Just between you and me and the screen on which you’re reading this, how many times do you block marketing and advertising — on your computer, your mobile device or your TV?

Do you ever wonder if your customers do the same things with the materials you or your company creates? Or do you naively believe that all your messages fall into some rarified sphere of Desirable Content?

The good news is that eight out of 10 Americans are actually interested in what retailers and e-commerce companies have to say, according to research from Vienna, Austria-based Emarsys.

But Emarsys, which markets an all-in-one marketing cloud for predictive marketing, personalization, analytics and marketing automation, found some important caveats.

What Customers Want

Customers and potential customers only want to hear from marketers and advertisers when the message is appropriate, relevant and personal — and they have little to no patience for brands they perceive as spammers.

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of the 2,120 US adults Harris surveyed for the research said they would unsubscribe immediately from all email communication from a company that sent unwanted email. They’d also:

  • Roll their eyes (19 percent)
  • Contact customer service (18 percent)
  • Shop at a competitor instead (14 percent)
  • Complain to their family and friends (13 percent)
  • Blacklist the brand and never shop there again (11 percent)
  • Rant on social media to their followers (6 percent)
  • Post/Tweet directly to the retailer complaining (6 percent)

If you’re honest, there’s probably something oddly familiar with those responses. I, for one, have taken every one of those actions at one time or another.

So what can you do, beyond buying a truckload of crystal balls to intuit the thoughts and feelings of your target customers?

The answer — which is at once so simple and so complex — is to optimize your digital experience (DX). Your odds of effective customer engagement climb when you provide a seamless, personalized experience across channels.

(Editor's Note: You can learn more about the strategies, technologies and thought leadership that drive transformative digital experiences at CMSWire's DX Summit 2015 conference on Nov. 3 and 4 in Chicago.)

Make It Meaningful

As Will Margiloff, CEO of IgnitionOne, wrote recently, “Cross-channel advertising provides the opportunity to appeal to potential customers across marketing channels (search, display, email, web) in ways that are relevant to their activity.”

You want your customers to understand you not only value them but understand them.

The Emarsys research found more than half of Americans (57 percent) are receptive to marketing about sales or promotions. And nearly half (47 percent) said they want to be contacted when something they’ve been looking at becomes cheaper.

When else do Americans want to hear from retailers and e-commerce companies, at least according to the survey?

  • When something they’ve been looking at is close to selling out (26 percent)
  • When a holiday is coming up (25 percent)
  • After visiting a company’s website/social media page/store (23 percent)
  • When they’re at home (17 percent)
  • When they’re shopping in or close to their store (16 percent)
  • When a loved one’s birthday is coming up (12 percent)
  • After visiting a competitor’s store/website (10 percent)
  • When at work (3 percent)

(Really? “When at work?” I guess not everyone works. But I digress.)

The fact is that the list makes one thing very clear: the only real way to make sure you are targeting your customers at the right times are to go beyond broad-brush assumptions and personalize your promotions.

And that brings us back to DX. What are you doing to optimize the customer journey? How are you engaging with your customers to better understand their wants and needs?

One Channel Is Not Like Another

The Emarsys study also confirmed that channel of advertisement can be as important as content for consumers. And guess what? Even in a digital era, some traditional forms of media are still valuable ways to connect.

Nearly half of all Americans (48 percent) said TV advertisements are the most effective in persuading them to buy a company’s products. Print advertisements ranked second (38 percent), followed by email (35 percent), social media (22 percent), radio (15 percent), mobile (12 percent), Internet banner ads (9 percent) and SMS/Text message (7 percent).

The study didn’t delve into things like native advertising and sponsored content, which studies show are generally well received by affluent customers.

Next Steps

This November 3 and 4, at the W Hotel City Center in Chicago, CMSWire will sponsor two solid days of all-out discussion and introspection on the topics related to digital customer experience.

DX Summit 2015 will feature Forrester’s Mark Grannan, plus numerous other industry leaders in the DX space including: Tony Byrne, founder and CEO of Real Story Group; Tami Cannizzaro, senior director, Marketing at eBay; Mike Gilpin, CTO of Siteworx; Bruno Herrmann, director of Globalization at The Nielsen Company; Deb Lavoy, founder and CEO of Narrative Builders; Meghan Walsh, senior director, Global Marketing at Hilton Worldwide; and Melissa Webster, VP, Content and Digital Media Tech at International Data Corporation (IDC).

We’d love for you to join us.

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