Are marketers really interpreting their customer feedback?

Another week, another set of stats on how DM is still highly valued by customers as a marketing channel from a supplier that does business in the sector.

But there are findings in this new report on technology and brand relationships from Acxiom that ring true – and it appears a rigorous survey.

Acxiom asked a national panel of more than 1,000 consumers about their attitude to technology and communications and cross-referenced this with replies from 222 professional marketers from all sectors on what they think the consumer attitude is.

There are some big discrepancies.

The survey is not just about DM and its key finding is that on average, across all industries, 82% of customers said they felt in control of brand relationships – meaning they received relevant communications when they wanted them and through their preferred media channels.

Guess what? There was a massive 52 percentage point difference with what the marketers thought; the marketers believed only 30% of individuals are comfortable with their relationships.

But moving on to the DM findings, more discrepancies arise. The survey found that 57% of prospects viewed DM as “an appropriate way” of reaching them – but marketers believe only 35% of prospects would welcome DM via post.

The allied digital channel email found 77% acceptance with customers, down to 52% with prospects.

Interestingly, this contrasts with the acceptance for the latest hot to trot form of marketing, mobile. Marketers appear to have been overestimating current contact opportunities offered by mobile phone.

Only 12% of customer respondents felt mobile advertising appropriate, down to 9% for SMS marketing. Marketers pitched higher figures, assuming 45% of customers would welcome mobile-based advertising and 25% would find text messages appropriate. And let’s not go to social media, oh, all right – only 4% of respondents approve of contact through Twitter and other social media.

Straightaway this survey sets up the question where are marketers getting their opinions from? Are they interrogating their customer data correctly with a 360 degree view and are they being properly briefed on the full ramifications of some of the new technology and channels that have appeared in recent years – and how customers really use them?

Some conclusions one may draw are that direct mail is not considered intrusive and that email is nowhere near dead as a direct response channel. All such surveys should be treated with some caution as there will be a vested interest in the results from the commissioning party. But all good food for thought and debate when the budget wrangle comes up in marketing departments.

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