The End of an Era – 1-1 Marketing is Dead

2015_08_f6By Jeanniey Mullen, Vice President of Marketing, NOOK by Barnes and Noble

This week I sat on a panel at eTail East with some great companies and very smart people. Before the panel we joked about how many buzz words we could use in a 40 minute session. Who would be able to say “OmniChannel” or “programmatic” the most. We all laughed as the panel started. As competitive as I am, this bet got me to really listen to the words my fellow panelists used… I did not want to, no, I would not allow myself to be out jargoned.

And then it happened.

As people were speaking about goals, efforts, strategies and tactics, I realized that an era in marketing that we have known as 1-1 marketing has come to an end.

Wow! Here’s how it happened.

In the mid 1990’s email marketing dared to raise its head and propel us into an era called 1-1 marketing. Not on the outbound email side, but first on the inbound side. For the first time ever, this thing called “email” enabled us to speak, at rapid speed, directly to companies, and companies could speak on an individual basis directly to customers. It was the dawn of a new age of electronic messaging that flourished for 20 years.

1-1 marketing quickly evolved from inbound email into other channels including transactional emails, marketing emails, social marketing like instant messenger and Facebook. Data scientists, and analytics finally started to see an opportunity to push business results even further and the world of marketing, attribution and personalized messaging was a happy place. Building infrastructures ands strategies that could capitalize on 1-1 marketing became the Holy Grail. From here, innovation grew even more rapidly. CRM platforms evolved, allowing us to create trigger and event based marketing. Multi-channel messaging was a reality. The dynamic targeting of banners (site placement and retargeting) started to consume our media driven worlds. And, even today, in-app notifications and programmatic continue to offer us new ways to create a more personalized outreach/approach.

But let’s not kid ourselves. This evolution of technological and data driven abilities hasn’t pushed us further into 1-1 marketing. In fact it’s done something quite surprising, but even better.
We’ve evolved away from 1-1 marketing. Instead, today, the most savvy of marketers practice a more intelligent and sophisticated level of 1-many Marketing on a highly personalized level. What does that mean? It’s means this:

We are not moving away from “the right message to the right person at the right time.” We’re starting at a different point. Instead of trying to reach every customer individually and cater to their needs, we’re beginning strategically and defining the right audience segments. We’re starting with clusters, lifestyle groups and response paths for our most profitable customers (and our most profitable future customers).
Then, we are turning to our arsenal of programmatic and, dare-I-say, omni-channel tools to creating response pathways that offer personalized product recommendations. This is being done at a level of “many” even though the ultimate message may seem like it is personal. There are no companies out there who can afford to design and execute on an individual basis. Instead we continue to get smarter at how we conduct a personalized stream on a mass level with even better from a higher number of individuals.

I’m thrilled that manually driven, silo’d 1-1 marketing is dead. In it’s death it has opened the door to an even better state, personal marketing.

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