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Are Marketers' Campaigns Misaligned with Consumer Expectations?

A fundamental gap remains between marketers’ and consumers’ ideas about various messaging channels

With an ever-growing list of channels for brands to connect with their audiences, it seems rational to expect that advertising and marketing campaigns are in a constant state of improvement. But what if these campaigns are fundamentally misaligned with consumer expectations? That was the question asked by marketing technology company x+1 and marketing research firm Research Now in their report, “The Marketer’s Playbook: Aligning market strategies with consumer expectations.” The companies surveyed consumers and marketers from companies of all sizes in the US in July 2013.

The poll found that one-quarter of consumers indicated they got the most help in making purchase decisions from messages delivered via email, making it the most valuable channel overall. But there was a sharp dropoff in the next channel, with only 16% of consumers seeing utility in messages coming through a personalized web experience. Mobile channels fared even worse in consumers’ estimation—6% thought mobile ads were useful, 5% said the same about mobile apps and only 2% thought SMS messages were helpful.

Marketers, meanwhile, appear to have significantly overestimated the value that various channels provide to customers and prospects. Fully 82% thought email was useful, while 87% saw the personalized web experience as helpful to customers—a far cry from the 16% of customers who felt that way. There were also significant gaps between marketers’ expectations about the usefulness of mobile apps, mobile ads and SMS as messaging channels, and the value that customers saw in them.

As staid as it may seem, email seems to serve marketers extremely well, as evidenced by consumers’ perceptions of it. Almost one-third of consumers thought email delivered relevant marketing messages, while three in 10 thought email messages were accurate, and just over one-quarter considered them memorable. While less consumers thought the personalized web experience was as memorable as email, a higher percentage of respondents thought personalized web was both more accurate and more memorable than email.

Clearly there exists a significant gap between marketers’ conceptions of the usefulness of various messaging channels and consumers feelings about them. In order to better bring the two into alignment, marketers can try to take advantage of various tools that allow them to solicit feedback and extract consumer usage data to help guide them in the right direction.

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