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The Case for Suppression

AcxiomOctober 22, 2015

Everybody loves a well-timed offer. It was that time of year again. With the school year approaching, I recently needed to buy new uniforms for my young son. I received a timely and relevant email from a brand that was offering a significant discount and bonus cash toward a future purchase. It was also tax-free weekend in my state. Trifecta. I purchased uniform shorts, saved a chunk of change and earned bonus cash that I planned to use to purchase uniform pants in the fall.

Bonus cash is a nice offering. The problem for me is that I too frequently forget about it and miss the redemption period. Thankfully, this brand sent me a reminder a week or so before time to redeem. Timely. I put a note on my calendar so I wouldn’t forget. A few days later I also received a postcard in the mail reminding me it was almost time to use my bonus cash. I appreciated the reminder and the coordination across channels. On the morning the redemption period opened I received an email letting me know it was time to shop. The message also contained the promo code making it even easier to use. I immediately clicked through to the online store and placed an order for uniform pants.

Up to this point my customer experience was perfection. The messages I received were timely, relevant, consistent and effective to both the brand and me. And then it all fell apart.

The redemption period was about a week. Over the next six days I received an email every-other-day reminding me to redeem. Online banners followed me around as well. I was reminded a few days after purchase while paying my brand card balance online. I was even reminded while browsing a sister brand’s online store.

Marketing executed a seemingly flawless plan up until the point of conversion. I could understand a stray message or two making its way to me after purchase from a latency perspective. But I was bombarded with messaging across channels throughout the entire redemption period. It was annoying as a consumer and even more annoying as a fellow marketer. This messaging was no longer timely or relevant and precious marketing dollars were being wasted. So instead of strengthening my affinity with their brand, they wasted an opportunity to move beyond a single point of purchase and cultivate me further with another, a different, relevant message. Or they could have chosen not to engage me at all. Both would have been better experiences.

The fix for the backend is a simple, uncomplicated idea – suppression. This is not a new concept to marketers. We have been doing this for years in mail (talk about latency) and email campaigns. My purchase path was fairly straightforward and left a trail of signals that should have been picked up. I clicked through the initial email. I converted online. These are relatively easy connections to make. Had I purchased in store I may have been a little more lenient because connecting offline behavior to online campaigns is a little more involved. This is still doable, but is it worthwhile?

From my customer experience perspective it absolutely is.  Forrester Consulting agrees that it is worthwhile from a business perspective as well. In a recent study they found that connecting offline data to online campaigns for suppression “resulted in fewer wasted media impressions and a better experience for current customers, who were spared exposure to irrelevant messages and offers.”

Sound familiar? So take the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Save your marketing dollars and show your customers that you will take the time not waste theirs. Now go forth and suppress.