Companies spend sizeable budgets on customer recruitment activity, especially since the internet came of age in the mid to late 90's, up until then marketing's (and the external creative agencies) role was to design eye catching campaigns that could be rolled out via a variety of multi-media channels such as newspapers, magazines, billboards, and of course Cinema, Radio, and Television, all very glamorous..... 

Then came the internet, along with the ability for marketing to move from a cost and service department to become the power driver of measurable, tangible, real time customer recruitment and revenues, a true business unit - suddenly there was an explosion of data for them to ponder, refined targeting was now front of mind, and a whole set of companies grew up to service this demand.

For those that can recall, one of the first major data collection storage, and intelligence companies in the UK wasn't 'Cambridge Analytica' it was in fact the company that helped supermarket chain 'Tesco' to understand how to drive more footfall, and increase basket size, this was all from a ground breaking innovative company called 'Dunhumby', who by rights should have gone on to become THE de-facto organisation to drive eCommerce intelligence around the world, but that's a story for another day.

I grew one such company - more on that later!. 

Once I got involved in the early days of the brave new world of eCommerce I quickly spotted a significant flaw in the approach being taken by most retail companies who were looking to adopt eCommerce as an additional channel,

We still see the same issues today in both B2C and B2B, which is what we called a 'recruit and forget' mindset.

We see it all the time in the world of B2B sales, sales people by definition are focused on 2 things;

  1.  Filling the pipeline' and;
  2. Getting the 'deal done', this is where they're incentivised so this is what drives their 'win. win, win' behaviour and makes them feel like 'Kings and Queens'. 

Once said deal is done the baton is then handed to the account team for on-boarding - happy days in sales and customer recruitment you might think?

This same mindset has been transferred into retail and eCommerce marketing teams worldwide, which is why everyone is more focused on recruiting customers, and not as obsessed with nurturing them. 

It's one of the key reasons those really annoying ads follow you around the internet, it's also one of the key reasons that companies moved their advertise and promote mindset into social media, with tactics that are now also managing to completely piss off consumers in their millions.

The fact is that most value from a client/customer is realised after all of this exciting, sexy, upfront recruitment sales activity, but only if you and your company can adopt a different mindset which is based on 'recruit and nurture'

Back in the early days of e-mail marketing the whole e-mail marketing industry (client and vendor side) was focused on a cost per model - we took a completely different view, this was based on helping companies better understand at what stage the customer was in the relationship with the company and brand, we sold them the insights, intelligence, and 'conversational' messaging actions required to move the 'new' customer along the journey with the brand, all wrapped up in the same cost per model, but tied into longer term deals.

I'm very proud to say we worked with and grew the data intelligence and email databases for numerous household names, at every first meeting we always got asked the same question 'can you help us get new customers' and my response was always the same 'so, what's wrong with the ones you already have?'

By taking an 'outside in' mindset, which was based on a customer centric mindset, not merely a 'spray and pray' at the lowest cost 'inside out' mindset, as such we guaranteed to get 30% more value out of the existing customer base or money back.

The (very old) graph below highlights that if you alter the conversation based on where someone is in the 'getting to know you' part of the relationship right the way through to the 'know you very well' part of the relationship taking a 'nurture' approach which is based on relevance to 'me' the customer, not 'you' the brand, your more likely to be seen as someone who has taken the time to 'get to know ME'.

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Today, and as a result of GDPR outbound intrusive e-mail marketing as was, is no longer!. 

Every company has to comply with all the relevant restrictions around the collection, storage, and use of our personal data - and as a former founder of one of the most successful pioneers of e-mail marketing I would say it's a very welcome progress in what is still the digital equivalent of the wild west.

So how do you stay front of mind, and tailor your messaging to help with those prospects that don't yet know, or have experienced what it is you do, how do you keep informed and engage those customers and clients that have been with you for sometime? 

Find out at my one day introduction to 'Social Media' without adverts in November.