Most Marketers Struggle to Reach Targeted Customers

Sixty percent of the digital marketing professionals who responded to a recent survey reported difficulty in reaching their target audiences with messaging and content.

Only 19 percent of those surveyed were “very familiar” with how automation could help drive marketing campaigns, according to the report Ytel released Wednesday.

Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said they liked to use phones for marketing. However, when it came to the tools they used the most, about 39 percent mainly used email, while only 22 percent mainly used phone calls. Seventeen percent identified social media as their most-used marketing tool, while 7 percent most often used digital ads, and another 7 percent mainly used direct mail.

For mobile marketing activities, 58 percent used SMS the most. Thirty-one percent used cold calling, 6 percent used robo-dialing and 5 percent used ringless voicemail as their main tool.

The survey illustrates how much digital marketing has influenced many aspects of marketing communications, said Ytel CEO Nick Newsome.

“These trends will likely become even more pronounced as AI’s development accelerates and as the IoT becomes more integrated with our daily lives,” he said. “These devices will know the present and most immediate status of our behavior, and that opens up new and uncharted possibilities of communication.”

The survey queried more than 2,000 marketing leaders about the state of marketing communications.

Choosing Channels

Companies have been using email heavily to reach their customers, the survey results show, but many marketing officials expressed concern that customers actually were not seeing the content, said Tyler Holiday, director of marketing at Ytel.

“The immediacy of direct phone and text messaging guarantee that content is viewed by the intended audience,” he told the E-Commerce Times. However, “in terms of businesses deciding on the technology, many of them are restricted by their marketing or sales spend.”

An additional problem is that some businesses have encountered difficulty in keeping up with the need for multiple channels to communicate their message, Holiday said.

For example, people over 50-years-old tend to communicate via phone most often, while millennial consumers use multiple options including text, chat, video and various communications apps like Facebook messenger more often than they use regular phones.

Best Options

Approximately 60 percent of U.S. adults own more than one device, and about one-third own three or more devices, said Cindy Zhou, vice president at Constellation Research, based on her Mobile Marketing Best Practices report.

Cold calling as a technique is dead, she told the E-Commerce Times, as people increasingly have been allowing calls to go to voicemail.

That means better personalization and gradual levels of engagement are needed, Zhou suggested.

Reaching consumers via their smartphones is the most effective mobile marketing tactic, maintained Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

“The smartphone is the most personal computing device consumers have and use, and the one that most consumers always carry with them,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

. Still, the growing trend of consumers screening calls and messages to protect their privacy is a concern, he said.

“It’s like being a parent,” McGregor remarked. “After a while, you learn the cries of your child and you tend to filter out the noise unless you hear something that alerts you.”

A new generation of consumers likely will be targeted through their voice-controlled devices, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-It.

“Traditional email use is on the wane,” he told the E-Commerce Times, “so perhaps by the mid-2030s, smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Alexa will be playing the part of digital assistants — screening communications and taking messages.”

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.

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