Marketing Personalization.

Go Omni-channel
Your customers can engage with their favorite brands online and offline—and they often enjoy a seamless experience from one interaction to the next. That’s why you’ll want to mix traditional and digital media and create consistency across your various direct marketing campaign materials, from direct mail and email to website landing pages, social media posts, and mobile communications. Find ideas in Direct Mail and Email: Direct Response Marketing’s Power Couple and Measuring the Success of an Omnichannel Direct Response Marketing Campaign.

Look Great.
While your company’s brand image and advertising may not be as trendy or sleek as DKNY or Jaguar, there’s no reason your direct marketing materials can’t look modern, professional, and polished. Updating your design and copy style—and keeping it fresh and consistent across media and channels—can go far to boost brand perception in the ever-sharpening eye of your customers. Learn more in How to Evaluate Direct Marketing Creative: Our 5-Point Checklist.

Contact us to explore ways to use your data and bring your direct response marketing strategy up to date—and to engage and captivate today’s consumers.