It’s now fairly well accepted that simply broadcasting marketing messages using email, social media – or other channels for that matter – is no longer the best way to get your point across and build strong relationships with customers. It’s not like this has ever really been the case, but brands can’t get away with it anymore since consumers have come to expect so much more when interacting with the companies they love.
However, according to the results of a new study from ExactTarget and CoTweet, it seems that for all of the proclamations of the social media bubble about ‘new ways of thinking,’ many businesses are still stuck in their ways. Or, at the very least, that consumers aren’t seeing the benefits of a more subtle approach to conversing online.
According to the survey, over 90 percent of consumers have unfollowed, unfriended or unsubscribed from communication with at least one brand on Facebook, email or Twitter because of irrelevant, too frequent or boring marketing messages.
Unsurprisingly this is supported by the fact that 77 percent of over 1,500 consumers asked admitted to being more cautious about providing their email address to companies in comparison to last year. A further 71 percent said that they were also more selective about ‘liking’ a company on Facebook as well.
Drilling down deeper into Facebook activity specifically, 51 percent of consumers expect that a ‘like’ will result in marketing communications from brands while 40 percent don’t believe it should. As a result, a huge 81 percent have either ‘unliked’ or removed a company’s posts from their Facebook news feed.
Jeff Rohrs, principal of ExactTarget’s Marketing Research and Education Groups, said that although people remain willing to interact with brands online, this is often taken for granted. “Consumers understand now more than ever that they are in control of marketers’ messages and will punish irrelevant, voluminous or boring messages by cutting off marketers means of direct communication.”
We’ve said many times that there are a few companies who ‘get it’ when it comes to the two-way nature of building rapport with people online, and many more than that don’t even know where to start (a sentiment that’s mirrored by Meanwhile’s Philip Sheldrake in his upcoming book, The Business of Influence). Because of this, the results of this survey are less than surprising but can be interpreted in different ways. Either brand just isn’t responding to the new expectations of consumers, a few bad eggs spoil it for everyone or that there’s still a need to educate.
For PRs, this doesn’t mean working independently, as the skills required to assist a client with their search or email strategy rarely sit naturally within the communications basket. But instead, working with specialists in various fields while helping to retain consistency throughout the overall marketing strategy. That’s where the opportunity lies.