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Overwhelmed with Endless Marketing: New Research Finds That Customers Are Sick of Irrelevant Messages from Retailers

Ometria Finds That Marketers Face a Choice between Stressing out Customers with Lots of Generic Marketing, or Putting Customer Experience First

AI-powered customer marketing platform, Ometria, launches its third annual ‘consumer census’ which interrogates the state of retailers’ communication with UK consumers. Ometria partnered with Censuswide to survey 4,003 consumers across the US and UK.

The findings of the research suggest that customers are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by their inboxes – and they attribute this directly to retailers sending too many marketing messages. Therefore retailers still have a long way to go in improving their relationships with customers and are not effectively ensuring that they are always a useful and positive presence. Across the survey, 74% of respondents express annoyance at being emailed too often by retailers, with 70% admitting to regularly feeling overwhelmed when they open their inbox – with 15% feeling this way on a daily basis.

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Retailers also need to improve customer experience online (and off) to compete with the growing threat from Amazon and to retain customers – over two thirds (67%) would consider ditching other retailers for Amazon if they could, saying they would buy everything from the site if it was possible.

The power of personalisation 

The census revealed that personalised and relevant content is key in creating better marketing experiences for customers. Over 4 in 5 (82%) of all respondents said they want to receive personalised offers and rewards for being a loyal customer, but over half (53%) say that retailers do not understand their personal tastes and interests. In fact, two thirds (66%) claim to be actively annoyed when retailers promote products to them that they are not interested in, compared to the 46% of consumers who feel valued when retailers send them product recommendations that are tailored to the things they like. It’s clear that retailers need to get better at individual marketing, and that sending generic, ‘batch and blast’ messages to customers no longer works for them – retailers must take this into account or risk alienating customers.

The use of AI and data in marketing 

Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal – understanding of which was popularised by The Great Hack – and the implementation of GDPR, the debate around the use of data and AI has intensified. In fact, 3 in 5 (61%) of all respondents said that they are now more wary of how their data is collected and used by retailers.

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However, it isn’t all doom and gloom for marketers. The findings of the research suggests that people increasingly understand that AI is not a threat, but provides the best way to get better service. Over two thirds (68%) did not declare themselves as ‘uncomfortable’ with the idea of AI helping retailers to better communicate with them. While a third of consumers expressed some discomfort at AI being used in relation to their customer profiles, this number was 5% down on last year.

Meanwhile, consumers – and especially young people – are happy with exchanging their data for a better service, as long as that data is treated with respect. In fact, more than half (53%) of respondents said that they are more likely to shop with retailers who give them choice around how they use personal data in marketing. The research found that feeling ‘very comfortable’ was especially high in younger people, with 12% of those aged 16-24 feeling ‘very’ comfortable compared to 4% of those aged 55+.

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Creating experiences customers love 

Customers today expect a fantastic end-to-end experience, whether they’re a new shopper or loyal customer. However, just satisfying their immediate needs is no longer enough – they also want to feel good about that experience. We see this emerging in two ways: customers resent retailers overloading them with messages, adding to the stresses and demands on their time. Over two thirds (70%) admit to feeling overwhelmed by marketing emails when they open their inbox, with 15% saying they feel overwhelmed on a daily basis. Even worse, over a third (37%) say that messages from retailers actively contribute to their stress or negatively impact their overall happiness and/or wellbeing.

The vast majority of people are loyal to only a few retailers – showing how hard retailers must work to get into this coveted inner circle. Over half (58%) of customers say they are loyal to three or fewer retailers, with a massive 82% loyal to five or fewer. In order to retain those high-value loyal customers, retailers must ensure they are appropriately and personally building a relationship. It’s easy to lose loyalty if retailers do not appropriately reward their customers, who can find better elsewhere if needs be. Over half (54%) get annoyed when they don’t get special treatment for being a loyal customer.

The full Consumer Census can be downloaded here for further insights.

Ivan Mazour, CEO and founder of Ometria, said: “Retail marketers are now faced with a stark choice: to continue contributing to the mass of generic, undifferentiated marketing messages that overwhelm consumers every day, or to focus on creating the kinds of experiences that consumers are asking for.

The results of the Consumer Census give a clear blueprint for success, showing that consumers are increasingly seeking out relevance – for their loyalty to be recognised, for their interests to be reflected in the messages they receive, and to only be contacted when brands have something genuinely interesting or useful to say.”

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