The Web enables you to create interactive dialogs with customers and prospects. But they don’t want to be rushed into a relationship. You still have to earn it.
The age of skepticism has been with us for years. It began well before social media and all the other digital marketing channels we have today. You could say it is an omni-channel issue.
The idea of building relationships through interactive dialog with customers can be traced to the beginning of direct marketing. The industry, long viewed as strictly the direct mail channel, was given a new name and a new vision by Lester Wunderman in the 1960s.
His vision of direct marketing was revolutionary at the time. In terms of achieving the vision, it is still evolving today. In multiple channels.
In a historic speech at MIT in 1967, he outlined the basic parameters for direct marketing:
- It is a strategy, not a tactic bound by a single channel
- It is where advertising and buying become a single affair
- It creates a direct dialog between buyer and seller
- It builds dialogs into enduring relationships
- It is personal, relevant, interactive and measurable
In his book Being Direct, he said the ability to interact with consumers as they move further upstream in the buying process would expand as technology opened up new media channels. In those early days he said:
“I was certain that consumer-initiated advertising was going to work in the future as more interactive media became available.”
Well, it did. In the second edition of his book he added “The Consumer’s Communication Bill of Rights.” It is a guide to building trust and profitable customer relationships with your online marketing. Here it is.
How to win more customers online
By Wunderman’s definition, the Internet is the most perfect direct marketing medium ever invented. Whether you consider yourself a direct marketer or not, we are all in the business of winning customers. Whether interacting with them by email, social media, paid advertising, blog post, or any other digital marketing channel, we have the same challenges:
- Letting go of the message and maintaining transparency
- Using customer data responsibly to deliver relevant information without infringing on their privacy
- Having customer dialogs that give value and build loyal relationships
- Making it easy for customers to interact and buy
When we do this, we earn their trust.